Money is NOT the root of all evil -but the love of money is.
Money is a source of tension and often the root of many divorces.
We spend (pun intended) much energy focusing, managing, being angry, disappointed, and manipulating money.
What is the root cause?
When a couple becomes We or Us, the handling of money should alter to fit the couple. Often though problems arise when money remains Me or I. Some people grew up in homes where money was handled by one parent or a single parent. Money may have been the source of arguments. Depending who controlled the money – there would have been a power imbalance. Unless of course the system worked for both parties. Power and control are the main issues with money problems in marriage.
When you get two people from different backgrounds, they most probably viewed money differently – and they are most likely going to have some disagreements or even divorced because of this.
Also, a young couple is bit in a la la land, so to speak, and they don’t really grasp the reality of how money works and how much life costs.
Stress is often the result of how money is handled. There is very little that can complete for our attention or our affections than money.
Sometimes people use money to buy others love or attention. We use it, we abuse it and we put too much value on it. It is a means to an end – otherwise it may indicate something pathological.
What transpires in between?
Value is important here. When we value something or someone we are more likely to take care of it.
How we handle money says a lot about who we are and what our values are. Open anyone’s cheque book and you will see what they value. HOW they spend their money is a direct reflection of their internal compass.
Ask each other, “What do I value?” Is it your health, home, vacation, work, children, extended family, luxuries, recreation…..etc. Once you really know what you value, it will be easier to see if you both are on the same page.
Know WHO you are. In all ways, but for this purpose, who are you financially? Are you a person who bullies, who cheats and has secrets; who is impulsive, controlling; is organized, is responsible, generous,
a procrastinator, obsessive, emotional, or a stone-waller to name a few traits. Once who know who you are, you will both be more prepared to know what to expect and what to fix.
When ever a couple marries, suddenly their money needs to be shared, divided, and sometimes allocated for things one party does not feel is valid or justified. These decisions should be mutual; however they are often hidden or sneakily maneuvered. This breeds dishonesty and guilt or a feeling of deprivation and discontentment.
So…. How to fix this??
COMMUNICATION prior to marriage is certainly necessary. Clear expectations and goals are crucial to make sure no one gets hurt.
We all come into marriage with expectations. Our past, our present and our future is going to play out – but one thing we don’t realize is that our past is what haunts us. This ghost is lurking to sabotage our relationship.
Think about debts you and your spouse have brought into the relationship. Guess what – they belong to you now as well. How is this issue going to be handled?
So, what is your relationship with the almighty dollar?? Examine this with your partner and see how far you are apart, or how close you are to each other.
A couple of ideas…
One – create a joint account for fixed expenses. This means expenses that are predictably the same every month or year. Examples are mortgage, rent, insurance payments, car payments, taxes.
Two – create a savings account, this account is for planned holidays, kid’s college, unforeseen disasters or just putting pennies away for a rainy day.
Third and fourth accounts that are separate. One is for each spouse. They are called discretionary accounts. They are yours and yours alone. You can spend the money on golf, pedicures, whatever you want – you can give it away if you want – you can give it to me!!
How you calculate this amount is by paying the other accounts first and then whatever is left – is yours.
So, if you pay for all the fixed expenses, and look after your savings accounts you will have a percentage each to put into your discretionary account. Remember its yours- and you don’t have to report to your partner.
Be transparent – hiding is all too common and is a sign there are problems in the marriage in other areas as well.
Develop a plan. Plans are good. Each party knows what to expect and how to get there from here. Plans have several advantages; they help you both communicate your intentions and they show you
both what you value and your commitment to making your plan successful, and to each others needs and wants.
Needs are necessary, wants are desires
This is to some degree subjective; however, it is an important part of being responsible.
It requires a lot of maturity to know how to handle our money smoothly. Expect problems and surprises; life doesn’t exclude anyone from difficult situations. Remember, money is not the problem – it’s how you and your partner handle it!
Ask yourself and your partner a few key questions so that you know where they are coming from with their own philosophy around money.
Money does not mean happiness and most things we can acquire with money are transient and allusive. Its is just energy that is passed for one person to the next all over the world.
We need to be responsible and good stewards of our money. We need to share our money and help those less fortunate. At the end of the day…. we can’t take it with us…
…and that is another article about Inheritances…
Finally, know when to employ a financial advisor. We can’t all be experts on everything!
Be a fair and a good communicator. Take responsibility; be mature, be realistic, organized, fair, generous, and know the difference between needs and wants and knowing yourself; who you are and how to put others needs above your own and how to share. This not only helps you in the world, it will improve if not save your marriage.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Keirsten Provost