Do you feel like you fight about money constantly?
If there is one issue that causes upset in
your relationship, does it center around money issues?
Do you wish that you could just figure out a winning
strategy and make these fights a thing of the past?
If that sounds like you, you’re not alone.
I got the following email from Malcolm, a frustrated
reader, who’s having a difficult time managing the finances
and the marriage.
Dear Amy and Andrew,Thanks for allowing me the chance to share my situation.My wife and I seem to be heading towards divorce if we don’t
make some big changes soon, but I can’t see a way forward.We married 17 years ago and for the most part, we have been
happy all that time. We have three children aged 3, 7 and 11,
and we both work hard and have a good support network of
friends and family members.I guess I could say the problems began to surface around 3-4
years ago, when the recession really started to bite here. My
wife lost her job and has struggled to get another one, having
to make do with part-time work which often involves her working
evenings.Up until then we both earned good incomes and enjoyed a good
lifestyle. We own a home as well as a rental investment, and had
regular family holidays.Since my wife’s change in employment and my reduction in hours
(I used to work a bit of overtime which has since been cut back),
money is a bit tighter and we find ourselves fighting more and
more about how to make ends meet.I’ve always come from a very conservative background, so I tend
to sway towards saving, but my wife seems to spend largely as
she always has on stuff I don’t feel we need. It feels like when
I try to talk to her about this, she sees my opinion as trying to
control her.I wish she wouldn’t see it that way. I just worry about how to
live the best life we can and provide for our children on
reduced household income.Who is right? Should we both go to see a financial advisor?
Should we looking at marriage counseling first? I see it as a
money issue. My wife sees it as a marriage issue.I’m confused. Can you help?
If you feel like all you do is fight about money,
spending, saving, and all thing related, then you’re not
alone. Marriage and financial problems happen to be the
number one reason that committed couples argue!
That may not make it easier when you are going through it,
but it certainly helps you to understand just how common
of an issue this really is.
You may feel as if you are constantly going through the
same scenario and yet no changes are made to try and
improve the situation.
So how can you get ahead of these problems?
How can you learn to work together on money issues and be
a team rather than work against each other?
There are some important questions to ask yourself and
some helpful ways to make this a workable issue in your
If you want to be a couple who sees eye to eye on
finances, then here are some things to consider.
Do You Both Have Similar Money Habits Or Are You Total
A very important question to consider is if you both have
similar habits when it comes to finances. This can work
for or against you depending on the way that it plays out.
If you are both spenders then this can be a very sticky
situation. You both enjoy life and get what you want, but
it can mean that you come up short on the funds every week
If you are both big into savings, then you may not mind
spending time at home rather than going out.
If you are both comfortable with a more subdued lifestyle
and happy to save your money, then this scenario may work
well for you.
Many couples however find that they are complete opposites
when it comes to their spending habits. When you have a
couple where one is a spender and one is a saver this can
be a blessing and a curse at the same time.
Some will say that this acts as a “check and balance” sort
of system whereby you never spend too much and you always
have a little in the bank.
Others will say that it’s a catalyst for arguments because
you both want different things and will continue to fight
It’s well worth looking at your spending habits to
determine if you can find some sort of middle ground to
make things easier moving forward.
Do You Have An Open Line of Communication As It Relates to
Sometimes one partner spends their money freely and
doesn’t bother to communicate that to the other-this can
cause serious distress!
When you have an open line of communication about bills,
spending, savings, and everything else financially related
it can really help to ease the burden.
If you both know what you need to pay your bills per
month, and together you set targets concerning your
savings, then this makes for a great start.
You do want to discuss the big purchases and you want to
be on the same page in terms of what you can spend on
items like groceries and entertainment.
The key here is to track things for awhile and keep
communicating until you figure out a system that truly
Is One Of You Solely In Charge Or Do You Share The
Here’s where some of the feelings of resentment or
bitterness come into play. If one of you handles paying
all of the bills, tracking expenses, and trying to save
for your future.
If one is out spending freely and the other is stressing
out about how to make the mortgage payment this month,
then that’s a problem.
Though one person often ends up being in charge of the
overall financial responsibility, it shouldn’t fall solely
Try taking turns with this responsibility or at the very
least have a monthly budget meeting until you get a handle
Just seeing in print where the money is going or what you
have saved (or not saved) can be eye opening for both
This can allow the two of you to discuss what changes need
to be made and even what sort of goals you have in mind in
the near and distant future.
If you have a big goal such as a new house, new car, or
even vacation in mind, then this becomes even more
Try to share in the responsibilities or hand off from time
to time. Simply going through the state of finances for
the family each month can be a winning strategy moving
Have You Tried to Get On the Same Page About Financial
Issues Moving Forward?
What do you both want out of life?
Is it important to save for your child’s future or more
important to save for retirement?
Is it important to you that you get to go out to dinner a
couple of times a week or would you rather save the money?
From the biggest to the seemingly smallest financial item,
you want to determine each of your individual points of
view. Sometimes having different views on financial
matters can help you to figure out how you move forward
You may not always win on your point, but you may find a
good compromise. So rather than aimlessly spending money
or not knowing where it’s going, you can figure out what’s
really important to each person.
This takes time and dedication from each person, but it’s
well worth the effort.
In most cases you can usually figure out what will keep
each person happy to some degree and move forward with it.
When in doubt, talk it out and you will find that your
financial future as a couple is far brighter!
Every crisis is a learning opportunity. You are being called
to work together to figure out a winning financial strategy.
The challenge for you is to apply some of these skills in
discussion as you identify and work towards common goals.
Do this, and the money issues in your marriage will become
a thing of the past.
Now for those of you reading, what additional tips would you
give this couple to help overcome their marriage issues? What
has worked for you or someone you know?
Your thoughts please…