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Valentine’s Day: Talk Money with Your Honey

Candy is nice at Valentine's Day, but a UW-Madison consumer science professor says there are other steps couples can take to solidify their relationship. (Wikimedia Commons)
Candy is nice at Valentine's Day, but a UW-Madison consumer science professor says there are other steps couples can take to solidify their relationship. (Wikimedia Commons)
February 14, 2018

MADISON, Wis. - There'll be plenty of flowers and candy given out today, but to make love grow, you need to have a talk with your honey about money.

That's the advice of Christine Whelan, a clinical professor who directs the Money, Relationships and Equality initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. One of her sayings is, "Roses are red, violets are blue; talk about money and grow your love, too."

We often think the best way to celebrate Valentine's Day is with flowers and candy, Whelan said.

"While chocolates are wonderful," she said, "if we want to get at the real thing that makes love work, it's understanding what matters to each of us in the relationship and spending our limited resources in keeping with what matters."

Whether you're in a serious dating relationship or if you've been paired up for years, Whelan said, the best way to ensure that love grows is to understand clearly what really matters to both parties, and often that means having an understanding about how you're going to spend your money. It's often difficult to start a talk about money, she said, so she offers an online workbook that can help with conversation-starters at more.sohe.wisc.edu.

"It's a free download," she said, "and the purpose of the workbook is to create kind of fun, do-it-yourself exercises to sort of figure out the values behind money - to think about what matters most to you in your life."

Often in a relationship, one party will bring home a bigger paycheck than the other, but Whelan said time and effort can count just as much as money in a relationship.

"You know that having your partner value your contributions makes you love them more, makes you feel more appreciated," she said. "So in that money talk with your honey, think about time, too, because all of our scarce resources are valuable."

Whelan said full equality in a relationship often requires education and behavior change.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI