Are You Doomed for Divorce?

by Vincent King · 9 comments

Divorce

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? 

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty October 15, 2012 at 5:56 am

Love them in spite of their spending? Are you kidding me? What happens if they are secretly in debt by 30k? What happens when you can’t make the mortgage because of their spending? Keeping up with the Jone’s new car, latest trip, big screen tv? I have seen up close and personal what being irresponsible causes, no food for the kids, moving from house to house, the creditors at the door.

If you or your spouse can not agree on what to save, what to spend money on, what the big picture is going to look like then you are in SERIOUS emotional, financial trouble. It will not get better, only worse. This article where love trumps all doesn’t deal with the real world. Love also means saying no, and yes even breaking up over the extent of one’s lack of financial responsibility. No one ever said being married is easy, it isn’t you both have to work at it and yes, sometimes you have to say no and mean it.

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KM October 15, 2012 at 7:17 am

You are talking about an extreme case, which is probably an exception. Although, you can still love a person if they are not right for you and you are separated because you just can’t live together. But I also understand the author’s point – my husband likes to spend (not to the point of not being able to pay the mortgage, but indulgences that I would skimp on) and I don’t. So I have learned to give him a little room and stop fighting about those little things because I lose more with the stress. Being somewhat spendy doesn’t have to mean irresponsible, which is definitely a problem and not just in the financial sense.

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Rohit @ The Money Mail October 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm

For me its really important to talk about money. I talk about money on my blog, I talk about money with my parents, I talk about money with my wife and I will talk about money with my kids. Me an my wife, we like different things and are free to make our purchases unless its a big ticket item.

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Mandy Knight October 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I like your number 4 point about making a budget together. A dictated budget never works for long. Also it might be beneficial to take turns paying the bills, and doing the grocery shopping. My hubby changed his snacking habits when he realized how expensive some of his snacks were, and I started to conserve hydro when I saw the bill creeping a little higher then we liked.

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Derek Knight - Freeat33 October 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm

This is interesting. I am the hubby mentioned by @Mandy Knight above. I didn’t know she had read this article.
Both my wife and I are PF Bloggers. So, we generally do not fight about spending too much on things. We sometimes can be the other way though, where we talk about money way to much. We sometimes forget to be a couple because we are too busy being business partners.
On a side note, I had a boss once in his 70′s who was working because his wife developed a gambling problem in her late 60′s and lost everything. It never came up for 60 years, then BOOM. Chronic Gambling.

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Shane October 22, 2012 at 11:57 am

I think it is a good idea to have separate accounts and one mutual account then you both have your own money to do with as you like and a joint account to cover mutual expenses

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Allen Andringa December 28, 2012 at 7:54 am

To answer your question–WRONG!
You grossly misquoted the very first sentence in your column. “THE LOVE OF money is the root of all kinds of evil” is the proper quote. Money isn’t evil, it is our attitude towards it that can be evil.

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Mary February 15, 2013 at 10:51 am

My ex was such a cheapskate that he argued with me about buying blanket sleepers for our 1-year-old son. He told me that boys don’t wear pajamas. His mother told him that boys sleep in their underware and T-shirts. His mother had 9 boys and 5 girls. Of course she didn’t want to buy them pajamas. She was, and continues to be, extremely cheap. We live in Wisconsin where the winters are cold. I consider a 1-year-old to still be a baby. Babies wear pajamas to keep them warm. A 1-year-old does not keep a blanket over himself all night to stay warm.

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Mary February 15, 2013 at 10:56 am

I forgot to mention that we could well afford to buy the pajamas and anything else we wanted or needed. He just hated to part with any money unless it was for something he wanted that he really had no use for. It would be a very long list of things he bought that were useless and unnecessary, yet he had to have them. A guy doesn’t need two motorcycles and a scooter or five cars that only he can drive, but he had them. He also spent a great deal of money on a tractor because he wanted to grade our land himself; however, he never got the tractor to run long enough to do anything with it. He wound up loaning it to his brother along with his trailor and truck. His brother sold all three items and pocketed the cash. But my wanting to buy my baby pajamas was out of the question.

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