By Cindy Krischer Goodman
My neighbor, a lawyer, has been working longer hours than usual, and his wife is angry. “She tells me I’m not getting paid enough to put in the hours I’m putting in,” he told me. “I’ve stopped talking to her about what I’m making.”
As work expectations and time demands have risen, financial communication between couples has declined to the point where partners often don’t talk to each other about what they earn, spend, or stash away.
A June 2015 study by Fidelity Investments found that 72 percent of the couples surveyed believed they communicate well. But 4 in 10 of the pairs didn’t know how much their partner earned, and 1 in 5 admitted to hiding some of their finances from their significant other.
“For some couples, money can be a taboo topic like politics,” says Jeff Motske, a financial advisor with Trilogy Financial and author of “A Couple’s Guide to Financial Compatibility.” “They are uncomfortable talking to each other about finances.”
Stressful work situations are notorious for driving a wedge between couples who disagree over how long a significant other should go without a raise, how much money a spouse should pour into a fledgling business, or how much time a person should spend at work considering the size of the paycheck he or she brings home. “Often, if they are working hard and not getting anywhere, they don’t want to talk about it with their spouse,” Motske says. “To maintain their lifestyle, they might even take on debt and hide it.”
Most of us in relationships realize is not easy to be on the same page financially as a partner. Breadwinners, male or female, who often work at an insane pace, tend to feel they have the upper hand in financial decisions. One wife who earns less than her husband told me she resents his control over her spending and hides her purchases.