Understand each other's money personality. Scott and Bethany Palmer believe each person has a money personality—a spending style that dictates their money habits. At the most basic level, someone is a saver or a spender, according to the Palmers. If a saver and a spender wind up together, which the Palmers say often happens because opposites attract, the couple's day-to-day lives are in conflict. The saver wants to make dinner at home; the spender wants to eat out. The spender buys himself a nice bathrobe and the saver resents it each morning when she sees it hanging on the hook. "You would think the biggest arguments about money would be over a big subject like a house or a car, but it's over everyday decisions," says Bethany Palmer.
However, if you take the time to evaluate and understand each other's respective money personalities, you'll likely fight about money a lot less. "We find if couples can understand how they look at money and understand their partner's perspective of money, that will start their relationship off on the right foot," Scott Palmer says.
If both parties are aware of the other person's spending style, the lines of communication are open and each person will have a better idea of where the other one is coming from. "Walk half a mile in your partner's moccasins," says Mellan. If you stop and think how your partner feels about the situation, Mellan says you and your spouse become less polarized.
Discuss family history. The way people approach money is, in large part, related to how their parents treated money, says Mayabb. Was money openly discussed in your household growing up? Did Dad make all the decisions or was it a team effort? Did you admire your parents' spending and saving habits or did you vow to do the opposite of what they did? Having a discussion about your families' money habits will help bridge the gap between you and your spouse's outlook on money, Mayabb says.
With the potential for money arguments to lead to serious marital problems, consider setting up weekly chats to tackle money disagreements before they evolve into fights.