Money is the root of all evil, right?
You would certainly think so with the way that people fight over it every day. Money is one of the leading contributors to divorce in this country, and has been for a while. While divorces strictly because of money are around 5%, 70% of couples attribute money issues to their lists of other causes.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Unlike taxes, arguments about money aren’t inevitable.
Practically Everybody Has Money Pains
Money causes many people pain and suffering, because everyone has different perspectives. Joe wants to spend his dollars as soon as he gets them, seeing no reason to save for a rainy day. Jane wants to stockpile every penny, because she’s terrified that Medicare won’t be there for her when she needs it, and she doesn’t want to be saddled with medical bills she can’t afford.
Even with a $5,000 pad in their checking account, and a quickly growing savings account boasting $15,000 — thanks to Jane’s hoarder attitude — she still feels like money will evaporate if not cared for.
Joe knew Jane was like this when they married, but he never anticipated the conflict their different perspectives would cause.
Why Money Gets In The Way
To a couple newly in love, money’s the last thing on their mind. They see only one another, and the unlimited beauty of their possible future. When looking through rose tinted lenses, it’s all too easy to ignore the financial danger signs.
So when Elizabeth wants to spend $200 on a dress while she and Damien are still dating, he agrees; it looks beautiful, and it makes him feel great to see her so happy. He swallows the rising knot in his throat, puts it on plastic, then stows the emotion somewhere for later.
Damien didn’t realize how that one transaction was reflective of a deeper problem that would follow the couple into their future.
Now they’re married, and Damien is constantly reminding Elizabeth to reign in her spending to keep them from diving too deep into debt again. Again, he’s having to take control of their collective finances.
This infuriates Elizabeth, because it makes her feel like a child.
The signs were there, but the couple ignored them. They chose to turn their eyes from their financial differences and wrongly believed that it didn’t matter during the early stages of their evolving relationship.
Many couples assume they’ll learn to live with, and eventually get used to, the other’s way. After all, if a couple isn’t financially compatible, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t marry, right?
But according to statistics, that could be exactly what it means. With money being the number one cause for divorce, evaluating these differences before saying “I do” might be critical to a thriving marriage.
How To Stop The Insanity
1. Decide on how you will maintain your finances ahead of time.
If you’re already married, it isn’t too late. Start from scratch and see what works for you. Some couples choose to keep their finances separate. Other prefer to blend them, with one or both parties paying bills and tracking income. Decide together what’s best for you as a couple. If you decide to let your partner handle the finances, don’t interfere. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask questions; it means that you shouldn’t criticize or try to take over. (Unless they demonstrate an inability to handle them by being regularly late on bills, forgetting to pay, or not keeping track of expenses.)
2. Keep the discussions open.
Discussing your feelings about money keeps the doors of communication open. That way, when something does happen, you’ll know that you can talk to your partner and avoid hurt feelings and bad attitudes. If she wants a new dress, but there’s no way to justify the expense, then you can say it without a blow-up — because you’re always talking about it and have expressed an understanding of how she feels and what she sees.
3. Set boundaries you both can live with.
As a married couple, you expect to compromise and sometimes surrender. Discuss what you can and can’t live without. Set clear lines about how money can be spent, and on what. If you can’t live without your every Tuesday Blu-Ray buy, what will you sacrifice to justify the weekly expense?
4. Articulate your budget together.
Make sure you both understand where your money must go first, then decide on your mutual goals for the rest of it. Once you know where you’re going to spend your dollars, and what you wish to do with the rest, you can work in tandem to reach those goals, supporting each rather than pulling against each other.
5. Love them in spite of their spending.
Love transcends all, right? Look beyond the money and see your spouse for who he or she is. When times get tough — and they will — look at your partner as the person they were when you said “I do.” Remember what it was that kept you together then so you can keep that spirit alive.
Don’t allow your finances to dictate who you’re going to spend your life with. Learn to adjust so that you can adapt, and keep money from ruining your marriage.
Have you dealt with money issues in your marriage?