How to Keep Financial Fights From Ruining Your Marriage
Are money problems in your marriage driving a contentious wedge between you? Are you considering marriage counseling to try and stop the constant bickering about spending, debt, and monetary infidelity?
You’re not alone.
Unfortunately, financial fights are frequently named as a top reason for marital misery, separation, and divorce. Being able to make joint decisions about money is a big deal.
More often than not, a couples’ finances are full of meaning and importance they may not even realize. The significance of money and its use may be widely different for each spouse.
Feelings can run hot if communication and cooperation are failing.
Disappointment and frustration regarding your partner’s irresponsibility, lack of transparency, or a refusal to cooperate can have long-term consequences. These issues can undermine a secure financial future and can seriously erode an otherwise good connection between you.
How you manage your fiscal responsibilities in your marriage demonstrates how much you respect each other’s efforts, needs, and desires. Developing financial communication and maintaining satisfaction in your relationship are strongly linked.
With this in mind, consider these top 6 ways to keep financial fights from ruining your marriage:
1. Take a good look at what money means to you.
How do you feel about money? Why? How did your family of origin think about money? What financial flaws in yourself or your partner upset you?
Get curious about how money or the lack of it affects you.
What’s the point? Consider it the first step in money and marriage counseling. Mindful introspection and awareness of how money really affects you will help to improve financial conversations.
Money fights and discord lead to divorce for many people for a reason. It’s important to understand how your individual ideas about money color your perception and unconsciously drive your responses to each other.
2. Decide how to manage your money early on. Then revisit the topic regularly. Commitment to financial teamwork is vital.
Establishing a sense of mutual accountability, ground rules, and channels of open, productive communication are huge when it comes to shared finances. Consider these points:
• Resolve that you are a team whose combined funds are not to be spent or invested without agreement beforehand. It is crucial that you communicate clearly, compassionately and routinely. Do your best to come together in a spirit of cooperation.
• Respect that your promise to take care of each other is a promise that includes a financial component as well as physical and emotional factors. Deciding to proactively and consistently take care of your finances speaks to your intentions, priorities and the security of your union.
• Recognize that skillful, cooperative money education and management is a crucial part of your mutual future. Marital money problems will occur frequently if either of you feels like financial decisions are up in the air, haphazard, one-sided, or easily changeable without discussion or knowledgeable advice.
3. Maintain financial trust. Secret spending, concealing credit accounts, or accruing debt deceptively can be deal breakers.
Do you trust each other with your money? Trust and money matters can be tricky. If one of you has been irresponsible or deceptive financially, building trust again will take time.
Maintaining your integrity financially keeps tension low and trust high. Protect your ability to deal honestly with each other so that planning your future together remains financially feasible and secure.
Combining your finances, in part or in total, is built on the expectation that you will be financially faithful to each other. Establishing the sense that you can’t or won’t be forthcoming regarding your investments, expenses, resources, or debts sows seeds of suspicion and resentment that can upend an otherwise solid relationship.
4. Play to each partner’s financial strengths.
Marital money trouble is not necessarily inevitable. Financial conversations and decision-making can be torture if your roles are a poor fit. If you make a concerted effort to bear in mind each other’s strengths and abilities, you may have an easier time of it.
Discussing each of your roles before bills are due or accounts are overdrawn is obviously critical. If either of you feels ill-prepared or anxious about the division of your financial tasks discuss problems right away and develop a mutually acceptable game plan.
For example, if one of you is better at bookkeeping then the other partner can simply be updated as to what bills are due or what the savings account looks like. Being kept in the loop is important for there to be a feeling that you are working as a team financially.
5. Resist financial power plays. Avoid using money to manipulate, circumvent, or control each other.
Assert that you and your spouse are indeed financial partners. Neither of you should sense that your financial rights or access to money is unfair. Share what you believe a respectful merger of funds looks like. Watch out for power plays!
When one partner makes much more money than the other, there is a risk of feeling subordinated because of the financial disparity between them. This issue needs to be carefully discussed and reconciled so that there is a better understanding between the spouses.
6. Seek the guidance of professionals.
All in all, money matters in marriage. So much so, that you may you find you are unable to make the healthy changes necessary to manage your joint funds and maintain your marriage well on your own.
There is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed as there are plenty of couples in the same situation. Talk with a knowledgeable couple’s therapist and/or financial planner who can provide sound advice and worthwhile tools to help resolve persistent communication issues and money challenges.
When money has become a problem in your relationship, marriage counseling can help restore peace and build trust between you.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers, intimacy, and communication. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work-life balance.