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Seriously, why do couples fight over managing finances? One of the main reasons people end up in divorce court is subject to money issues. Managing finances is a very emotional part of life due to what it means for any one person or family.
Money, no matter what anyone says, can buy some measure of happiness and security. After all, if you have enough money to meet your basic needs you are better off than a large portion of the world.
Beware of The Power Struggle
I Need a Vacation…Or A Divorce
With two incomes and few obligations, Nathan and Natasha Ferguson’s early years were picture-perfect. They enjoyed elaborate wedding celebrations, romantic dinners, and excursions to far-off places. Ten years later, they have four wonderful children and a beautiful home, but stress still permeates Nathan and Natasha’s lives, and even the tiniest conversation quickly devolves into a fight.
There is a Hole in Our Wallet
The Smiths are not a perfect family, like many others. Every month when the credit card payment comes, Joe is upset and Shirley runs away. Shirley adores shopping for little Tammy’s needs, and she never leaves a store without picking up some books, toys, or apparel. Joe thinks that most of these purchases are unnecessary.
The issue has gotten so bad that Joe now routinely checks their credit card activity online and the pair fights about spending virtually every day. Although both parents are in favor of having another child, these discussions frequently result in fights over whether Shirley will be able to continue her extravagant spending.
Why Couples Argue About Managing Finances
When it comes to managing finances, arguments with your partner are just plain different than other kinds of fights. Are you worried about all the bickering and blaming and perhaps shouting and insult-throwing?
You would assume that there are a lot of factors at play when couples argue about money. But it all comes down to a few essential components. Everything begins with how each of us views money considering our upbringing, our parents’ spending habits, our own financial experiences, and how it affects how we feel about ourselves.
Managing finances is complicated and leads to an internalized narrative about how wealth affects our level of happiness and how we fit into the world. It can seem like a moral failure to be poor at managing finances. It goes without saying that having a lot makes you better than the average bear. Unfortunately, money and our emotions can have a very negative relationship.
Each of us has a clearly defined set of moral principles; a core list of the things we think matter most in life. People rarely stray from their main principles, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, incompatible values can ignite a tinderbox.
Financial infidelity, or keeping financial secrets from your partner, is frequently the result of having divergent perspectives on what is important, competing financial beliefs, and communication difficulties. When the truth is out, it can be just as upsetting to your partner’s feelings as committing genuine adultery.
In fact, a Dave Ramsey study found that the top relationship stressor and the second most common reason for divorce is “money arguments.”
Stop Fighting Over Money
It is rarely the math that couples are really arguing over. The most common dispute is how the other person is spending money. It is what money means to us emotionally.
So, pay attention to what is causing the bickering and sensibly come to a resolution without putting your marriage in jeopardy.
Differing Money Personalities
When two people come together in a relationship it does not mean they end up with the same money personalities. Some people are spenders, and other people are savers. Some people never even give managing finances a thought and like to live minimally while, yet others love to shop and find bargains. Everyone is different, and it is important to know how you’re different so that you can make allowances for the other person’s needs.
The Need for Control
Some of us have more controlling personalities than others. We like to oversee our financial futures and cannot even think of giving that over to someone else. If you are in a relationship where both people want to be in control of the finances but have different ideas of how that looks problems can ensue. Much worse is when your partner gets controlling about managing finances, or prevents you from making money of your own, this can be a sign of financial abuse.
Different Communication Styles
Sometimes it just comes down to how you communicate about managing finances. If it makes you emotional, you may seem defensive, and when one person is defensive, it can make the other person also get defensive. Thus, a conflict arises and continues due to misunderstandings.
Varied Money Histories
How your parents were about managing finances makes a big impact on what you think of money. If managing finances was a problem growing up between your parents, it could throw off your relationship with money in a way that causes problems in your relationship. Are you repeating what your parents did?
Keeping Secrets About Spending Habits
If one party is often secretive and even lies about how and where they spent money, it can make it hard to stick to a budget, which can end up causing problems eventually. If you or your spouse is being secretive about money, this is something that must be dealt with right away.
[Related Article: 5 Ways To Survive Tough Times]
Different Values Regarding Managing Finances
One person’s value is not always another’s. Each person values money differently. One person may love investing in online courses while the other likes to save money and spend on experiences.
Conflicting Spending Habits
You like to spend money on eating out, he likes to eat at home, mostly because you are cooking, and the two of you don’t see eye to eye about how to spend that money. It requires a discussion about household responsibilities, as well as how each of you feels so you can find a middle ground, where you both compromise.
Incompatible Saving Habits
If one of you is a good saver and the other cannot stick to the budget, this can mess up the savings plans and cause conflicts in the relationship. In this case, the saver needs to understand they cannot be miserly, but the spender needs to be more realistic and careful.
Income Earning Disparities
If one person earns substantially more than the other, it can be very difficult to get along, moneywise. One of the best solutions for this situation, if it is realistic in your circumstance, is to let each person pay for bills based on the percentage of total income they earn. It is very important that each person have some money allotted for their own spending needs, even if one person earns far less.
Conflicting Ideas About What’s Priority
One person likes to decorate the house with new things the other likes buying used ones. One likes to recycle the other does not. One likes to buy experiences the other would prefer to spend on their home. These problems can arise in any relationship resulting in fights over how you both are managing finances.
Stop Fighting Over Money
Let us end the fight over money before it starts! Couples can stop money fights by having a weekly money “date” to discuss finances and share their family financial histories. It is also important to be compassionate and patient toward your partner and to create positive associations in your money discussions.
To avoid these types of problems you might want to talk to a financial planner about the issues. There are also marriage counselors and marriage coaches who can help you deal with these issues in a manner that will make things better for both of you.
Excellent Reads on Managing Finances:
Have you read Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach
Purchase The Heart of Money: A Couples Guide to Creating True Financial Intimacy by Deborah Price
Another good read is First Comes Love, Then Comes Money: A Couples Guide to Financial Communication by Bethany and Scott Palmer.