Money is often cited as one of the biggest reasons a couple gets divorced. Many couples mistakenly believe that if they just had a little more money they wouldn’t have as many problems. However, couples with all different income levels still fight about money. Money can lead to a variety of marital problems if it is not managed appropriately. Here are some of the biggest ways money can lead to serious marital discord.
Saving Versus Spending
Often in a relationship, one person tends to be more of a saver while the other person tends to be more of a spender. People who spend their money more freely often develop the attitude of “this will make my life better today,” when making a purchase.
In contrast, savers are not focused on today, but on tomorrow. They want to save more of a nest egg by thinking, “this will make things better in the future.” So when one person lives for today and the other person plans for the future, how can they agree on money habits?
One way is to discuss what sort of an emergency fund you need to feel comfortable. Many experts recommend having three to six months’ worth of expenses in the bank just in case of an unexpected illness, job loss, or mishap. Discuss what amount of money you need in order to feel comfortable. For some, this may be $1,000 while other people may want $50,000 or more. Depending on your lifestyle, there is no absolute amount.
Also, discuss your financial goals. How much do you want to save for retirement? What sorts of things are important to you when it comes to quality of life? How much are you willing to work?
Discuss what sorts of things are important to both of you. If your spouse values a newer vehicle, discuss how to make that work. If you value more money in the bank, talk about what amount you need to feel comfortable. Communication is important in order to start working together on financial matters.
Worrying about debt is a fast way to kill any romance. If you are swimming in student loans, car payments, and credit card bills, it makes it really difficult to work together on realistic goals for your financial future.
If you are receiving calls about overdue bills and feel like you have to rob Peter to pay Paul, it is going to impact your marriage. Getting behind financially should cause you a fair amount of anxiety. It is important to use this anxiety to help you solve the problem and work toward a solution.
However, many couples try to ignore financial problems. This will just make your problems get worse. It is important to talk openly about how to solve your financial problems. Sometimes, the solutions aren’t all that desirable, like moving in with your parents. However, it may be necessary if you’ve dug a hole you can’t dig yourself out of.
Money can lead to lots of different boundary violations. For example, do you tell your parents about your financial problems? Do you ever have to borrow money from others? Do you get unsolicited advice from friends and family about how to spend your money?
Financial issues should remain between a couple. When there needs to be an exception, such as borrowing money for an emergency, it should be discussed between the couple first before any personal financial information is disclosed. And if you owe money to people, it is important to be responsible to your debts and pay them back as soon as you can.
It is important to discuss how to respond to people if you find yourself bombarded with unsolicited financial advice. For example, if your mother-in-law frequently tells you that you shouldn’t be spending so much on daycare, don’t feel obligated to talk about your finances. Instead, work with your spouse on developing a plan that kindly lets the intruder know that you won’t be discussing your income or your bills with others.
Hiding or Lying About Money
A quick way to break down trust and make your spouse feel betrayed is to lie about money. Making secret purchases or secretly stashing away money is dishonest. If you and your spouse can’t be honest with one another about money, it is important to examine the health of your marriage.
Even if your spouse is going to be upset, it is important to discuss financial matters openly. The obvious exception would be cases of domestic violence where it may be important to secretly stash away money in order to leave. However, in other situations, it is a betrayal to your spouse to lie about money.
How to Get Help
Where to turn for help depends on your financial problem. If you are drowning in debt, consider consumer credit counseling. If you have difficulty setting and reaching financial goals, a financial advisor can be of assistance. If you are struggling with differences in values and beliefs about money, consider marriage counseling. Marriage counseling can help you identify destructive behaviors that are contributing to your financial problems and can help you work together on your goals.