We all know that relationships are hard, as both partners are forced to change themselves for the good of the bond. And while most of us tend to think about toning down the flirtatious vibes at the bar or swallowing our pride during an argument, an underlying issue that can’t be resolved a lot of times is finances.
Money might not be the root of happiness, but it certainly helps when dating someone, as it allows you to take vacations, go on nice dates and surprise your partner with things thanks to disposable income.
Unfortunately, when one partner makes more than the other, things can get a little bit sticky, leaving the person with the higher paycheck left wondering if they’re being taken advantage of and if it’s true love or just someone wanting to reap the benefits of your labor.
That’s for you to decide, but for those who might be making more than their partner, here are a few tips on how to survive the relationship and to maintain focus on what’s really important.
It’s easy for the person making more money to get frustrated when it feels like he/she is doing the bulk of spending, but the focus of the relationship should be building a strong bond, not with who’s paying for the majority of dinners. As long as things don’t get too out of control—where your partner seems to use you for things like clothes, trips and super expensive things—use the luxury of making good money by doing things together.
Don’t Think That The Higher Earner Decides All The Money Issues
Whether dating or married, just because one person makes more money, doesn’t mean that he/she is the decision-maker when it comes to all financial issues. For example, say you make $100,000/year and your partner makes $55,000/year—which is a significant difference. As nice as it would be to take a vacation to Europe or buy a new car, if your less-earning partner isn’t comfortable handling such payments on more expensive things, listen to them and go with a happy medium.
This might be the toughest part in any relationship going through this situation, because, naturally, when someone makes a certain amount of money, he/she is prone to spending it. That said, make sure both partners understand that there’s an expectation level that should be established, with both sides knowing that some sort of budget will be followed. Going out to an expensive dinner every once in awhile is fine, but doing so all the time only brings added stress for both people—especially if the higher earner tends to pay for it.
Not to be confused with a budget, setting financial goals will help both partners understand the big picture. For instance, using the car example from above, rather than spend more on a new luxury car that will only lose value over the next few years, why not find an alternative and put the money saved into savings so that the two of you can realistically discuss vacations, houses, retirement, etc. Even if things don’t last, the fact that there’s a bigger picture will clear any drama that may come along if one person’s spending more than the other.
It’s easy for the breadwinner to become resentful if he/she feels taken advantage of. That said, try not to reach that point by using the steps mentioned above—like setting goals and establishing expectations—which will help alleviate some of that animosity. Having nice things is great and all, but don’t be jaded when it comes to saving and maintaining a lifestyle that’s affordable for both of you. If single, you’re free to do as you please. While in a relationship, working with your partner to make smart decisions is key.
Arguments about money will happen, but make sure both partners don’t make the outcome of such fights be the end all, be all moving forward. It’s important to remain open about what both sides are comfortable spending/saving moving forward, understanding there’s a bigger picture financially—again, whether together or, ultimately, single if things don’t work out.