Many couples blame their marriage problems on disagreements and an inability to see eye to eye. Marriage counseling is a great option for couples who need to learn how to better communicate. However, it might not solve the problem that caused a disagreement in the first place. This is especially possible if the problem involves money. Because money is a leading cause of stress in relationships, couples may want to start by having candid conversations about money.
Nearly three-quarters of all Americans experience some kind of financial stress, according to the American Psychological Association. When you are in a relationship with a partner who has different views or values about money, this stress can become further exacerbated.
So, how do you know if your problems are money related? It is not always obvious but, here are some common signs:
1. In your marriage, one partner handles the money, while the other wants nothing to do with it.
When it comes to managing the finances in your marriage, both partners should participate, or at least be aware of where money is being spent. In many cases, one partner manages the finances and the other never looks into what he or she is doing. As a society, we used to view men as being responsible for a couple’s finances, but this is no longer the case. Both partners should have a role in managing money.
2. You have different values about spending and saving.
Just like religion and politics, it’s important for couples to have similar values when it comes to money. This is something that’s often overlooked in the early stages of a relationship. However, it tends to surface and cause tension later on. Before getting serious, it’s important for couples to talk in detail about what kinds of budgets and savings they have. These conversations are sometimes uncomfortable, so many people avoid them. It is also a good idea to talk about how your families handled finances when you were growing up. Because, more often than not, as people age and start taking more responsibility for their finances, they start doing things just like their families did.
3. You have different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Having a different socioeconomic background than your spouse can cause more issues than you might think, because you’re likely used to handling and thinking about money differently. For example, someone from a wealthier background might not be used to worrying about money, while someone who grew up in a lower-income household might be more accustomed to saving, or might carry some debt. Money is power, especially in relationships. While it’s not necessary to date within your own socioeconomic status, it is important to have open and honest conversations about how you view money.
4. You have different views on debt.
You should always be honest with your partner about how much debt you have. Especially if one or both of you has large-scale debt, you need to be on the same page about how to manage it and eventually pay it back. However, it’s also important to be on the same page with how much debt you’re comfortable accumulating. Some are just naturally more tolerable of debt than others. Again, it is important to have clear conversations with each other on how you will handle these things as you go through life together.
So, how can couples with money issues get back on track? First of all, communication. Communication is absolutely crucial in many areas of life. This is no exception. If there are bigger issues, a financial advisor can help. More specifically, it sometimes takes a third point of view to resolve issues in a relationship. A good financial advisor can help you achieve that balance in your bank account and in your personal life.