3 causes of marital problems: financial stress
Written by Michael Juilfs

3 causes of marital problems: financial stress

Financial stress is one of the major causes of marital problems, which may lead to divorce. When money struggles arise, it becomes difficult to stay calm or think clearly. This makes communication difficult and leads to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Some of these pitfalls can be avoided by understanding the factors behind financial stress can help. When you see how these problems develop, you can learn to communicate and address them more effectively. This can help you develop alternative approaches that give you a better opportunity to preserve and grow your marriage.

Different Financial Personalities

One of the biggest causes of marital problems is financial stress within a marriage caused by the different financial personalities of the partners. You may be a spender or a saver while your spouse is the opposite. If you always want to put money away, a spouse who buys what you consider to be frivolous items may create friction. Similarly, the spouse who only wants to save every penny and is focused only on the future can be difficult for the spouse who wants to enjoy life today to understand. You see money differently, and that makes it difficult to connect and share common goals.

Treating money or possessions as more important than each other can be another problem. A saver might consider putting money away to be more critical than an anniversary gift. Spenders might want to splurge on a gift for their spouse, thinking that it will bring them happiness, without realizing that depleting savings can make a more critical purchase impossible and causing stress for their partner rather than the joy anticipated.

Whether you are the saver or the spender, differences can lead to disagreements and feelings that your partner doesn’t support your goals. If you don’t learn to work through disagreements and share common goals, it can seriously strain your relationship. Understanding how each of you approaches and thinks about money is critical to working together on finances.

Income Disparities

Another of the common causes of marital problems is an inability to accept differences in income. If you earn more than your spouse, you may feel like you have the right to make most of the financial decisions or that your spouse isn’t doing their fair share. On the other hand, if your spouse has the greater income, you may resent them or feel as if you need their permission to spend money. Either of these feelings can affect your spending and become an obstacle to talking about it.

Often, one of you makes less money by choice. Together, you may decide that one of you should spend time raising children or managing your home without fully contemplating the financial implications. One may sacrifice a job so the other can enhance a career position by relocating or returning to school. If you don’t engage in a real discussion about the consequences of your choices, this can create resentment and misunderstandings–especially if you move toward divorce with those income disparities remaining.

The difference in income is not the root cause of marital problems itself. Instead, it represents a symptom of other difficulties – typically not having shared goals and priorities. You need to take time to speak, listen, and understand each other. This will help you work together rather than against each other.

Communication Strategies

Economic arguments and breakdowns are not inevitable. The causes of marital problems, financial or otherwise, often stem from communication issues. Failure to communicate often creates mistrust and affects decision-making. If you cannot talk about your financial differences, it becomes almost impossible to resolve these causes of marital problems. The more you fight, the less you communicate.

Communication strategies should include both verbal and non-verbal cues. Pay attention not only to what you say but also how you say it. Looking your spouse in the eye helps build trust. Showing through gestures and eye contact that you are listening and that you care make a tremendous difference.

Ultimately, the financial causes of marital problems demand your attention. If you let them grow without addressing them, they will rarely improve on their own. Focus on really communicating when arguments arise, and you can often avoid marital breakdowns. Working with a communications coach or Certified Financial Planner may help you to learn to communicate more effectively regarding financial issues. If you find that you do find you cannot resolve your financial differences and are considering divorce, contact one of the professionals at Best Legal Choices to learn if the collaborative process is right for your situation.