Fighting about money with your partner can destroy the relationship. I know two couples who split up over the stress of money just in the past three years. Since it’s always sad to see two people who were once in love decide to go their separate ways, I decided I would find out the cause of money fights as well as find some actionable solutions.
First of all, when I searched for money arguments and its relationship to divorce, I found that it is definitely one of the top causes of a marriage splitting up. (Depending on the source, it was cited as either the top reason or at least in the top three.)
Whether or not a couple fights about it—or it leads to divorce or separation—money in general causes a great deal of stress in most relationships. Usually, this comes in the form of feeling like there isn’t enough of it but, as I found in my research, there can be underlying issues going on.
With households and families breaking up everyday, I want to do what I can to help you (the reader) in your relationship so that any disagreements about money get resolved quickly and as painlessly as possible so that the two of you can blossom as a couple.
WHY YOU’RE FIGHTING (SOMETIMES IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY!)
Finding the reason why you’re fighting is the first step to resolving your differences. There are what I call abstract and concrete reasons why you’re fighting. Abstract reasons often manifest themselves in concrete actions, such as overspending.
Below are some abstract reasons and some concrete actions that may result from them:
Your personalities are different
Clashes in personalities can lead to quarrels about money. If you’re generally a carefree person and your spouse is much more reserved, this can play out in the money arena. The same holds true if one of you worries a lot in general and the other, not so much.
The worrier, of course, is much more likely to watch every penny while the carefree individual may overspend or at least feel constricted by their partner.
You came from very different backgrounds
Maybe your spouse was spoiled growing up but you came from a working class family where money was scarce. This would definitely have a role in how each of you view money today, as well as spending habits. Someone from a wealthy background may be more carefree with their money while someone from a working class family may be fiscally conservative.
You each have vastly different goals, hobbies or priorities
This is a tough one because, if this is happening, it may be that money is just part of a bigger issue. Having different goals in life that don’t mesh can mean you each want to spend money on different things.
For example, your spouse may want to buy a boat because they enjoy being out on the water but also because they view weekends as a time to relax whereas you may hate boating and see weekends as a time to catch up on cleaning and errands .
There’s a general lack of communication
Are you like two ships passing in the night? If you’re both so busy that you don’t have time to sit down and discuss finances, the lack of communication and planning can turn into arguments.
Or perhaps there’s simple avoidance: If you don’t talk about the money problems—or any other problems you may be facing—they’re not there, right?
There’s a financial imbalance in the relationship
If one of you earns a lot and the other earns little or nothing, there can be resentment from the primary breadwinner because he or she may feel stress from having the support the family. Likewise, if one person brought a lot of debt into the relationship.
There can also be a superior/inferior attitude when there is a financial imbalance. For example, if one person had a much higher net worth coming into the relationship, they may feel like they can dictate the whole relationship, leading the other person feeling like they’re being controlled.
Other negative feelings are brewing under the surface
Fights about money may actually stem from other issues that are going on. Maybe there’s a lack of trust or one of you if feeling ignored. Maybe you haven’t been connecting on a romantic level. Sometimes an argument about money isn’t about money at all.
What is it exactly that you’re each feeling? Is one of you feeling ignored? Unappreciated? Is there resentment because one partner spending way more (or earning way less) than the other? If you can’t verbalize it, try writing it out on paper. Ask yourself why you feel this way.
START FROM GROUND ZERO
First, it’s important to uncover the root of the problem. Did any of the explanations above hit a nerve? Hopefully by now, you have an idea of where some of your fights about money stem from. Once you have that in mind, you can proceed with the following steps:
Get your money snapshot
If it’s truly about the money, then you’ll want to identify your money hurdles first. (You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know the source of it.) In order to do this, you’ll have to sit down with your partner and go over your finances. Below are some questions for the two of you to answer. Asking these questions will give you a snapshot of your finances so you know where you’re starting from::
- What’s your income?
- What are your ongoing expenses?
- Do you have any debt? If so, what is the source of it?
- What do you have in savings?
- How is your money invested?
Identify the one or two biggest sources of your money issues
Once you have your financial snapshot, identify the one or two issues that are tripping you up from reaching your financial goals. Is it that you overall household income is low? Is your spending out of control? Do you not know what to invest your extra money in? Are you carrying too much debt?
Don’t try to tackle all aspects of your finances just yet. Focus on the top one or two issues that are causing you the most grief.
Once you’ve identified the one or two issues that are causing you the most money worries, you’ll have to educate yourselves on the best way to handle them. Reading this blog is a huge step to improving your finances and I hope both of you will read it together. (That’s because working as a team will give you the best chances of success!)
Most money problems have to do with these three areas: Not earning enough, spending too much and poor or lack of investments. This holds true whether the money worries are personal or you share them with your partner. Because of this, I write articles primarily on improving your income, reducing your spending and paying off debt so that you can invest and grow you money.
SOLUTIONS TO SPECIFIC MONEY ISSUES
You’re not bringing in enough money
Sometimes fighting about money is just a simple case of not enough income coming in. I write a lot on this blog on how you can solve this problem. One of the best ways to boost your income significantly is to become an expert in the field of your choice and start a business.
To help you and your spouse get started on this path, try reading the following post:
You’re spending too much and saving too little
This is one of the most money common problems in a marriage. Is one person a saver and the other a spender? You may need to set up separate bank accounts.
I did this with my ex-boyfriend. At the time, he made a lot more money than I did but was also a lot more frugal. To prevent fights, we had one joint account that was used to pay bills, including any unexpected bills that arose such as medical. Then we each had our own, separate accounts for discretionary spending. That way, I could buy a new outfit or he could buy the latest electronic gadget without the other person’s permission. This set up worked very well for us. (We may have broken up years later but it wasn’t over money!)
Getting spending under control is one of the best ways to create wealth. It’s imperative that if one or both of you is overspending, that you realize the impact it’s having on your financial future. I urge you read one or both of the articles below if overspending is the main problem:
You don’t know what to invest in to secure your financial future
Investing in dividend stocks is one of the best ways to grow your money. And if you choose the right type of companies to buy stock in, it comes with little risk. If you’re not sure how to choose which company to buy shares in, try reading this article for beginner’s:
You’re carrying too much debt
Debt can kill a relationship almost as fast as an affair. The stress and strain it causes can be almost unbearable.
A lot of debt is causes by overspending. I wrote an article on how to get debt and which types of debt can be okay in the following article:
All you ever do or talk about is “adult” stuff like work and paying bills
Let’s face it: Life can be really boring sometimes. Maybe you and your partner have your finances under control (for the most part) but your relationship has become a bore. Perhaps the two of you have just lost your way in life and you’ve forgotten how to have fun together. You’re too busy working, paying bills, running errands, cleaning and more. This can still turn into fights about money because, hey, starting an argument is more interesting than the status quo.
If you feel like life has become one boring, pain-in-the-butt to-do list, then try sprinkling your life with some good old fashioned fun. I wrote the article below on just that:
TOGETHER, YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Keeping your finances on track is a team effort. Hopefully, both of you are up to managing your finances together because the fights may continue otherwise.
Make a Plan (Together)
Once you’ve identified your biggest money issues and read up on solutions, the next step is to figure out a lifestyle plan. Having a lifestyle plan is better than a budget because it incorporates your hopes, dreams and wants for the future into the equation. I talk about the importance of having a lifestyle plan in this post:
Respect and Reach Out to One Another
It’s important to make a pact to talk out any money concerns and be determined to come up with a mutual solution. I may not be a therapist, but I think it’s safe to say that yelling is never the right option.
You both might need to change your viewpoint: Understanding that your partner came from a different background or doesn’t have the exact same personality as you can go a long way. Remember, we are all unique because no two people are exactly alike! Embracing your differences, and giving each other the same respect you would give a close friend, can do wonders. You’re in this together—and that can be a good thing!
If all else fails, seek outside council
This can be in the form of a therapist, financial adviser or other type of unbiased mediator. Getting a third party involved who doesn’t have an emotional investment in your relationship with your spouse can give you both a more objective opinion.
A therapist may uncover some deeper issues that may actually be the root of your disagreements—or help teach you to communicate better, while a financial adviser can give you a plan for the future that you both can respect and follow. If things have become really bad, you may want to seek out both professionals. (As always, look for people who have a good reputation and qualifications before signing up.)
CHOOSE YOUR RELATIONSHIP OVER “STUFF”
It’s easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives why we chose the person we did and to keep the communication and romance alive. On top of this, we’re fighting against the constant barrage from retailers and big corporations who want our money. They don’t care if your marriage splits up over lack of money or even if you have the money to feed yourselves.
You have to choose to make your relationship more important than the “stuff.” Is that new watch, dress, boat, or even big house worth losing your life partner over? If you have kids, your whole family could split up. Are you each trying to fill the void with things? I talk more about this in my article Divorce and Dollars: How Overspending Can Destroy a Marriage.
I’m a big proponent of downsizing and keeping life simple. I would rather focus on the people I love and having great experiences then turning my place into a “museum” of stuff that I’ve bought. I hope you, too, will take the time to reconnect, slow down, down-size and make the loved ones in your life a priority:)
Are arguments about money affecting your relationship? What action are you taking to improve your situation? I would love to hear from you! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. Au revoir, namaste and until next time!