5 Steps to Handling Income Inequality in a Relationship
The following steps are important to keep in mind if a difference in paychecks is causing tension:
- Communicate openly and share your needs. If feelings of guilt, resentment or power struggles develop from income inequality, talk about them without coming across as accusatory. Sharing needs when it comes to money puts feelings and wishes out on the table and takes away guesswork.
- Create a budget. Sit down together and create a household budget, determining income, expenses, and discretionary income. This can then lead to a discussion about how much spending money each spouse receives.
- Talk regularly about finances. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, look at the budget, talk about how it’s working, and discuss any issues, such as needing to cut back in certain areas.
- Determine what kind of account(s) work for you: Many married couples prefer to have joint accounts, while others maintain separate accounts. Still others have one joint account for bills and separate accounts for discretionary spending. Talk about what works best for you as a couple and your unique relationship.
- Discuss distribution of household work. When spouses are not earning the same income, housework often makes up for the inequality and can breed resentment. Talk about who will do what and create a cleaning schedule if you feel it’s helpful.
Issues always arise in life and relationships, such as a health crisis, downsizing at work, etc. Practicing patience, flexibility, and a team mentality can go a long way in handling conflict.