As a Houston relationship counselor, I can tell you that one of the most common relationship problems that couples face is disagreements about their finances. We all approach money slightly differently. You may have different comfort levels taking risks with your money or using credit. One of you may be more prone to saving up than the other. You may even have different priorities when it comes to where to spend your money.

But I’ve noticed in my time as a Houston relationship counselor that these differences can be strengths if you are able to make compromises. Someone that tends to save away all their money for a rainy day may be helped by a partner who helps them live a little once and a while. And big spenders may benefit from having a partner with a more long-term outlook that involves some savings and investing. But reaching middle ground isn’t always easy. Avoid relationship problems by having honest, open discussions about your finances on a regular basis.

3 Tips to Preventing Arguments over Money from a Houston Relationship Counselor

Make a budget. Getting it all down on paper can make your financial situation clearer. You may find income you didn’t realize you had or recognize hidden expenses.

Discuss long-term priorities. Make sure you’re both on the same page about where the money you are saving will be used in the future. Will it go towards retirement, a college account for the kids, the down payment for a new home, or a little bit of each? It can help to create separate accounts for each goal.

Visit a financial advisor. Between mortgages, tax deductions, 401ks, IRAs, CDs, and the dozens of other financial terms that you may need to discuss, it isn’t always easy to see what you can afford or how much you should be saving. A financial advisor can make sure you both understand where you stand and how to reach your goals together. But before going there, it can be beneficial to make a list of those long-term goals in order of priority.

Accept your differences. As a Houston relationship counselor, this is something I work with my clients on in all areas of their lives, but financial decisions can be a tough area. You may now understand why your partner needs a new dress, but consider that she may not understand your need for the latest iPhone. Make room in the budget for the things that matter to your partner.

Don’t hide things from one another. It may be embarrassing to admit that you went over budget this month because of an impulse buy, but it will be easier to discuss with your partner if you are honest about it rather than them discovering it later when you don’t have enough money to pay the electric bill. On the other side of this, you have to be understanding when your partner slips up. Make it comfortable for your significant other to talk with you when he or she makes a mistake.

Keep your emotions in check. Especially in these tough financial times, it can be hard not to get passionate about money matters, but it makes it difficult to communicate if you get emotional. Set ground rules before you start. No yelling. Avoid personal attacks. And take a break if you need to.

Things Still Heated? Considering Visiting a Houston Relationship Counselor

A professional can help guide the process so that you’re having discussions, not arguments, and teach you the communication skills you need to continue financial discussions at home. Do you find that every time you try to talk about your finances an argument erupts? Or maybe one partner simply shuts down and refuses to talk further.  Some couples find themselves avoiding discussions about finances altogether because it becomes too uncomfortable. In these cases, it can help to talk to a Houston relationship counselor.