Marriage is a wonderful institution that can yield tremendous benefits for those who commit to it. But marriage is not easy. It takes hard work to integrate your life with another person; to become one, especially in the area of money. Fighting over money is a big frustration for couples, and sadly, the cause of many divorces.
Why do couples fight over money?
We’re all unique in our own way and want to maintain a certain level of independence. Believe it or not, this is a good thing, even in marriage. Individuality doesn’t end when marriage begins. In fact, it’s the different and opposite traits to our own that attract us to our mates. And, it’s those differences when harnessed and used in cooperation that make it possible for a marriage to succeed.
Managing money successfully in marriage is about communication and cooperation. If one partner creates the plan and controls how money is spent without the input of the other, resentment, lack of cooperation, and money fights will be the result. Any action that dismisses individual contribution and violates independence and individual choice will cause conflict.
2. Differing Values
Men and women tend to value different things and their spending choices reflect this. For example, I like spending money on books, electronics, cars, and tools. My wife, Natalie, likes to spend on manicures and pedicures, household goods and decorations, and clothes. I don’t value the things she spends money on and she doesn’t value the things I spend money on.
Spending based on individual values can be a source of conflict in marriage, especially when money is tight. Money fights happen when we judge the financial choices of our spouse as being wasteful [not of value], yet see our own spending as valuable. To solve this, make sure your budget allows a monthly reasonable amount for spending on what each of you values.
3. Financial Insecurity
A major reason for couples fighting over money is rooted in financial insecurity. Men and women have an instinctive need for financial security, which means having peace of mind and a lack of worry over money. When circumstances within or outside of your control impact your finances negatively, worry and anxiety can lead to conflict.
Any feelings of financial insecurity caused by circumstances out of your control can be resolved through open communication. It’s no one’s fault. Coming together and talking things through will allow you to express your fears and worries. More importantly, the discussion will naturally lead to encouraging each other and finding a solution, something you can do together.
Unfortunately, financial insecurity is self-inflicted. It can be caused by one spouse making the wrong financial decision without the involvement or approval of the other. This I find is the most common reason for financial conflicts.
It’s better to make a wrong decision together than to make the right one apart. Unity in marriage is vital! Knowing that your financial decisions can make your spouse feel secure or insecure should convince you to always involve them in all major decisions.
4. Unrealized Goals and Dreams
Every couple starts out with a vision of what they want their life to be. They have dreams and goals of the future, which they hope to achieve. Finances play an important part in providing couples the life they want. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful life has a way of taking over, allowing the urgent to take priority over the important.
A lack of planning means financial decisions are made emotionally and impulsively. Before they realize it, a couple is living paycheck to paycheck just trying to keep up with the payments. Stress builds and fights ensue because every added financial challenge is another reminder that the life they envisioned is slipping further away.
Fighting over money need not be a part of your marriage. To experience happiness and peace in your finances you don’t have to forsake your independence, give up the things you value, live without financial security, and forget your dreams. Instead, let these very things motivate you work together and make the necessary changes to achieve the life you want.
You can have a conflict-free financial life with your spouse. Start by creating a plan. Set some clear and specific financial goals together. Then take consistent actions to move you toward your goals.