According to a 2017 survey by Ramsey Solutions, the issue couples fight about most is money. On the flip side, couples who consider themselves to have “great” marriages regularly communicate about money. It’s no secret that stress caused by fighting over money can be crippling and is a leading cause of divorce.
Secrecy and Silence
Julie and Charles are both high-level professionals with great salaries. To get there, they took on enormous amounts of student loans. Neither spouse likes talking about money, whether it’s their salary or their spending. Charles keeps a slush fund in a secret bank account while Julie frequently maxes out her credit card.
Even though there wasn’t much talk about money, tensions grew between the couple. They knew they should have enough money to cover their expenses, but each month fell short. Julie and Charles began to feel defensive and resentful. They knew their spouse was being secretive.
Fighting over money increased and they both held onto their “own” money tighter than ever. Before they knew it, Julie called a divorce lawyer, spurring Charles to do the same. Their brief marriage was disintegrating quickly due to money trouble and a lack of communication.
Communication is Key in Relationships
When it comes to fighting over money, the scenario above is common. Other sources of tension come from one spouse being a saver while the other spends, or situations where there are gambling issues or lack of a budget. The fighting can be reduced by communicating openly about money and creating a collaborative plan to move forward.
Couples who have common goals and dreams form a stronger bond. Communicating about where you see your financial future can help strengthen your marriage. If you’re ready to work on “money matters” in your marriage, here are some essential steps to take:
- Get on the same page. Sit down and list your worries and dreams. Talk about your core money values and how you want to handle money. Compromise and find common goals. This will allow you to approach finances as a team.
- Stick to a budget. Everyone should have a budget. Without it, it’s easy for spending to spiral out of control no matter how much you make. Be transparent, honest and realistic. Once you create your budget, stick to it.
- Get help when you need it. If you’re having a hard time making it through a conversation without arguing, seek help. Look into counseling or find a financial advisor or a mediator. Professionals can help you look at the bigger picture and learn how to address issues calmly and respectfully.
- Find ways to save money. It isn’t easy, but there are ways to be creative about saving. Whether it’s taking on a freelance job to earn extra money or buying a coffee maker to save your $5 daily habit, saving money can start small.
What to Do When You Can’t Work It Out
Sometimes the situation is too far gone, or one party has no interest in working things out. If that’s the case, divorce may be your next step. Chances are, if there were disagreements over money in marriage, there will be in the divorce, too. The collaborative divorce process can help reduce the fighting when both parties are willing to communicate and work together.
If your money struggles have led you to be ready to learn more about divorce, contact a professional at Best Legal Choices.
Heidi has been a family counselor for 16 years and has worked primarily with separating/divorcing and high conflict families for the past 4 years. Heidi’s goal is to help families reduce the need for future litigation, build resilience and healing, and help families focus on the best interests of the children and parents alike.