Don’t Let Money Destroy Your Happily Ever After
Arguing about money in marriage is common. Forbes published a study conducted by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysis citing financial stress is the third leading cause of divorces. This statistic is definitely alarming but financial strain doesn’t need to destroy your relationship. In fact, you can avoid conflict over money by having a few simple (ongoing) conversations.
I’ll never forget when my husband came home with a large bouquet of roses. It wasn’t our anniversary or a special occasion, it was one of those “just because” moments. It was so sweet and unexpected that I normally would have swooned over that moment. However, we had just accumulated some larger bills and were living paycheck to paycheck. I was furious! The $60 he spent on that bouquet of flowers had already been budgeted for gas that week and his thoughtfulness quickly turned into an hour long argument about his thoughtlessness.
Although it wasn’t my proudest moment, our argument taught me an important lesson: open communication is key to mastering finances as a team. What are you supposed to talk about? Check out my list below.
The top four things you and your spouse need to discuss to avoid conflict over money:
The Horrid Budget:
Most people would rather do a lot of other things besides tracking every penny they spend and creating a budget. What’s the fun in that? However, you’ll likely notice that if you create a budget and stick to it, you’ll enjoy the things you do splurge on more because they are planned and you’ll have less anxiety about potentially overspending or arguing about it. It is crucial that all expenses including bills and miscellaneous expenditures are calculated as well as leaving some margin for unplanned situations. A budget is a roadmap that provides some structure and expectations so couples know what is okay for them to spend without resulting in bills not getting paid or them sleeping on the couch for the night. It is also great for helping couples dream about their future and plan goals to make it happen.
Yes, I’m serious and yes, I’m aware you guys are not children. Although it may sound silly having some spending money set aside for each spouse allows for some self-care spending. Maybe they had a rough morning and wanted to splurge on a $5 Starbucks coffee? Maybe they wanted to go a relaxing mani/pedi or a round of golf with the guys to unwind. Having allotted spending money allows you some freedom to choose what you want to do with it rather than having to account for each coffee or pair of shoes you just had to have. Go for it! It’s already a part of your budget! It also comes in handy if you want to surprise your spouse with a night out or a gift “just because.”
Honesty is the backbone of trust within a relationship. Many couples will often avoid talking about items that they purchased so as not to start an argument. A Time survey indicated that 6% of couples hide a financial account and 35% state it’s to avoid conflict. Talking to your spouse about all the financial responsibilities and goals will encourage trust and communication but will also position you as a team working toward the same financial goals.
We all need things to work toward. What do you and your spouse want to achieve? Goals such as a good retirement plan, house purchase, vacations, planning for children or school. It is important that both spouses sit down and discuss what these goals are so you both can be striving for the same things. When you know you are working as a team, you know there is accountability. This also allows you to take pride in doing your part. Every so often, sit down and reevaluate your goals – it will also be motivating and rewarding as you make progress towards some of them.
Financial stress can be very damaging to a relationship. If you are struggling, it’s important to contact a professional to help you devise a plan. I highly recommend Dave Ramsey and his team of experts, he’s helped hundreds of thousands of people get out of debt.
What have you and your spouse done to minimize stress around finances?