How to Talk About Finances With Your Significant Other

A woman seated at an office desk

As a couples therapist, it may not surprise you that I see many couples struggling with conversations and disagreements surrounding the topic of money.

It’s a classic fight that couples have, like loading the dishwasher, asking for directions and driving. Money is just one of those things we expect couples to disagree about. However, what may surprise you is the “why.” Why is it that finances can be a difficult topic with your significant other? Once we identify the reason, we can understand more clearly how to talk to our significant other about money in a way that propels the conversation forward positively.

[Money] is a classic fight that couples have, like loading the dishwasher, asking for directions and driving.

Money is a topic that has many layers underneath it. Like the tip of the iceberg, money sits on top and is simply one part of the story—the part that we can see. However, underneath the water, like the base of the iceberg hidden from immediate view, are layers of personal experience, family history, culture, beliefs and values surrounding money.

Money is just one way we express our own history and background. When it comes to the topic of money, we each carry not only our own fears and hopes, but the fears and hopes of those who raised us and those who we grew up with. Money, for each of us, has a story, with lots of voices playing a part. In order to understand how to talk to your significant other about finances, there are few things you must do first.

Money, for each of us, has a story, with lots of voices playing a part.

Understand each other’s “money story.”

I imagine that when you first met your significant other you swapped stories. Maybe even on your first dates, you filled each other in on who you are and where life has taken you. You probably fell in love with your partner as you heard some of these stories. Maybe some of these stories caused you to take pause or maybe some of them were healing to share with each other.

Whatever the case, you probably got to know each other by sharing the stories you each carry. However, even with all this sharing in the early stages of dating, it is unlikely that you shared your “money story” with one another. 

What is your money story? It is all the things you remember and experienced around money growing up in your family and in your larger culture. What were the implicit and explicit rules surrounding money? Were there experiences of being without money that make spending it anxiety provoking?

Was it encouraged that success means making a lot of money? Does that perhaps influence your goals today? Is giving money to those in need a value you were taught? Or were there people around you who spent and lost money irresponsibly which created a fear of doing the same?

[Your money story] is all the things you remember and experienced around money growing up in your family and in your larger culture.

The questions and details of each of your stories will be very unique. Spend some time getting to know and sharing with one another your “money stories.” You will likely marvel at what you never knew and how much more you know your partner afterward.

It’s never just about money.

Remember the iceberg analogy? Well now that you’ve shared your unique stories about money with each other, you may understand more of what goes into each other’s opinions, beliefs, anxieties and hopes about money. Spend some time discussing each of your personal patterns with money.

Is one of you very detailed and never spends a dime not allotted for in a spreadsheet? Does one of you spend more than you make, getting caught up in an emotional moment before crunching the numbers? Think through and discuss these patterns and tension points. Then, connect them to the stories you shared and just learned about the other.

Where does your story influence your decisions? What part of your family history do you want to emulate? What part of your history do you hope not to repeat?

Understand that when you talk or even disagree about money, you are touching on the parts of the iceberg underneath the water. Get curious together about what is impacting each of you as you share.

Understand that when you talk or even disagree about money you are touching on the parts of the iceberg underneath the water.

Prioritize your bond.

If it’s never just about the money, what should be the focus of understanding each other’s stories? One of the emotional questions we are all asking—especially in our most important relationships—is: Can I trust you?

According to the therapy model developed by Dr. Terry Hargraves, we all want to know that we are safe in the world and more specifically, safe with one another. So if your money story holds places of anxiety or a history of worry—or if you or your partner’s behaviors with money cause anxiety for the other—understand it’s still not only about the money.

It is about knowing that you can count on the other person. It is about knowing you will have what you need to feel confident that you will be OK in this world. It’s about knowing that your partner will help this feeling, not threaten it.

It’s still not only about the money. It is about knowing that you can count on the other person.

So as you talk about money, ask each other what you need to feel like you are reasonably secure in the world. Ask each other what behaviors and choices help build confidence in your partner around the topic of money.

Merge your stories: Make a plan that fits you both.

Finally, you are a couple now, not just an individual. You are two stories merged into one. This can feel hard sometimes, but it can also be amazing.

Discuss together which part of each of your stories you want to carry forward in terms of money. Also, figure out which parts you want to do differently and where you hope to veer away from the habits of your parents and those who came before you. Define together what you hope your shared relationship with money will look like. You’re writing a new story together.

What story do you hope those who see you or come after you will learn from the way you interacted with money? What do you want to include, aim for or prioritize as a couple going forward?

Image via Frank Terry, Darling Issue No. 6

What You Need to Know About Sunscreen This Year

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The time has officially come: I actually wear sunscreen every single day (I know, I’m an advanced individual in society). But of course, as soon as I finally get my sh*t together, sunscreen has a pretty tough year. There’s been sunscreen recalls from Johnson & Johnson, big drama in the Korean sunscreen world surrounding labeling their sunscreen and third-party testing, and lots of misinformation and confusion concerning shady ingredients that the FDA isn’t sure are safe. After what feels like headline after headline, we’re all left wondering which sunscreen is actually safe. We got down to the research and asked a few experts for the 411 on sunscreen in 2021.


In this article

The Drama With Benzene

What About “Reef-Safe”?

SPF Labeling

The Korean Sunscreen Controversy

What Kind of Sunscreen Should You Buy?

How Can You Vet Your Sunscreen?

Which Sunscreens to Try


Meet the expert
Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, MD FAAD
Dr. Loretta Ciraldo is a board-certified dermatologist in Miami with over 40 years experience and the founder and owner of Dr. Loretta skincare.

Meet the expert
Dr. Ailynne Marie Vergara-Wijangco, MD
Dr. Ailynne Marie Vergara-Wijangco is a clinical dermatologist and researcher at Thank Your Skin. She specializes in acne, scarring, and oily skin.


The Drama With Benzene

On July 14, Johnson & Johnson recalled five aerosol sunscreens that contained trace amounts of benzene, a carcinogen. According to the CDC, long-term exposure to benzene can cause leukemia, excessive bleeding, decreased immune system, and more. However, Johnson & Johnson said, “​​Daily exposure to benzene in these aerosol sunscreen products at the levels detected in our testing would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences” and that they were recalling these products just to be cautious. It covers all SPF levels and canister sizes and includes these products: Neutrogena Beach Defense, Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport, Neutrogena Invisible Daily, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer, and Aveeno Protect + Refresh. J&J urges those who own these to stop using them and purchase an alternate form of sun protection.

The FDA is currently investigating 12 chemical sunscreen ingredients: cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone, and avobenzone. Of those, oxybenzone is receiving the most press, as the Environmental Working Group, an organization of scientists and policy experts, cited studies that state it can be absorbed into the bloodstream and has been found in breastmilk, blood, urine, and more bodily fluids and can disrupt the endocrine system.

However, how do these effects weigh against the risks of skin cancer? The FDA originally said the fact that an ingredient was absorbed into the skin did not “mean that the ingredient is unsafe”; however, they also recognize that as Americans use more and more sunscreen, it deserved another look.


What About “Reef-Safe”?

Hawaii has already banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in order to protect coral reefs and other marine life. These ingredients cause coral bleaching, which is when coral expels the algae tissues living inside them (which is what gives them their beautiful color), leaving a white transparent color behind. For some coral, they’ll starve without this algae, putting coral and the marine life that need coral to survive in danger. Now, many sunscreens are being labeled “reef-safe” to show that they don’t cause this damage and don’t contain those two ingredients.


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SPF Labeling

The way brands label their sunscreens is also being looked at. When you go to buy sunscreen and there are options ranging from SPF 15 to SPF 100+, how are you supposed to know which ones to buy? The FDA is looking into requirements around labeling to prevent confusion, especially considering SPFs over 60 don’t always provide more sun protection.

Dr. Loretta Ciraldo MD FAAD, dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta skincare, explained that more is not better with SPF numbers. “I recommend you use an SPF in the range of 30 to 60 and nothing lower or higher.” When you use an SPF 100, you’re getting about 1 percent more coverage from the UVB burning rays than an SPF of 50, but that higher amount isn’t actually worth it. If it’s a mineral formula, it would be very white and cause a harsh cast on the skin with lots of pilling (nope!). In a chemical formula, those chemical ingredients could be absorbed into the bloodstream (as explained above) at these higher levels, and the FDA isn’t sure of the long-term effects of that yet. Plus, Dr. Ciraldo explained, an SPF above 60 offers less UVA protection, which is what’s to blame for skin cancers like melanomas, hyperpigmentation, and aging.


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The Korean Sunscreen Controversy

For years, North Americans have looked to Korean sunscreens because the regulations in other countries and continents are stricter than in the West and their formulas have been easy to use, comfortable, and good for your skin. However, two European laboratories tested a bunch of Korean sunscreens and discovered that the SPF in a popular Korean sunscreen, Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sun, was much lower than the label. The brand claimed it was SPF 50, but tests showed it was only SPF 19. While this isn’t nothing, it’s recommended that your face sunscreen lie anywhere from SPF 30-50.


What Kind of Sunscreen Should You Buy?

The FDA is set to release new guidelines on sunscreen ingredients, labeling, and requirements by Sept. 27, but what are we supposed to do while we wait? Some experts recommended opting for mineral sunscreen in the meantime, which include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, two ingredients the FDA already deems safe. “Mineral sunscreens work differently because they sit on the top of the skin and deflect or scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin,” said Dr. Ailynne Marie Vergara-Wijangco, MD, dermatologist and writer at Thank Your Skin. She explained that because of this, those with sensitive and acne-prone skin often tolerate mineral sunscreens better.

However, Dr. Ciraldo recommended using the sunscreen you like. “Because zinc oxide is often chalky and many people don’t like the white cast it gives on their skin, dermatologists often advise their patients to use a sunscreen product that you like whether it is chemical or mineral,” Dr. Ciraldo said. “Having SPF on skin is much more important to us than going without just to ‘avoid’ the chemical sunscreen actives.”

As far as the best sunscreen formula, Dr. Ciraldo suggested choosing based on your activity. Go for something waterproof if you’re swimming and sweatproof if you’re playing sports or being active. Beyond that, she recommended choosing something fragrance-free if you’re sensitive to fragrances, as this could cause allergic reactions.


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How Can You Vet Your Sunscreen?

If you’re unsure if your favorite sunscreen is up to par, don’t fret. First, do a little research. You can look up a product’s name on, which verifies that the manufacturer of a product is registered with the FDA and has gone through its proper testing in the U.S. Research the brand and read the product’s ingredient list, especially the active ingredients. 


Which Sunscreens to Try

There are still plenty of sunscreens deemed safe by the FDA, so don’t take this as your opportunity to forgo sunscreen the rest of the summer. Here are a few sunscreens you can feel safe wearing:


SPF 30 Non-Aerosol Spray

This is one of the most innovative skincare launches of 2021. Finally, a good-smelling, non-aersol spray, reef-safe sunscreen you will proudly reapply during your beach day.

Shop it now

Hero Cosmetics

Superlight Sunscreen SPF 30

This is the best sunscreen for acne-prone skin. It contains only mineral ingredients and is in a green formula that reduces redness without leaving a cast.

Shop it now


PLAY Everyday Lotion SPF 30

It’s your classic daily sunscreen lotion from the brand we all know and love for sunscreen. This one is great for the face and body. If you want something with a little more pizazz, our editor loves the Glowscreen and Unseen Sunscreen.

Shop it now

Black Girl Sunscreen

Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

If you have a medium to deep skin tone and typically ward off any signs of sunscreen in fear of a white cast, this will change your mind. Read our writer’s review comparing the moisturizing classic formula and their new matte version.

Shop it now

Sun Bum

Sunscreen Spray SPF 30

If you’re not sensitive to fragrance and like to smell good at the beach and pool, Sun Bum has a safe, effective aersol formula with the perfect summertime coconut scent.

Shop it now


Sport Mineral Sunscreen Spray

You’ll want a sweatproof formula if you’ll be running around outside, and this mineral version will stay on through every single activity you’ll be doing.

Shop it now


Everywhere You Need to Use SPF That You’re Forgetting To
For your beach and pool days, hiking, and any other outdoor adventures you get to this summer, don’t miss putting sunscreen in these key areas.