Money issues are one of the biggest stressors in a marriage. Ironically, it is also an issue for which couples often don’t seek help.
They often don’t equate “money troubles” with “marriage troubles” or think that couples are just supposed to disagree over money.
Conflicts over finances can arise for lots of reasons:
- There just isn’t enough money
- One partner habitually over-spends the budget
- One partner is excessively controlling of family funds
- One or both partners have poor spending and saving habits
- Partners cannot agree on a financial plan
- There is an imbalance in decision-making about finances
This list could go on and on. The bottom line is that money and how it is managed affects every aspect of our lives. And marriage is no exception. Left unaddressed, battles over family finances can lead to feelings of anger and resentment leaving the relationship in ruins.
If you have basic, straight-forward money management questions, the best advice may come from an accountant or financial planner. When the strain of financial issues comes between you and your partner, when you can’t discuss the problems in a healthy way and you can’t find common ground, marriage counseling can help.
How we value money and its use is something we develop early in life and we bring those values to marriage. Money is attached to all kinds of feelings and needs. Financial decisions, like other decisions you make, are grounded in your values and priorities.
What you value or consider important may be significantly different from your partner. Sadly, how you’ll handle the money isn’t usually something that couples decide ahead of time. It usually becomes a problem when there’s a money crisis or values clash.
Money clashes can be some of the biggest and most destructive arguments you’ll have. A marriage therapist can help you and your partner calm the rhetoric and look at the problem more objectively. You and your partner can explore your values, emotions and needs about money that drive your decisions. Your therapist may have you complete a values inventory to help you do that.
Once you understand where each of you is coming from, your therapist can help you find common ground and learn to make financial decisions together that leave each of you feeling empowered. You’ll learn how to have those difficult talks about money without triggering negative feelings and arguments.
Clashes over money don’t have to be tolerated as “just part of marriage”. You’ll spend a lot of time learning how to communicate and practicing those skills. Your therapist may give you and your partner homework assignments. If you have specific money management needs or need financial advice, your therapist may refer you to a financial planner or other money management expert.
Clashes over money don’t have to be tolerated as “just part of marriage”. Couples can find common ground and work as a team. A marriage counselor can help you do just that.