Find Middle Ground – Make Personality Differences Work in Your Relationship and Finances
While we all have personalities – and natural tendencies – it’s nevertheless possible to change. In a relationship, change is helpful. As we adjust what we say and do, relationships prosper and grow.
Personality differences are myriad, but we’ve identified three that are particularly relevant to finances. Let’s look at them and see what you can do to reduce or eliminate disagreements. Sometimes, what starts out as a source of conflict can turn into a strength as you recognize your partner’s perspective.
How Quickly Do You Make Decisions?
Decisiveness is widely regarded as a desirable quality in leaders. A decisive leader appears in control, intelligent, a master of the facts.
But there are virtues inherent to those who hesitate too. Slower decision-makers are more likely to consider all the options carefully. They may be slower because they are processing a larger spectrum of information.
Suppose the clothes washer needs to be replaced. The decisive partner may arrive at a quick decision on which new model to purchase, but the hesitant partner may have doubts. Will the hesitant partner have a chance to voice their concerns?
- Tip for decisive decision-makers: Consider that your partner may be thinking through options or problems that you are not aware of. Can you create a space for your partner to voice their concerns?
- Tip for hesitant decision-makers: If your partner is willing to listen to other options, remember to keep things moving at a reasonable pace. They may become frustrated when decisions are taking too long.
Are You a Planner, or Are You Spontaneous?
Planners in the family schedule vacations, plan weddings, find summer camps for the kids. Planning provides predictability and reduces risk.
If you’re the spontaneous one in a relationship, you probably know how to have a good time. You are looking for last-minute opportunities to create a memorable experience.
Both personality types, however, also have drawbacks. Planners may not leave enough time to have fun. Spontaneous people can sometimes spend more money than they intended.
- Tip for the spontaneous partner: Discover a way to allow your partner to question your decisions without taking offense. Tell them how to approach you when they have a concern.
- Tip for the planner: You are a valuable asset in keeping the family on track financially; but can you accomplish your mission, while leaving a certain portion of your money available for spontaneous pleasures?
Sometimes, what starts out as a source of conflict can turn into a strength as you recognize your partner’s perspective.
Are You Oriented Toward the Long Term or the Short Term?
In a financial context, the partner with a long-term orientation is concerned about saving for retirement, paying off the mortgage and becoming debt-free. A perfect world would be one in which all funds are stored away in investment accounts and nurtured for decades.
By contrast, the partner with a short-term orientation may be focused on consumables like food and drink, as well as material things like new furniture. A perfect world would allow for all the comforts and experiences of the present moment, including vacations, weddings and parties.
There is a middle ground, of course, but it is unique to each couple. You and your partner need to figure it out together.
- Tip for the partner with a long-term orientation: Part of the pleasure of reaching your goal is looking back on the pleasurable journey that took you there. You do not want to arrive at your destination only to realize that you have caused resentment in your partner. Could you attain 80% of your goal, while allowing your partner some spending latitude?
- Tip for the partner with a short-term orientation: Short-term pleasures are important, especially experiences that a couple can share and remember. But won’t you want these same pleasures when you are older? Your partner with a long-term orientation may be your best asset in ensuring that you can go out to eat, travel or buy new furniture in retirement.