How important is it to be open about money with your partner?
For Leslie Tayne, it was a matter of “I do” versus “I’m out.”
A year into their engagement, Tayne called it quits with her fiance “Jack” because he wouldn’t shed a light on his financial situation.
Tayne never knew how much money Jack made or how much debt he carried during their four-year relationship, she told Cathie Ericson at Learnvest.
When faced with the possibility of sharing the rest of her financial life with this man, Tayne ultimately decided she wasn’t willing to do it if he wasn’t going to open up to her.
Love and Money
Tricky as it is to talk about, money is no small matter in a relationship.
The more serious the relationship gets, the more it matters that you know — or don’t know — what your partner has going on financially.
A surprising 40% of couples do not know each other’s income.
Forty-two percent admit to lying to their partners about money.
When something as fundamental as money is shrouded in mystery, the relationship is bound to feel a strain.
Dishonesty or evasiveness about money erodes trust in general.
Mismatched approaches to spending, earning and saving can lead to disagreements about everything you do as a couple.
Lack of a cohesive financial plan will make it difficult to work together to build the life you both want.
When is it Time to Leave?
At first glance, you might think Tayne’s decision to leave her fiance is extreme.
The relationship started fine. They were around the same age, had good jobs and split costs for dates fairly.
“As our relationship progressed, however,” Tayne said, “I realized I didn’t know the basics about his money – not even a ballpark of how much he made.”
Worse, when she asked about money, he evaded her questions.
And eventually, things did start to become unfair.
He was staying at her house most of the time without chipping in for bills, taking too long to repay money she leant him and complaining about his pay at work.
“The one thing I did figure out was that I made more than him,” she said. “So I never pushed these issues further — until we got engaged three years into our relationship.”
Getting Serious About Money
But before tying the knot, Tayne knew she had to get serious about money.
“I finally explained that if he was going to continue withholding financial details, I wasn’t comfortable getting married.”
He never did come clean about money. So she called it off.
Tayne avoided the tough questions with Jack for a few years — probably longer than she should have.
From that relationship, she learned the importance of transparency.
“Issues like income disparity, past debt or even having differing money personalities can all become elephants in the room if you don’t tackle them as a couple sooner rather than later.”
She applies this logic to new relationships now — and happily reports she is dating someone “who is very forthright about every detail of his finances.”
Your Turn: Would you end a relationship if your partner refused to talk about finances?
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more.