Conflict isn’t comfortable, but it’s not always a bad thing in a relationship. Working through conflict can help couples learn more about each other, resolve differences and practice healthy communication that may even prevent similar issues in the future.

Studies show that one of the most common things couples disagree on is the subject of money. But money doesn't have to be an emotional wedge between the two of you. There are ways you can work together to reach your financial goals and strengthen your relationship.

Talk about finances early

The way we think about money tends to be influenced by our upbringing and life experiences. Money represents a sense of security for many and can even signify power for some. Because it’s different for everyone, so it’s important to talk openly about finances with your partner and then decide how you can work through any disagreements together.

Financial planning is an important early conversation for any new couple. One key point to discuss is how much financial independence each partner may want. For example, one possibility is to use three checking accounts: yours, mine and ours. You can then decide how much money you need each month to pay bills, save, keep for spending and invest.

Tips for resolving money conflicts

Try these ideas for working with your partner on your financial dreams and challenges.

  • Establish a clear budget – Make a plan that includes a budget. How much do you want to save? How many checking accounts should you have? Who will monitor accounts and pay the bills? Then, hold each other accountable.
  • Practice mindfulness – Remember that there are different ways to think about money. Accept each other's values and differences. Work together to find solutions and be willing to compromise. Talk about what you like about your partner’s financial values and what you think works well. Practice active listening and be willing to apologize when you're wrong.
  • Plan time to talk finances – Schedule regular meetings to go over your expenses, catch up on bills and discuss debts. Choose a good time and place to talk, and reschedule if one of you is tired, upset or pressed for time.  

Life changes and financial stress

Important life changes can impact each partner's roles and responsibilities in a relationship. They can also lead to a change in your finances. Financial strain can cause stress and irritation, which can lead to conflict.

If you've had any of the following life changes recently, or are expecting one of them, start talking with your partner about how it might affect your finances.

  • Becoming parents or expanding your family
  • Changing jobs or career fields
  • Going back to school
  • Unemployment
  • Relocating
  • Retiring
  • Caregiving for a loved one
  • Sending a child to college
  • Experiencing a medical crisis  

Facing financial problems

Financial problems like job loss or unexpected home expenses can harm even the healthiest relationship. But a couple can also grow and strengthen their connection during trying times. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Work hard to understand what the other person is going through and ask how you can be the most supportive.

Seeking help

If you feel like the financial challenges in your relationship are out of your control, you may want to consider talking with a financial advisor or credit counselor. They’ll work with you to set focused goals and make a step-by-step plan to reach them. This could include paying off debt before retirement, buying a home or saving for your child's college education.

If your finances are creating problems that you feel may threaten the health of your relationship, couples therapy might help. Couples therapy involves meeting with a counselor who can help you resolve problems, learn new communication skills and decide on the best next steps.

You’re already moving in the right direction by prioritizing your relationship and your financial security. Don’t be afraid to speak up and get the support you need to succeed with both.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics System, Marriages and Divorces. April 24, 2023.