Marriage and money problems are a leading cause of stress in many families.
While at first glance, it would be easy to simply blame “money” itself for these challenges, the real source of the problems goes far beyond “money” as well as how much or how little money there actually is at any given moment.
In this article, we address some of the leading causes of stress when dealing with marriage and money problems between spouses while at the same time we provide you with 6 helpful tips that can help you avoid unnecessary suffering.
Tip #1. Get to the “real reasons” behind any money arguments.
Beyond the obvious challenges that having a lack of money may bring a couple, there are many other elements surrounding money that can cause conflict in a marriage. Things such as cultural differences, the conversations around money that each spouse heard growing up, age differences and the role that money plays in each partner’s view on what’s important in life and many other things can all have a negative impact on how a couple handles the topic of money and finances.
Perhaps one of the partners grew up in a a family where money was meant to be spent lavishly, while the other was taught that money is meant to be saved and handled conservatively. Or maybe there is an age difference between partners that influences how each spouse views the importance and role of money in their day to day spending and investments.
Regardless of what the issue may be, it’s important for both spouses to get to the root cause of their differences in money. It’s only when you get to the differences of how each partner sees the role of money, that both spouses can “step into the other’s shoes” and have a productive conversation that will lead to mutual understanding.
Having established that, this leads us to the second tip.
To reach the source of the “real” problem, you need to…
Tip #2. Be completely transparent with your spouse when dealing with money.
Just as keeping emotional secrets and having an affair can destroy a relationship, keeping “money secrets” can be the downfall of a couple. Hiding money and running up secret expenses is very similar to infidelity and can be a very painful and destructive experience when these secrets are exposed.
A truly effective marriage relies on each other for all aspects of their existence, and how money is earned, spent and invested is an absolutely essential aspect to how the couple relates to each other.
Only by having complete honesty when it comes to money so both spouses are fully aware of their financial “big picture”, can there be a conversation between equals.
Having brought up the topic of transparency, there are few things that have as deep an impact in a person’s self worth as money and their financial situation.
Taking that into consideration, it is very important to…
Tip #3. Watch out for hurt egos.
Being transparent has an inherent risk associated with it. You may be familiar with the expression “the truth hurts.” While it is true that sometimes reality can be painful, and facing a negative financial situation can be unpleasant, it is also important not to forget that “the truth shall set you free.”
It is only when a couple can look at the “real” financial situation they are in, that it is possible to have a constructive conversation that can address what really needs to be addressed.
There is no point in “sugar coating” a financial issue if something needs to be addressed. Painting a rosy picture about a money problem will only delay facing the consequences of not addressing the issue.
Still, when discussing any money issues and potential financial difficulties, be sensitive of your spouse’s ego and avoid any hurtful remarks or negative statements about their way of handling money.
Remember that in a marriage, both spouses are part of the same team and only by addressing a challenge together can the marriage have the best chance of overcoming any type of difficulty they may be facing.
While on the topic of ego and communication, a healthy approach to money is to…
Tip #4. Think balance, not ownership. Refer to a couple’s money as “ours” rather than dividing it into what’s “yours” or “mine”.
Beyond the legal obligations that are associated with marriage and any issues such as pre-nuptial agreements that may or may not be in place at the time of the marriage, the healthiest approach to take when speaking about money with a spouse is to refer to the couple’s money as “our money”, rather than as “my money” and “your money.”
To allow for each partner to have some independence in their spending and avoid conflicts, many couples create small “pools” of money that are assigned to each partner which they can spend monthly in whatever they wish. These individual amounts can range from as little as $50 to over $1,000 a month depending on what finances may allow. Still, it’s important that both partners agree on how much that amount should be and that both spouses know how much money is coming in, going out, what is available and what is being spent.
In other words, there needs to still be complete transparency in finances but by assigning small, mutually agreed amounts of money which each spouse can spend as they please, each partner can still feel as if they can make independent purchases.
Having the ability to make independent purchases can give each partner the ability to please themselves, but it’s also very helpful to…
Tip #5. Be generous with your spouse… while still being responsible.
Spending money on yourself can give you a quick fix to feeling better. There is no denying that buying that pair of fancy shoes or nice watch you’ve been looking at for months will definitely give you pleasure.
Still, while buying yourself a gift can give you pleasure, buying your spouse a gift “just because” or spending some of the money you have assigned for your own usage on a “special something” for your partner will pay back major dividends. At the same time, this generous act will go a long way towards showing him or her that they are very important to you.
You don’t need to blow your bank balance or spend a fortune on a present to make a point and prove your love to your spouse. As a matter of fact, the truly responsible thing to do is to keep your spending on the gift within the means of your financial situation. Still, taking the time and making the investment in buying a present for your spouse is a wonderful way to bring your marriage even closer.
Having determined where to spend your little pools of money for each of you, a great way to strengthen your marriage when talking about money in your relationship is to…
Tip #6. Use some of your money conversations as a way to build future goals and strengthening your marriage.
Spending money on things you both want is a wonderful way to build and solidify a future together.
Whether it’s setting money aside for a future vacation, a down payment for a home or for a special project that you will both enjoy such as remodeling your home – talking about money and making plans for the future on how you will both use and enjoy that money will help put both of you on the same page. Thinking about the future and planning for that future together is one of the key aspects of every healthy relationship as it involves having a future where you both play an active role. Take this opportunity to plan a future purchase or investment together as a way to strengthen your ties as a married couple.
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Image credit: Diesel Demon