Among the top contenders for a rocky marriage and the cause of divorce is money.
Whilst money is rarely the only reason a couple may divorce, stressing over finances often seeps into all other aspects of life and it can drastically change the dynamics of even the happiest marriage.
Talking about money problems is not something many of us are comfortable with. In fact money is often more taboo in social circles than sex, politics and religion.
No wonder we struggle communicating with family and loved ones with it and it cause such problems. Being able to communicate about money is vital if you’re going to manage to navigate the opportunities and challenges that money may bring to the surface during your relationship.
- You have differing values.
Conflict may surface when you have differing values or place importance on different things to your spouse. Money often represents Success, Security or Freedom and we tend to have one dominant value out of these three. As the saying goes “opposites attract” and the same is often true when it comes to money personalities and money values. It’s not uncommon to have one partner who values security and is a good saver, and another who values success or freedom and is a spender. Or one who is more focussed on financial success over freedom or security. No value is better than the other, but it’s important to acknowledge your own and your partners.
- One or Both of you have money secrets
Secrets (money or other) often lead to arguments and can cause big problems in any relationship. Financial Infidelity is a thing – more common than you may expect. A study by American online company creditcards.com published January 2018 found that 23 per cent (yes almost a quarter of Americans) said that they had kept money hidden from their partners, had a secret bank account or credit card.
When one spouse is making significant financial decisions or taking on credit, or spending without the knowledge of the other, it can seriously impact the financial future of both people, not to mention undermine the trust.
- There is an imbalance in control
Who has control over finances, particularly when one partner is the breadwinner, or main income provider can be a serious cause of conflict. Money can often be used as a form of control, and financial abuse is a very common (one in six women in Australia have been a victim of financial abuse) but not often spoken about form of Domestic Violence.
Managing money in any relationship should be a team effort and joint responsibility and control should be shared equally.
- You’re trying to manage an unstable or irregular income
Making it through financial ups and downs can be really difficult for some couples. When money is tight it can be very stressful to make ends meet and stick to budget. One of the biggest causes of money stress is being able to manage the emotions that are attached to money. Fear, stress, guilt, shame, greed, envy, jealousy, remorse are all common money emotions, which can cause havoc in any relationship. Being able to communicate with your partner through all financial situations is important for a strong marriage.
- You don’t have a handle on your debt
We all view debt differently. Some are comfortable buying things on credit, while for others it makes them very uncomfortable. The way you think about and how you manage debt can result in strain on a marriage. If you can talk about debt with your spouse and agree on the best use and management of it in your relationship, you’re more likely to succeed in a marriage.
While money is rarely the only contributing factor in a divorce it can certainly create stress and amplify disagreements. The ability to be open and honest about money and to communicate effectively when it comes to your finances, can lead to a more open and honest relationship all around.
Taking the time to understand your own, and your partner financial beliefs, values, goals and fears around money can not only strengthen your relationship and bring you closer together, but may make your goals more achievable and even save your marriage!