How Do Different Types of Couples Talk About Money?
Are there differences in how straight and same-sex couples talk about money?
How do couples of different sexual orientations talk about money?
Every day, I’m thankful my partner and I are on the same page with finances. We have similar goals and spending habits, and we share credit cards and bank accounts. I recently asked a friend about her relationship with her wife.
I was surprised that they each only had a general idea of the amount of student debt the other had before marriage, and that they didn’t combine their finances.
In fact, my partner and I are among a minority of people who had a discussion on money issues before marriage. According to a Wells Fargo study, only 28 percent of same-sex couples discussed their personal feelings and views about money before getting married, compared to 19 percent among heterosexual couples.
Here’s the kicker. 15 percent of them never speak about finances, before or after marriage, according to a report by TransUnion, 2013. But as I continued my research and talked to my friends, I found these surveys didn’t paint a whole picture.
WERE MARRIED MILLENNIALS IN A SAME-SEX COUPLE ANY DIFFERENT FROM THOSE IN A HETEROSEXUAL COUPLE?
I asked one lesbian couple and one heterosexual couple about their financial strategy. Sarah and her wife Vivian live in Los Angeles, and Allison and her husband Colin live in Minneapolis.
Both of my friends spoke about finances in some way before getting married. Sarah and Vivian say they talk about money mostly in relation to student debt. Allison says that speaking about finances so openly with her husband was very weird to her, since her own family almost never spoke about money. But it was important both to her and to Colin that they were on the same page financially.
Allison has become accustomed to planning a budget with someone, and feels that it’s been great having someone to be accountable to. “It’s gotten less weird over time,” she says.
Emet and I came to our relationship speaking about our spending and savings habit at the beginning. We were pleased to find that we agreed on most things. While none of the couples agree 100 percent of the time, we all seem to be on the same page most of the time.
All of us have some income discrepancies between partners.
Sarah makes more than Vivian, Emet makes more than me, and Allison makes more than Colin. But surprisingly, it’s not an issue for any one of us.
Sarah says that neither her job nor her wife’s job is secure. But because she makes more at the moment, she pays the bills now, knowing that Vivian will support them when she is out of work. Allison doesn’t think that the difference in income is a big deal in their relationship, but she thinks that Colin wishes he made more money in general.
I’m starting a freelance writing business, while Emet supports us with her full-time salary. When we talk about money, we both wish we made more. But we absolutely live within our means, and every penny I earn goes straight into our savings account.
I feel good helping us to build our savings, even if it isn’t as much as I would like. I have been freelancing for only a few months, so I know that I will continue earning more as time goes on.
As my friends and I talked, I realized that there may not be much difference in the way my partner and I communicate, in spite of our circumstances or sexual orientation.
The more I thought about those surveys, the more I felt that millennials were not the subject. We are more open than previous generations, not only in dating and household responsibilities, for example, but money matters, too! We’re more anxious about debt, jobs, and retirement, so it only makes the most sense that we talk more openly about money in our relationships.
Perhaps the biggest problem is deciding who wants to make dinner tonight when neither one of us wants to cook!