"Talk about your finances and be open," Hardeman said. "Have monthly conversations about where you stand. If the bullying feels more serious, get your partner to go to counseling with you, because it can be helpful to talk to someone with an outside perspective. If it's more severe, extreme, take back some of the control. Make sure you have a firm financial standing and know what's going on in your own finances."
One of the hardest things sometimes is getting couples to agree on what expenses to cut to dig out of a hole. VanderToolen said couples sometimes work individually toward good goals, like mom saving for a family vacation and dad for a needed vehicle. If they don't talk about what they're doing. and find common ground and a way to split their resources to work toward both goals, it can lead to disagreement and misunderstanding.
"It is vital couples take a financial inventory and establish a plan that can be agreed to by all," VanderToolen said. "If one person forces it on the other, there is likely to be some resentment and strain in the relationship."
The survey also found those with children under age 18 at home are more likely to classify their mates as bullies than those that don't live with children (18 percent versus 7 percent).
"When partners lie or hide money concerns from another, it can have a major impact on their financial future," said Ken Lin, chief executive of the counseling service Credit Karma. "Many big financial decisions, like applying for a mortgage or saving for a child's education, are made more easily with transparency and communication."
The survey was conducted online in June among 2,021 adults, of whom 1,036 were married or living with a partner.
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