Money and relationships – for richer for poorer and how to make it work

Money can make and break relationships so we asked an expert how to approach the subject with your partner and finance-proof your love

Whether we like it or not, money is central to our lives and relationships and knowing how to deal with finances, both in good times and bad, is vital.

In the new film by Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine, we see how money can destroy relationships as the central character Jasmine (played by Cate Blanchett) struggles when her husband’s business fraud leads them to financial ruin.

The movie highlights the integral role money plays in our relationships and the profound ways its presence and absence can impact our lives. Whether you are rolling in it or penniless, money issues are complex and inescapable.

We asked psychologist Dr Tom Graham what you can do to avoid money issues sabotaging your relationship.

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Money Talk

Open up a channel of communication about money early on in a relationship. Talking directly about money will help you understand one another’s views, whatever these may be. Mutual understanding should be aimed at before trying to compromise. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and see their point of view, as well as explaining yours to them. Crucial issues to discuss are:

Relationship goals: Explore the differences and similarities between your hopes, dreams and fears. Express your goals and take the time to hear your partner’s to avoid unspoken assumptions causing future problems. What goals unite you and what compromises might be made where goals are different? If all of your goals are vastly different, sustaining a mutually fulfilling relationship might be difficult.

Attitudes to money: What did you learn about money growing up? What does money mean to you now? Are you a spender or a saver? Encourage your partner to ask themselves these questions too and share your views. Understanding one another’s attitudes to money will make money management more transparent. You will then be in a better position to create a balanced money plan that suits both of you.

Money management: It is important you both feel comfortable with how financial responsibility is divided between you. Look at how spending is managed and who is responsible for what. Try to combine your strengths in money management and make important financial decisions together. Take an interest and make sure you are both kept in the loop.

Effective Money Talk

Effective money talk should bring you closer together and help you feel more united rather than causing a blazing row. Conversations about money can be difficult, so take the time to create the right conditions and pause every so often to regroup and see how you are both feeling. They might seem obvious but these five points can help to ensure things run smoothly:

Timing: Agree on an appropriate time when you are both in the right mindset to talk about money - not after a few drinks, just before bedtime, or the instant your partner gets home from work. If there never seems to be an appropriate time, make time together by scheduling a money talk into your week. 

Setting: Ensure there are no distractions or disruptions. Turn off the TV, computer and mobile phones. Attend to each other, not to the children, the washing up, or the dog. Sit together somewhere quiet with a pen and paper so you can make notes whilst listening to one another.

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Ground rules: Talk calmly; no interrupting; no long tirades; take turns to speak; divide the time equally; one person speaks for a few minutes whilst the other listens, then the other reflects back what they heard before giving their response. If you start to raise your voices, take a break.

Communication: Be honest and non-judgmental. Tell your partner how you feel but avoid listing faults and being accusatory. “I feel anxious about being in debt” is easier to hear than “you make me feel anxious with your reckless spending”. Acknowledge the good qualities in your partner and those qualities perhaps you secretly envy.

Planning: Find common ground, agree on your goals together and work out a budget that includes some rough limits. Share budgeting responsibilities as appropriate, making the most of your respective skills, and find a balance between spending and saving that you both feel comfortable with.


Once you have finished having a money talk, agree on an appropriate time to have the next one and move on to doing something else together. Find a way to reconnect, whether it is having a cup of tea, going out for a walk, or watching your favourite TV show together. Conversations about money can be tough but don’t lose sight of all that you love about your partner amongst talk of pounds and pence!

Dr. Tom Graham is a counselling psychologist and Relate qualified couples counsellor working privately and within the NHS.

Blue Jasmine is released in UK cinemas on 27th September