What to Do When Your Spouse’s Personal Finance Habits Don’t Align With Yours

Believe it or not, money problems are one of the major causes of divorce in the United States. If you and your spouse can find a way to agree on personal finance issues like spending, budgeting, and saving, you have a better chance of being happy.

How to Find Common Ground With Your Spouse

When you look at marital strife in the U.S., three issues account for 93 percent of all divorces. The leading cause is basic incompatibility (43 percent), with infidelity coming in second (28 percent). Money issues are the third leading cause (22 percent) and continue to become more prevalent over time.

According to a separate survey conducted by SunTrust Bank, finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship. Roughly 35 percent of respondents experiencing stress cited money as the primary cause of the friction. Of those in the 44 to 54 age group, 44 percent pointed to finances as the primary cause.

In other words, your personal finance problems aren’t unique to your marriage. You’re dealing with some of the same things as your peers, but that doesn’t mean the conflict has to lead to divorce. Finding common ground will allow you to smooth things over and establish a solid foundation for future growth.

  1. Get to Know Each Other

While some people fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, most people can be classified as either spenders or savers. You probably already know which side your spouse falls on, but it’s important that you understand the underlying “why.”

When you and your spouse understand why you are spenders or savers, you’ll be able to address some of the issues that lead to specific actions. As a result, you can deal with over-the-top behaviors before they permanently damage the relationship.

  1. Have a Monthly Budget Meeting

It’s not enough to vaguely discuss money once or twice a year. If you and your spouse really want to remain on the same page, you need to have a monthly budget meeting where you sit down and discuss spending, saving, short-term goals, long-term goals, and any recent developments that may have an impact on these things. The meeting doesn’t have to be long and serious, but it does need to happen.

  1. Seek Outside Help

Sometimes personal finance issues can’t be dealt with privately. You each have your own issues and it’s not always easy to see your own flaws until someone else exposes them. If money issues are becoming highly problematic in your marriage, you may require couples therapy or counseling to establish some groundwork around which you can develop a plan for managing money in your relationship.

  1. Never Keep Secrets

According to a survey from CreditCards.com, more than 6 million U.S. consumers have concealed financial accounts – such as a checking account or credit card – from their spouses or partners. Almost 20 percent of people have secretly spent $500 or more without saying anything.

Whatever you do, don’t keep secrets. Not only is it highly probable that your secret will be discovered, but it also hurts transparency and makes it impossible to get on the same page with your spouse.

Don’t Let Money Issues Fester

Friction is going to exist in every marriage. In most cases, it’s not the friction that causes marital strife, but rather the lack of attention given to the friction. When it comes to money issues, you can’t let problems fester beneath the surface until they boil over. The earlier you deal with them, the better you can find common ground and build a healthy marriage.

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