In marriages, money is a common source of arguments. Couples may argue day after day about how their finances are not going the way they planned, or how the lack of money forces them to settle for less in their lives. Prolonged financial issues can even lead to a divorce, which is unfavourable for either party due to all the legal costs and hassle involved.
When we say ‘money problems’, the first thing that comes to your mind might be ‘lack of money’. While this might be true, the real issues are actually underlying problems that resulted in these problems in the first place. And the reason these money problems are not rectified and are still a source of arguments for couples, is that the underlying issues were not recognised and solved in the first place.
Some common marital problems involving money include :
1. Income Imbalance
If only one spouse is earning for the family, or is earning more than his/her partner, it can be easy for the higher income earning partner to use this to their advantage. They can use it to determine how money is spent, make their partner feel guilty about certain purchases, or use it in arguments.
Although the norm is for the man to earn more than his female partner, there are instances where the high-flying career woman might be earning more and make the man feel inferior, whether intentionally or not. If this sentiment is not talked out and rectified, it can be hazardous for the chemistry of the relationship.
2. Poor spending habits
It’s not how much you make, but how you spend it. When couples do not spend wisely, they’ll feel that no amount of money is enough. Couples have to recognise their own spending habits and decide for themselves what is right. Interestingly, i’ve met couples who are both big spenders, but often blame each other’s lavish spending. They justify their own spending with ‘it’s my money’ or ‘I’ve been wanting this for awhile”.
If you don’t take care of your money, it won’t take care of you. Honestly ask yourself if you are a careful or careless spender, and work towards changing your money habits. If you earn enough for yourself, but are always having money arguments with your partner, then you need to re-evaluate your finances.
While it is ok for someone to have some sort of debt going into a marriage, it can be a problem when they take on even more debt after the marriage, because they think that with 2 incomes (theirs and their partners) is enough to offset the additional loan payments.
It is the classic ‘earn more, spend more’ mentality in play. With dual income, people are more inclined to spend and take on even more debt.
The problem is that these debts can go overboard. Couples may secretly depend on each other’s income to buy a lavish home or car they wouldn’t be able to afford on their own single income. Worse is when a partner does not declare their debts, or hides it from their partner for fear that the marriage isn’t going to happen if their future husband/wife finds out.
4. Financial Values
When it comes to money, your personality, or how you view money, is one of the biggest influences on how you manage your finances. Often, these beliefs or values that we have towards money were instilled in us since young. It is not easy to change and people go into a marriage with an already fixed view of money. One partner might be a spender, the other might be a saver. Even in trivial situations like what to do today can become arguments when the saver chooses to save instead of spending by going out. It only gets worse with big purchases like a house and a car.
Even if couples do not have debt or loans (which is quite unlikely), they can still argue over money due to differing financial beliefs.
5. Marital issues
While not money related, marital issues like lack of communication or getting into a marriage for the wrong reasons can cause discord among couples. If all your partner talks about is money, or all they care about is spending, then you need to evaluate your relationship.
Some men solve every argument with gifts. This can result in unrealistic expectations from their partner and is not the best way to go about solving problems.
6. Extended Family
With differing financial beliefs and having to deal with your partner’s extended family, you can see how this can do south really quickly. Sometimes, they expect that you spend money in the best interest of everyone, which may not necessarily be something you agree with. Extended families can also cause arguments when they attempt to control your finances.
I have seen how retired in-laws interfere in a couple’s finances by dictating what they should spend on, and make a big fuss if it isn’t spent the way they’d like. They insist on certain wedding arrangements, what type of house to buy, how their finances should be set up and so on. I’ve seen how this break couples up within just the first few years of their marriage and escalates to a family feud, ending in a bitter divorce.
Being in a marriage comes with its own sets of responsibilities, and if someone other than your partner is calling the shots in the finances of the marriage, then it is a recipe for disaster.
Money can help solve marital problems, but only if it used properly. And for it to be used properly, the ones spending it has to have be wise and spend in the best interest of the marriage, not others. It also helps to be less sensitive to what others are saying or expecting.
I feel that this puts less pressure on the couple to meet expectations and attempt to please everyone. When couples work towards their own happiness and decide for themselves how their hard earned money is to be spent, they are one step closer to a more meaningful and lasting marriage.