Do You and Your Spouse Fight Over Money?
Do You and Your Spouse Fight Over Money?
If so, you may be surprised to know how much damage it can do to your marriage. The problem usually isn’t just short-term either…it can result in a lingering resentment. Couples that fight over money often times don’t have a money discussion before the marriage.
The American Institute of CPA’s conducted a study a few years back regarding this issue, and the results were eye-opening to say the least. They reported that almost one-third of the couples in the study said that a serious argument results when they don’t agree on some financial issue.
The issue of money is usually on top of the list that causes an argument with a married couple. The list includes friends, work, children, household chores, and a few other ones. Having a fight over money doesn’t just include a married couple either…it can and does apply to cohabitating couples too.
A spousal argument in itself is never easy. However, when the argument is about money, it tends to cause more stress, and can linger on. Utah State University conducted another study about disagreements over the issue of money. They found that a married couple who had a money argument once a week, were twice as likely to divorce as a couple who only had one in a month.
This is an alarming statistic, and is due in part to the fact that arguments over money, often include more issues that just finances. Our society today, sees money as freedom, love, power, and even self-esteem. For this reason, a fight over money is seen as highly personal and generally leads to more serious problems.
Some time ago, we wrote an article about a couple achieving financial intimacy. By that, we mean each spouse must understand where the other spouse is coming from. We should never accept our own views regarding spending and saving money, and not consider the views of our spouse.
The old saying that it’s often better to listen than speak holds true here especially. It’s crucial that we listen to the views of our spouse and to never criticize or ridicule. If a couple is able to talk comfortably about a personal issue like sex, then what makes money talks so difficult?
An important first step in resolving money issues is to be able to give and take for each spouse, A marriage isn’t just 50/50 either…it works best when it’s 100/100. When we have a good understanding of what our spouse thinks about finances, those fights over money will lessen. More importantly, they won’t escalate into something a lot more serious.
Some financial experts were asked their opinion regarding this sensitive topic of money with married couples, and they generally agreed that it must be open and discussed freely without fear of criticism. One used the term “financial transparency” to describe it, and we agree strongly. It’s extremely important to be completely honest from the very beginning, and not to hide anything.
We recommend an honest discussion before marriage where everything is laid out on the table. Each spouse should list their debt and any other legal or tax problems. That includes contingent liability as well. An example would be a personal loan that you have guaranteed for a friend or relative.
This would also include a bankruptcy, or a pending one. There’s no way you can take that into a marriage and keep it a secret for any length of time. It will become known, and then your spouse will be upset because you weren’t honest enough to tell them about it. Try to explain that!
Before marriage is the best time to discuss these and other financial issues. Don’t begin your marriage by having your first fight over money. Be honest, and don’t try to hide some problem because you may be embarrassed.
We also recommend that the couple create a workable budget before they begin their married life. This will help to eliminate arguments over some petty items. How to fund the budget should be discussed as well… whether to pool the money or each one having their own account.
Making a budget will allow each spouse to see all income and expenses. Usually, when the initial budget is created, it’s a good idea to allow some room for adjustments in the category for discretionary purchases. If changes need to be made in the budget, they will start here.
It’s important not to make the budget overly restrictive because neither spouse will follow it. The first couple of years of a marriage is a learning stage for each spouse, and can encompass a variety of things, such as habits, etc. After a period of time, you’ll be able to discuss the budget in more detail and see if changes need to be made.
Basically, there’s two types of individuals…a spender or a saver. If the marriage has one of each, open communication and meaningful discussions are needed.
Quite often, opposites attract each other, and an issue develops with one being a saver and the other a spender. This can lead to frequent money arguments unless both spouses agree on open communication. The use of credit cards needs to be discussed too, because the spender usually relies on them for purchases.
To reiterate, we can’t stress enough the necessity of honesty and open communications in a marriage. If both spouses work at it and do their best to understand each other’s views of finances without criticism or ridicule, the fight over money won’t escalate.