How to fight with your spouse about money
Disputes don't have to become relationship wedges.
This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.
been said that money is the No. 1 cause of divorce. Or to say it
another way: Marriage is about love, divorce is about money.
that we may add that money is the No. 1 cause of turmoil in a marriage.
Strife over money can last years in a marriage if not properly
addressed and, short of divorce, can drive a wedge between a husband
and wife. This doesn't have to be, and so here are eight tips on
fighting with your spouse over money.
Honestly examine your own attitudes about money.
We all have different views and attitudes about money -- how it should
be spent, saved, given and so on. Before raising a difficult money
issue with your spouse, honestly re-examine your approach and feelings
about the issue. You may just find that you need to change as much as
or more than your spouse. And if not, it will better prepare you for an
open-minded discussion when you do raise the issue.
Make sure you've identified the real issue.
Is the problem that your spouse just bought a $20,000 bass boat, or is
it really that he or she will be spending more time on the lake than
with the family (or both)? Sometimes our feelings can play tricks on
us, so it's important to make sure we know exactly what the problem is
before trying to solve it. This process may take some time, so it may
be days or even weeks before you raise the issue.
Consider the place and time of the money discussion.
Money is a sensitive topic. Raising a difficult money issue as soon as
your spouse walks in the door after a long day's work or immediately
after dealing with the kids is counterproductive. Raising the issue
while the in-laws are in town is not a productive approach either. If
life is really crazy, agree in advance when you will sit down to
discuss the money matter. Otherwise, try to pick a moment when there
are no distractions and you have the time to give the matter the
attention it deserves.
Be honest with your spouse. If,
after examining your thoughts and feelings on the matter, you conclude
that there is a serious money issue, keeping it bottled up inside will
do you and your marriage no favors. Discussions about how to handle
money are an important part of the relationship. Such conversations may
not always be pleasant, but the alternative is often a life of "quiet
Listen to your spouse. Approaching these
discussions with an open mind and a desire to fully understand your
spouse's perspective is critical and sometimes difficult. You've given
the issue a lot of thought and are convinced that your spouse's
approach to the money issue is not in your family's best interest. This
makes it difficult to hear why the $20,000 bass boat was a good deal.
And it gets even harder to listen if the bass boat is just one of many
questionable purchases. Nevertheless, hearing what your spouse has to
say is as important as he or she hearing you. In the words of Stephen
Covey in "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," "seek first to understand ... then to be understood."
Seek compromise when possible.
Many decisions about money appear, at first, to be all or nothing.
Either buy the new car, or don't. Either remodel the kitchen, or don't.
Either go on an expensive vacation, or don't. With some creative
brainstorming, however, you just might find common ground through
compromise. It may not be the alternative you were hoping for, but
marriage is a lifelong series of give and take. So where it makes
sense, seek compromise as a means to resolve the money issue. My wife
and I did this with the purchase of our home four years ago. I did not
want to offer the list price (which was then the only way we would get
the home), but agreed to do so because of my wife's willingness to make
up the difference through some other financial choices she didn't
See the long term. Over the course of many years,
our views about money change. I know that my views and attitudes about
money have changed dramatically in the last 20 years. The point is, it
may take years for you and your spouse to align your views about money,
and even then it likely won't be a perfect alignment. Rome wasn't
conquered in a day, and most serious money issues aren't either.
Sometimes money issues become very serious. And the failure to
communicate about these issues can indicate even more serious issues
within a marriage. My point here is not to set off alarm bells if you
and your spouse disagree over whether you should take your lunch to
work or eat out. The point is, sometimes marriages need some
professional help to get through a tough issue, and that issue might
just be about money.
Other articles of interest from The Dough Roller:
- How to know instantly you're being conned
- How Warren Buffett would calculate your intrinsic value (and how you should, too)
- Employee stock options: You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
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