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How to Fight Fair Over Finances

The key to lessening these woes lies in figuring out your values around money, so that money tensions can be approached from a place of clarity and calm. Here are three tips to ensure a fair fight over finances.
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A young couple lying on the floor counting coins
A young couple lying on the floor counting coins

by Sarah Montana

No matter our net worth or bank balance, money is an emotional topic in a relationship. According to a recent study, 22 percent percent of marriages end over "money issues." But while we all fight over money from time to time, those fights don't have to be big blowouts.

Financial disagreements tend to be about more than just dollars and cents--and may point to where you clash in your relationship on a larger scale. The key to lessening these woes lies in figuring out your values around money, so that money tensions can be approached from a place of clarity and calm. Here are three tips to ensure a fair fight over finances.

1. Define and align your values.
There's a reason for that old saying, put your money where your mouth is: Your finances are often the most concrete demonstration of your priorities. Sit down and talk to your partner about your goals and priorities. Then, take a hard look at your expenses. Ask yourself and your partner, "Where is our money going--does it align with our vision for the future?"

Once you've clearly articulated your goals, it will be easier to pick your battles instead of endlessly circling the drain on the same issues. And it will be easier to check your bad habits if you've got a stated reason to resist that retail binge--or to breathe through the panic when you both decide to dip into the savings to fund your dreams.

2. Pinpoint your iceberg beliefs about money.
Where there are big emotions, there are often iceberg beliefs--those deep-seeded beliefs we all have about how the world should work. It's important to recognize our money icebergs and bring them to the surface so we can see how they are unconsciously affecting our relationship.

If your approach to money comes from a place of fear, you could be denying your partner (and yourself) some much-needed room to take calculated risks. Or perhaps you've been putting pressure on your partner to save for a house because your parents taught you that owning a home is the ultimate sign of success--but the reality is that renting makes more sense for you and your partner right now. Identifying your iceberg beliefs frees you to choose which money principles will truly serve you--and allow you to build a healthy, happy relationship with money and your mate.

Likewise, it's important to identify your partner's iceberg beliefs. It's easy to fall into old habits in moments of vulnerability. If you know your partner's unconscious money habits, you can check your anger at the door and reach out to her in understanding--and vice versa.

3. Know and understand your money mindset...and celebrate your partner's.

There is no good or bad money mindsets: our attitudes and relationship with money. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. For example, maybe you are a habitual saver, but your partner would rather invest than save. Life (and the economy) demands careful planning and adaptive spontaneity. Identifying your money mindset makes it easier to embrace your strengths while also acknowledging your weaknesses.

And when it comes to your partner's money mindset, take a moment to think about how your partner's weakness can be a saving grace. Are you driven up the wall by his miserly saving? Make it a point to appreciate the care and security your partner aims to provide. If her splurges on fine dining are giving you panic attacks, pause to remember some of the moments and meals that impulse drove you two to share. It will be easier to stay cool and compassionate if you remember that your partner's flaws share a root with his strengths.