Money issues are a leading cause of marital problems and even divorce. Money is a thorny issue that can soon escalate into fights, resentment and a great deal of animosity.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Money can be a touchy subject but it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at these common marriage-destroying money issues, and learn what you can do about them.
Hiding money from each other
Hiding money from each other is a sure-fire way to build resentment and destroy trust. As a married couple, you’re a team. That means being open with each other about all things financial. If you’re hiding money because you don’t want to share your resources or you don’t trust your partner not to overspend, it’s time for a serious talk.
What to do: Agree to be honest with each other about all the money you bring into your household.
Ignoring your financial past
Most people have some kind of financial baggage. Whether it’s a lack of savings, lots of student debt, a scary credit card bill or even bankruptcy, chances are you both have some financial skeletons in the closet. Hiding them is a mistake though – honesty is vital for a healthy marriage, and financial honesty is just as important as any other kind.
What to do: Tell your partner the truth. If they truly love you, they’ll accept your financial past and all.
Skirting the issue
Money shouldn’t be a dirty subject. Sweeping it under the rug will only cause problems to fester and grow. Whether your main money issue is debt, a poor investment, or simply making a healthier daily budget, ignoring it is never the right option.
What to do: Set aside time to talk openly about money. Set money goals together and discuss your financial aims as a team.
Living beyond your means
Overspending is a quick way to add lots of money-related stress to your marriage. Sure it’s frustrating when your budget isn’t big enough to support a vacation, hobbies, or even an extra Starbucks, but overspending isn’t the answer. Your coffers will be empty, and your stress levels will be high.
What to do: Agree that you’ll both live within your means and avoid unnecessary debt or over indulgence.
Keeping all your finances separate
When you get married, you become a team. You don’t have to pool every last one of your resources, but keeping everything separate can soon drive a wedge between you. Playing the game of “this is mine and I’m not sharing” or “I earn more so I should get to make the decisions” is a quick road to trouble.
What to do: Agree together how much you’ll each contribute to your household budget, and how much to keep aside for personal spending.
Not setting common goals
Everyone has their own “money personality” that covers how they spend and save. You and your partner won’t always share money goals, but setting at least some shared goals is really helpful. Don’t forget to check in with each other regularly to make sure you’re both still on the same page.
What to do: Sit down and agree on some goals that you share. You might want to have a certain amount in savings, or put enough aside for a vacation or a comfortable retirement. Whatever it is, spell it out, then make a plan to work on it together.
Forgetting to consult each other
Forgetting to consult each other about major purchases is a source of friction for any marriage. Discovering that your partner has taken money out of your household budget for a major purchase without discussing it first is sure to wind you up. Likewise, making a major purchase without asking them will frustrate them.
What to do: Always consult each other before making a major purchase. Agree on an acceptable amount that you each can spend without discussing it first; for any purchase over that amount, talk about it.
Micromanaging each other
Talking about major purchases is a good idea, but feeling like you owe your partner an explanation for every single thing you spend, is not. Micromanaging everything the other spends demonstrates a lack of trust, and will feel controlling to the other person. You need to discuss big ticket items; you don’t need to discuss every cup of coffee.
What to do: Agree on a discretionary fund amount for each of you to have without needing to be accountable to the other.
Not sticking to a budget
A budget is a vital tool for any household. Having a budget and sticking to it helps you manage your incomings and outgoings, and makes it easy to see at a glance where money is coming from, and where it’s going. Deviating from the budget can throw your finances out of whack and leave you short when bills come due.
What to do: Sit down together and agree a budget. Cover everything from regular bills to Christmas and birthdays, kids’ allowances, nights out and more. Once you’ve agreed on your budget, stick to it.
Money doesn’t have to be a bone of contention in your marriage. With honesty, an attitude of teamwork, and some practical steps, you can develop a healthy relationship to money that benefits you both.