Even the happiest of couples argue. Disagreements are inevitable, but one topic is overwhelmingly cited as the leading cause of marital friction; money. Not only are we each raised to value money differently, but unprecedented financial strains imposed by the economy cause the subject to be incredibly stressful.
It is important to communicate with your spouse about money and finances. Failing to be on the same page can prove to be disastrous.
While there are many reasons money can trigger marital issues, these are the 4 we think should be at the forefront of marital discussions.
Whether it is brought into the marriage by each spouse or incurred once the marriage has begun, debt can be crippling. Suffocating debt can be triggered any number of things – some seemingly innocent and other less palatable – including student loans, mortgages, car loans, credit cards, and gambling. Spouses may have different attitudes toward debt or different ideas on tackling it. These differences can place unnecessary stress on a relationship.
2. Financial Bullying
Single-earner households are less common than they were decades ago, but they still exist. Even if both spouses have income it is unlikely that they will be equal, especially when women generally earn less than men for the same work. If one spouse earns more than the other they may feel entitled to dictate how that money should be spent. This can be incredibly stressful on a relationship. Marriages are a partnership. Resources of a marriage should be treated as an asset of the marriage, rather than the asset of the spouse who earned it.
3. Separate Accounts and Disparity in Spending
More and more marriages are utilizing separate bank accounts and divvying up household expenses. Over time, this can trigger some of the same problems caused by financial bullying. Separate accounts do not encourage spouses to be transparent about how money is spent, which can lead to secret spending that can be detrimental to the marriage.
We’re all brought up to value money differently – some of us are frugal and some of us are willing to loosen the purse strings for trivial purchases. Spouses with separate bank accounts may feel more inclined to align with their spending preferences rather than spending for the good of the marriage. Separate accounts may lead to animosity and resentment over a spouse’s purchases.
There are, of course, valid reasons for having separate accounts. Sometimes one spouse is better at handling finances than the other, and the bulk of assets are better entrusted to him or her. Other times, spouses are completely comfortable with separate accounts and are not worried about their spouse’s spending habits. These are situations, however, that can only be uncovered after a fruitful discussion about marital finances.
Budgets are incredibly important in a marriage. They help spouses keep track of earnings, expenses, and disposable income. Failing to budget opens up doors to overspending and living a lifestyle you can’t sustain. Overspending can lead to increased debt, which will only impose additional stress.
Couples who set aside time to budget their money can reduce the risk of incurring debts they cannot satisfy. Budgeting also allows couples to talk about important financial aspects of their lives – including purchasing a home, preparing to be financial stable for children, and saving for retirement.
Communication and transparency are vital to any relationship. Extend these concepts to marital finances. Open and honest communication about your financial history, habits, and expectations will allow couples to devise a strategy to maximize spending power and reduce money pains. Knowing that money is the leading cause of stress in relationships – and arguments over money are the
Knowing the leading predictor of divorce – is half the battle. Get ahead of money problems by talking to your spouse today.
Originally published on Divorced Moms
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