Why Spouses Shouldn’t Fight Over How To Manage Money

Reasons You and Your Spouse Shouldn’t Fight Over How To Manage Money

How to manage moneyDo you and your spouse ever fight over how to manage money? If so, please read on to see what damage this may be causing to your marriage. It may be a lot more than you realize.

A study done by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, reported that approximately 27% of Americans say that a disagreement about financial issues, usually blows up into an argument. This issue tops the list of other causes of arguments like children, work, household chores, and friends. This not only applies to married couples but also to cohabiting couples as well.

Spousal arguments are never easy, but arguments over money tend to be more distressful and generally linger on. Another study that was done by the Utah State University, found that disagreements that occurred once a week between married couples, over how to manage money, would end up in divorce twice as likely as those that argued less than once a month. Big difference.

This is due in part because arguments over how to manage money generally include more than just finances. Money has come to represent so many other things such as power, control, love, freedom, and even self esteem. Decisions made concerning money, are very personal, and this is why those can lead to nasty fights.

It’s back to the original problem of having “financial intimacy”, many couples can only see their own views on saving and spending and can’t see or understand where their spouse is coming from. We mentioned in a previous article that our views or opinions aren’t the only and best ones, and this is so true here. We absolutely must learn to listen to our spouse’s view, and communicate, not ridicule or criticize, and never fight over how to manage money.

If a couple can talk comfortably about sex, a very personal issue, then why not about money? When both partners give and take, then this will be a very important beginning in resolving money issues. Once we have a better understanding of our spouse’s financial views and opinions, we’ll be able to prevent those nasty arguments, or at least prevent them from escalating into an all out free for all.

A group of financial experts were asked their opinions on the sensitive topic of how to manage money, and they pretty much stated what we previously said. Some had some interesting suggestions and one had a new term called “financial transparency”. All this means is that we need to be open about our finances with our spouse, and we agree. We need to be honest right from the get go and not hide anything.

Before you’re married, let your future spouse know if you have debt or some other possible legal problems, and that includes a previous bankruptcy. There is no way that you’re going to take that into a marriage and keep it a secret for very long. It will come out, and at that point, you have to explain to your spouse why you didn’t tell them about it. You’ll know when the time is right before you’re married to share these types of issues. Also, use some common sense and tact.  Don’t be in a passionate or intimate moment and then look into his/her eyes and say “can I review your tax return””? Just be honest!

Some planners recommend that couples should share credit reports as well as their tax returns so that in doing so, there are no secrets. Their recommendation is partly correct, but those two items won’t reveal everything. Be honest and tell all concerning your finances is my suggestion. One planner suggested that this could be done at the beginning of the marriage, but I don’t agree with that at all. Each spouse has a right to know before the marriage begins.

If one partner has a substantial amount of debt coming into the marriage, a prenuptial agreement might be a wise choice. The couple should meet with an attorney and see what  options are available. Before the wedding day is a good time to create a budget, and that can help to eliminate future arguments on how to manage money. Preparing a budget will also give each spouse all of the financial facts needed to get started in their married life together.

Having a budget in place will enable both partners to see all income and expenses and will show how much each should be spending. At this stage, it’s generally a good idea to allow some flexibility in the discretionary purchases category, as this will be the one where most future changes are made.

Don’t make a budget at this point that is very constricting because it is doubtful that it will be followed by both partners. There is a period of time, when you’re first married which is like a learning stage. Each will be learning things about the other such as habits, etc., and this can encompass many things. When the dust settles, so to speak, you’ll be able to sit down with each other and revisit the various budget items. What it boils down to is that there are two basic types of individuals – a spender or a saver.

Because opposites attract, usually one spouse is a saver and one is a spender.This can lead to conflicts down the road and this is why open communication is so important. Equally important, the couple needs to discuss the use of credit cards. As we mentioned before, each spouse needs to understand the others ideas on how to manage money and not be critical or resentful. This in itself can help to begin their married life on the right foot and to keep the doors of communication wide open. A couple of advisers recommended the couple discuss each parents money habits to see what ones were inherited by the child, but I don’t agree. Even though we often inherit our parents views regarding money, it’s not always the case, and some parents might not want their personal finances known. I could be wrong, but I believe that a parent’s finances should remain personal and confidential until that individual(s) wants it shared.

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30 responses to “Why Spouses Shouldn’t Fight Over How To Manage Money”

  1. Avatar of Stacey Stacey says:

    Me and my partner argue about money occasionally, it can definitely be a stressful topic. As you mention, often one half of the partnership is a spender and the other is a saver which can make everything much worse. With me I like to be very organised and know exactly what money is coming out when, whereas my partner prefers to just pay things as they come in and has a relaxed attitude to it all which bothers me a lot. I think in reality there are probably a lot more than 27% of couples that argue about money, in fact I’d guess it to be more like 90% regardless of how wealthy they are.

  2. Avatar of ed pierce ed pierce says:

    It’s too bad there isn’t a course on how to deal with this.It does seem like it’s a major issue any time it’s brought up and usually we just change the subject so as not to argue.

  3. Avatar of Katy Katy says:

    My parents quarrel over financial issues every other day, and the bickering keeps getting more intense each time…

    I forced them to visit a financial advisor recently. Sometimes it just takes a third party’s perspective to align their views in place. Fortunately, things were settled after everyone’s financial expectations were spelt out.

  4. Avatar of Lise W Lise W says:

    A couple should always be transparent with each other, not just on financial matters. It’s kind of ironic how so many couples can comfortably talk about sex, and yet get tongue-tied when discussing their finances.

  5. Avatar of Tommy J Tommy J says:

    It’s easy to tell couples not to argue, but what can be done instead? Simply living in a situation where one or both parties is dissatisfied with how the finances are handled can be really stressful, and also detrimental to the relationship. In my opinion, as long as both people are cooperative and ready to face challenges together rather than against each other, issues should be aired out and dealt with promptly, rather than let resentment build up.

    • Avatar of Gust Gust says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Don’t hold it in, but as I mentioned, communicate in a good way. Both parties should lay it on the table and discuss in a constructive way, without being critical. What the article was referring to was not to argue or scream because of the way finances were handled, but to communicate & offer suggestions.

  6. Avatar of Jamies Jamies says:

    Me and my spouse set a budget. Stick to the budget that you both agree on is key and you’ll be fine.

  7. Avatar of Mandy Allen Mandy Allen says:

    You ask ‘if a couple can talk about sex why not about money’ but the fact is sex is shared, money is your own that you earn and after the necessary payments are made it is considered my many that the rest is their’s to do what they want with. It is a problem as people do have very strong views about spending and saving. You simply have to reach a compromise to retain a healthy relationship, and it does have to be a compromise on both sides.


  8. Avatar of Ruth Martin Ruth Martin says:

    This article brings back an incident that happened with my husband and myself, a short time ago, involving $650 dollars. My husband’s co-worker wanted to buy a snowmobile, but did not have the finances he needed to get it. So he asked my husband to lend him the money, and he’d pay it back gradually. I was not happy about it when I heard it, and told my husband so. He had decided to go ahead with it anyway, but then another co-worker, whom he really respects, told him it wasn’t a good idea, so my husband stalled, and began having second thoughts. The real clincher in it all was that our dryer broke down, right after my husband had already pulled the money out of the bank to use for buying the sled. So – the story ended with him giving me the cash to buy a new dryer instead. The money was just the right amount!

  9. Avatar of Anne Moore Anne Moore says:

    Your post is right on the money… pun intended. I’m a saver and my husband wasn’t, so for sure opposites attract. And money was what we argued about constantly, especially about our student loans. If I had it to do over again, I would never have married someone who had such different takes on financial matters. And no way would I recommend anyone marry until they are comfortable, both of them. Thanks for your insight.

  10. Avatar of John John says:

    That’s true, one’s the saver and one’s the spender. After 25 years of marriage I’m the spender and my wife had become the complainer – just kidding. We’ve worked it out with one credit card that I’m minded on, and any outside work I do I keep the money for myself.

  11. Avatar of Brandy Oliver Brandy Oliver says:

    This definitely hits home! Even though my husband usually seems ok with everything, (I do our bills, budgeting, etc). Mainly because he is a self employed truck driver and I am the math nut and have the time, (sort of;).
    But there are times when we need so much for a truck repair, and it could be the 4th costly repair for the month, and we have an argument. Usually because he says he works so hard and so often that he doesn’t know why or where all of the money is.
    I fully understand why he thinks this way, I feel the same way too, where is all of our money??
    Everything increases all the time, but we seem to be earning the same amount that we did years ago. There is something wrong with this picture!
    Since he doesn’t want anything at all to do with the bills, he kind of doesn’t even know where the money is going or how much things cost. He’s been out of the loop. When I try to explain and show him, of course he doesn’t want anything to do with it, lol. But it is stressful, I hate arguing, period. But I really can’t deal with fighting over money.
    Couples are supposed to be partners also, and work together. We did start an envelope budget plan last year and it has been working great!
    We figured out a set amount for each expense, (after bills of course), and on paydays, we fill the envelopes and when it’s gone, it’s gone. If there is any extra left at the end of the month, we throw that into a savings account. (For the surprise expenses that always pop up!)
    This is something that has worked for us, so far. Plus it is nice to have an envelope each week with our own names on for spending money, even if we have sometimes just a $20 inside;)

  12. Avatar of Ozell Stowe Ozell Stowe says:

    One thing that I see all the time is that they will agree on a budget but then one of them doesn’t understand why they can only spend X amount of dollars while the other one is trying hard to stay on track. Or, the one managing the money tends to spend a little bit more than the other because they know they can hide it. In my opinion, once a budget is set and money is placed in savings and emergency fund, set aside for food, gas, lunches, kids, then the spouses should take the remainder and split it. This allows them to have money set aside for everything including what their kids might need but also allows them a little bit of spending money.

  13. Avatar of Conner P. Conner P. says:

    Love the post. You are so right, couples shouldn’t fight over money management. There are enough challenges for couples to disagree over that they have no control over to deal with.

  14. Avatar of Liz R. Liz R. says:

    Money does seem to be such a hard thing for couples. I wish there was a course or some easier way to deal with money issues.

  15. Avatar of Mandiee Mandiee says:

    Funny How they’ve said that If money is the solution to a problem then it is not a big problem..
    And here we have couples fighting over the solution.

    I guess we should understand that money is a value and shouldn’t be a possession.

    And it’s going to get tougher between couples, when one starts to mention “I’m spending my money, not yours”
    The thing is, on a personal level. Each and every person understands that their hard work returns them with money. But what they fail to see is, in a relationship. It’s about keeping a balance. Doesn’t mean yours is yours and mine is mine. But more of a, it’s ours. It’s WE trying to keep the boat from sinking.

    • Avatar of Gust Lenglet Gust Lenglet says:

      This is another reason why couples need to discuss the money issue before they get married. You’re so right, it should always be WE and not I or ME. Each spouse needs to put forth 110%.

  16. Avatar of john led john led says:

    Money is important but don’t be greedy too much. It can cause problem and conflicts to your family. You need to prioritize, first the family

  17. Avatar of Sarah Sarah says:

    You are doing good job with great concepts, really like to read your posts. Please give some more detail about this.

  18. Avatar of Esther Paul Esther Paul says:

    We partners always set a plan and spend as per the plan. Also we try to save money by cutting down some unnecessary expense. It is at times a pain being in a lot of limit but good on a long run.

    • Avatar of Gust Lenglet Gust Lenglet says:

      Thanks for your comment Esther. Yes, I agree, at times it might be a little difficult following a budget, but when the day arrives and you’re debt free, you’ll be glad you did.

  19. Avatar of Claude Jacobs Claude Jacobs says:

    Love may be more vital, yet it won’t take care of money. If you can handle negotiating together to ensure both individuals feel they obtained something they want, money will certainly be much less of a trouble. It’s more the ability of negotiating that’s necessary. Money is just the thing being worked out.

  20. Avatar of Bonnie Webdale Bonnie Webdale says:

    It’s a shame that money is such a “cause of tension”. When used correctly and without greed, it’s a great way of trading (easier than days of trading animals, grains, etc)

    I’ve been writing about guarantor loans which although a good product, can cause tensions in the same way that lending money to your partner might.

    Money control should be brought out into the open and managed as a family, and from what I’ve read, that seems to be the best way to do things.

    • Avatar of Gust Lenglet Gust Lenglet says:

      Thanks for your comment Bonnie. A couple should begin sharing information from the engagement and all throughout marriage, and not hide anything. There is no one method that will work for every couple, so each needs to discuss this in detail and decide how they will handle money. I looked at your site and had no idea guarantor loans were being promoted in England. It’s an interesting concept, and not a bad rate of return for the lender.

      • Avatar of Bonnie Webdale Bonnie Webdale says:

        Gust – I totally agree.

        Yes, guarantor loans are becoming quite a big thing in the UK. Helps make credit more accessible to people without having to borrow directly from friends/family. But then as with everything, new solutions can create other problems and can also cause money tensions. You are correct though, it can be a fairly good return (as long as they are repaid!) and in that respect is a clever concept.

  21. Avatar of Mike Rizzo Mike Rizzo says:

    Ed Pierce said it perfectly. You can keep changing the subject but it is always there. Would it be best just to let it out and get it over with?

    • Avatar of Gust Lenglet Gust Lenglet says:

      There is a course & its called Psychology 101. However, let me be quick to say that everyone is different and no one size fits all. For many couples, a comment like “there’s a subject that no one likes to talk about, but the sooner we discuss it, the better we’ll both feel”. Even that one doesn’t always work. As you say, just lay it out on the table and deal with it may work just fine. Hopefully by the time a couple is married, they should know each other better and can decide on the best time to approach this topic. My wife and I had no problem discussing this as we discussed who should be handling the money. We have a joint account & both of us put all our money in it.

  22. Avatar of Chimezirim Odimba Chimezirim Odimba says:

    The truth is that fighting over who “controls” money in a marriage shows a serious lack of understanding of what the union is all about. It’s painful that many people don’t respect their spouses enough to understand where they have superior abilities. I believe that if a couple has this understanding, they’ll find it easy for the spouse that has shown superior money skills to have the final word (That is, by previous mutual consent).

    • Avatar of Gust Lenglet Gust Lenglet says:

      I think a better term instead of “controls”, might be “manage”, and I certainly agree with you. The spouse who has the best ability to manage the money should be the one doing it. Both spouses, however, must agree on this and have equal input on the decisions made. We find that this important topic should be discussed before marriage and regular times to discuss finances after the marriage. Thanks for your relevant and timely comment.

  23. Avatar of financial planners financial planners says:

    we all see how money control our relationship.. i think its better if there’s only one person to handle the expenses. and they must both agree and discuss who is the one who manage the money.. to avoid tension.

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