Money and Marriage


July 05, 2016

Money and marriage

It is not news that disagreements over finances is one of the main reasons couples end up separated or in divorce court. And it's not because financial advice isn't readily available either, but married couples are still fighting over money for a variety of reasons and still couples appear to not want to hear the financial advice.

Life however has taught me that appearances can be deceiving. I have learnt from watching the very popular movie 'Titanic' that when looking at an iceberg, we only see the small portion that sticks out of the water. Actually the largest part of an iceberg, typically 80 to 90 per cent, remains unseen, hidden below the water's surface.

issue lurking

Financial conflict is like the tip of an iceberg. Many couples cite money problems as the reason for marital strife when the true source of their conflict is a larger issue lurking below the surface. In my years of working with couples in crisis, I've found that financial issues are usually a surface problem driven by deeper issues.

It's easy to mistake finances for the real issue if you argue about it on a regular basis. However, the fact that the same financial arguments happen over and over without being resolved indicates that the real problem is something deeper; and that "something deeper" is what I call a core issue. If core issues are not dealt with, surface issues like finances will keep popping up. It's kind of like trying to keep a balloon below the surface in a pool of water, you keep pushing it down, but it keeps coming back up. If you've tried to resolve arguments related to finances but they keep popping up, it may be time for you to look below the surface and work on the things you can control and that would be 'yourself'.

Are you afraid to face the truth? Are you afraid to talk about money for fear that your spouse will discover you made an unwise decision, spent money you shouldn't have, withdrew money from joint account or you didn't lodge the money you got to deposit. Dishonesty always reaps a negative outcome. If you make a significant financial decision without talking to your spouse, your actions will almost never be well received, especially with men.

What about communicating effectively? If you fail to communicate your thoughts, desires, and preferences, your spouse will be left to guess what they are. Guessing often leads to misunderstanding which can lead to hurt feelings and even resentment.

your emotions

If the only time you try to communicate about finances is when you're already upset or angry, your emotions will get in the way and the conservation will most likely lead to harsh exchanges of words and end up going nowhere.

It is important to talk about sensitive issues in a way that is comfortable for both of you. Be clear about what you need from the other person regarding spending, budgeting, help with balancing the check book and how to get out of financial holes likes loans, credit cards and mortgages. Don't begin your conversations in a negative tone and expect something positive to come out of it. That way you'll be able to discuss your financial issues without the extra burden of emotional baggage.

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