It’s not a secret that money problems in a marriage are one of the top reasons couples get divorced. During the honeymoon stage, everything is fun – date nights, concerts, traveling, yadda yadda yadda. Why worry about money when you’re sharing these fun experiences with your significant other? Life is good. Then the honeymoon stage ends, and the day-to-day selves of you and your spouse are revealed. You will eventually get comfortable with each other, and the personality quirks you may have suppressed while dating will be revealed. Usually, these new attributes are annoying but tolerable. Sure he may leave the toilet seat up once in awhile, or use the bathroom as a throne room (not talking about anyone in particular here, of course!) but that’s not a deal breaker. After all, we all need our time and space. However, gradually learning that you and your spouse have very different spending and saving priorities can be truly difficult and lead to many arguments unless you talk it out and come to common ground.
The reality is that all of us need money to go through our daily lives. For those of you who are single, managing money for yourselves can be challenging enough. In a marriage, it can become more complicated because you and your spouse may have a different philosophy on money.
The following tips can help those in a serious relationship as well as those who are married. To avoid fighting over money with your significant other, these are the areas that should be addressed.
Understand and respect each other’s philosophy on money
You are either a saver or a spender. In my marriage, I prefer to save, and my wife prefers to spend. Let me clarify. My wife values having a rainy day fund and saving enough money for retirement and our son’s future education. However, she primarily views money as a mode of exchange, only as good as what she can get for it. She has no interest in watching money accumulate and takes no pleasure in amassing a certain quantity of money just to reach a numerical value. She dislikes budgeting and prefers budgets to be “flexible”. When we argue about spending versus saving, she tries to shut me up by saying, “I’ve worked hard for my money, I should be able to spend it however I want!” I agree to some extent, but keeping a strict budget is important too if we want our money to last through retirement. Plus, I genuinely enjoy working with money and seeing my funds grow irrespective of any future plans for spending. If you’re a saver and your spouse is a spender, then compromise and meet in the middle, although you may have to agree to disagree. Set up a budget so that funds can be allocated both of your needs and wants, but try not to attack your spouse’s money philosophy or convert him/her to your own mindset–that will likely be a futile and frustrating journey.
Believe it or not, my wife and I have separate bank accounts and we don’t have a joint checking account. We had separate accounts before we got married and just never merged them. At any point, I can look at her account and she can look at mine (Note: You could have a similar level of transparency with a shared account as long as you both have equal access). We are transparent with our spending. Although we have different philosophies on money, I trust her spending.
Communicate large purchases
Communication is the #1 factor in a successful relationship. We communicate with each other whenever we are purchasing anything above $100. Fortunately for us, we’re not into a lot of expensive things, but if we were, we would let each other know what we were itching to buy.
Don’t use money against each other
This is important if you make more money than your spouse or vice versa. Do not use your buying power against your significant other. Just because you make more money does not mean you’re better or your needs matter more. Holding your paycheck over your spouse’s head will belittle him/her and may cause your spouse to question his/her self-worth. A relationship is great when both parties have a mutual love and support for one another. It can be a nightmare when one person is using their money to manipulate or shame the other.
In my opinion, in a marriage, his wages and her wages are the family’s wages. Unless you want to surprise your significant other, withholding money from him/her can reduce the level of trust you have in each other. For me, even if my wife surprised me with a new laptop, I would still ask her what she paid for it, and run the numbers in my mind to see if she got a good deal. 🙂
I hope this helps a little. If I missed anything, please let me know in the comment section or on Facebook.