There can be many points of contention between couples that may lead to conflict. Money is one of the biggest sources of marital discord. Disagreements about how much to spend, save or give in charitable donations vary from person to person based on individual belief and experience. When merging marital incomes, these differences can create significant conflict.
There are five common areas of disagreement when it comes to money and couples. Considering the possible financial pitfalls in a marriage could potentially forestall arguments.
- The main marital disagreements about money stem from situations where one spouse is more of a spender, and the other more of a saver or there is a complete lack of financial goal setting. When couples have disagreements about how to use their money, communication is key to strike a balance. It may be a matter of getting to the bottom of the personal experiences that inform a persons relationship with money – a person who endured poverty growing up may be excessively frugal as an adult or, conversely, abandon saving altogether out of sense of not having control. A person that grew up in relative comfort may not see the importance of saving. Sometimes it is just a matter of not considering money management in general, so financial planning never takes place.
- Another contentious issue between couples revolves around how much money should be given to an adult child. Couples opinions often diverge around continuing support for their grown children. Therapists believe that a couple should come up with rules they can both live by, including how much money is acceptable to give, in what circumstances—such as a job loss—and for how long to avoid setting up an unhealthy dependency in the child and to keep the parents money-lending transparent to avoid disputes.
- If you and your spouse have different priorities on big-ticket spending, experts encourage a practice of affirming and validating your spouse’s values and needs. Couples sometimes do not want to discuss the emotional basis for wanting something that may be costly, so it is up to their partner to meet them halfway. Couples that make an effort to see a purchase from the point of view of their partner – what may be driving the need and the benefit – may be able to gain enough understanding to reach a compromise.
- Having a blended family presents financial challenges for couples hands-down. How you ‘do right’ by children from both sides of a blended family can be difficult. Heated factors such as a previous spouse’s financial responsibility toward the children, a couples leaning toward their own children as opposed to step-children and estate planning can put a strain on a couple’s relationship. Reflection and communication play prominently when trying to make sure everyone is being treated fairly when families merge.
- Finally, experts find marital conflict when one spouse controls the finances. Arguments over who’s controlling the money often occur because couples never discuss how they will make money decisions. Many fail to talk about money before they get married, and just fall into a pattern where one partner handles the finances believing they are on the same page. On closer examination, the partner who relinquished control may be baffled by the habits of the spouse that controls the spending. Therapist encourage couples to ‘look at this from a curiosity perspective rather than ‘who’s doing something wrong’ perspective. The trick is to make sure to keep defensiveness to a minimum, if not completely nonexistent.’ This keeps the line of communication open and provides an opportunity to adopt a new approach when disagreements arise.
Money is the biggest source of marital discord and poor handling of it can be a potential catalyst to seeking a divorce. A proactive approach to marital finances is crucial. Discussing your financial future with your partner, setting goals and establishing a prenuptial agreement can make the process harmonious. If you have questions regarding a family law matter, contact the Law Offices of Schlesinger & Strauss, LLC.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “How Couples Can Resolve Their Biggest Fights Over Money”, By ANDREA COOMBES