CHARLIE Parker said, "Romance without finance is a nuisance." And whether you're just married, just moving in, or just starting out, you know that making romance and finance work can be a frustrating and confusing experience.
You've probably been there--arguing one night about how much he or she spent, and then spending the next night trying to piece together the remnants of what you thought was a great relationship. He gets offended when you reach for your purse to pay for your movie ticket. She gets upset because you didn't pick up the dinner cheek fast enough. The love-and-money quagmire goes on and on.
Navigating the mess is critical because financial problems can strain some relationships to the breaking point, says author Nick Chiles. The South Orange, N.J., resident has written a series of relationship books with his wife, Denene Millner, including What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know About Sex: The Real Deal on Passion, Loving and Intimacy.
"When we start thinking about spending the rest of our lives with someone, security becomes the prominent necessity. For both sexes, when we think about loving someone, we think about what our lives will be like with this person," says Chiles, an award-winning journalist who has a psychology degree from Yale University. "So money pops up pretty immediately."
Money isn't the cause of the problem; it's how couples think about money that creates a "nuisance." What couples should remember is that the main rule regarding relationships and money matters is this--communicate and compromise.
"You have to begin by understanding that just because you did it one way doesn't mean that's the only way it could have been done," says Millner, who also wrote The Sistahs' Rules: Secrets for Meeting, Getting and Keeping a Good Black Man. "When [Nick and I] got into this relationship, I had one idea about how money should be saved and spent and handled, and he had a totally different one. The important thing is to understand where that other person is coming from and then find a happy medium.
Finding the middle ground means having an honest discussion about your financial views. Tell your partner if you put $200 into a money-market account each month or if you live paycheck-to-paycheck. Come to the table honestly and openly to see if your financial needs and views are compatible. If they're not compatible, work at learning more about money and each other, and try to compromise.
The way couples view money can also give insight into other aspects of their personalities. …