When you’re in a relationship, it can at times feel like you’re both attached at the hip, like a human two-for-one package. You start to embody each other’s quirks, watch the same shows, and you probably share the same opinion on whether TikTok rots the brain.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing – if you’re devoted to someone that much, you’ll likely feel a sense of unified identity.
However, if there’s one thing you might want to keep separate, it’s your hard-earned cash. Money is a massive part of life, and if couples don’t manage it properly, it could see a whole world of new and potentially sinister problems arise.
According to research commissioned by CommBank, and conducted by YouGov, almost 40% of Aussies have experienced or know someone who has experienced financial abuse – instances where one partner has used money as a means to control, dictate the actions of or hold power over the other.
It’s a confronting fact, but it does highlight why maintaining a sense of financial independence in your relationship is so important.
The kind of ‘financial independence’ I’m referring to doesn’t exactly involve raking in enough coin to treat yourself to a Ferrari. It means having regular check-ins with your bank statement, knowing the deets to all your cards and accounts, and having a firm understanding about where you’re at money-wise so you can make informed decisions about where to spend it and when to save.
There’s a point where shouting coffees can snowball into paying for everything, where unhealthy patterns and even manipulation can arise. In instances like this, it’s essential to back yourself and arm yourself with the right info that’ll ensure you keep your financial wellbeing in good order.
Your relationship might become codependant
While leaning on your partner for support is normal and healthy, however, if you see codependant patterns arise, it could be a huge red flag. Examples of financially codependent behaviours could be that you’re always relying on your partner to cough up your half of the rent because you haven’t budgeted properly, or you’re finding they’re never willing to help tackle more significant expenses.
If you’re in love, your rose-coloured, heart-shaped goggles might mean you’re able to make passes and exceptions for these behaviours every so often. But, if they’re continually happening, it could lead to immense frustration in the long term.
I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but these actions could transform into something more sinister. If your partner has gathered that you might not be able to maintain your finances, they could use it against you in potentially harmful instances. They could even start restricting you from spending your own money or leave you out of money-related decisions that impact you both, which could lead to further distrust in the relationship – which is a huge no.
Every relationship is different, so there isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to go about managing money as a couple – it just has to work for both of you. If you are concerned or need some guidance as to how to tackle the situation, resources like this provide information around picking up on potentially financially abusive traits. If these things are happening continually, you can also seek help or advice by getting in touch with services such as 1800Respect.
You could lose your sense of identity
Working to earn your own money plays a key role in forming our identity as adults. Weaning off your parents’ generous coin once you finally get your first job is a vital part of the coming-of-age process as teens, and the same applies for relationships.
Knowing where you’re at with your own money helps maintain a sense of achievement and gives us goals if you’re saving. Not to mention, the importance of being able to treat yourself with money you earned cannot be underestimated.
Losing your sense of financial idependence could occur in the form of your partner preventing you from getting a job or going to work, or forcing you to ask for the money to pay for basic necessities – actions which all have negative implications on the dynamics present within the relationship.
Overall, if you’re both confident in your own ability to ‘adult’ (sorry for using the phrase), it’ll help keep the relationship healthy.
You might not be backed if things were to go awry
No one wants to think of what would go down if their relationship were to end suddenly. But, if you’re not clued in about your own money, it could make the whole situation a lot more painful if it were to arise.
There are multiple financial implications of financial instances ending – even if you’re not married. For example, you could absorb your partner’s debt on loans or credit cards after a breakup, or they could lay claim to some of your precious assets if things were to take a turn for the worst.
This is why I cannot stress how important it is to have open and honest convos with your partner (and yourself) around money. Taking a good, hard look at your own situation, and understand exactly where your money goes and how it’s being used. If you feel as though there’s something up address it immediately – they’re tough conversations to have, but it’ll ensure you peace of mind long term.
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. If you are concerned that you or another man are being abusive, call the Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491.
Commonwealth Bank is committed to supporting people impacted by domestic and financial abuse. To find out more about the ways they are helping, or to access helpful resources, please visit this website.Image: Friends