Taking a Closer Look: Your Fights Probably Aren’t Just About Money

Some couples may struggle to pay the bills, while others may have no apparent financial problems whatsoever. Many fall somewhere in between. Yet, no matter what you’re earning, you’re likely to experience some money-related issues at one point or another in your marriage. Money continues to be one of the most prevalent perpetual problems I see in my couples when they come in.

As it turns out, the issue probably isn’t about money itself at all.

Our views on money can be very personal, and are often tied with emotions that run very deep. Some children have to work hard for an allowance growing up and are never “handed” anything, while others are showered with gifts. Regardless of where on the spectrum we lie, our experiences with money, both in childhood and beyond, largely shape our spending habits and beliefs on how money should be handled.

Issues with money can also come into play when one person feels as if contributions to the marriage are out of balance. It’s important to remember that there’s almost always bound to be a discrepancy between what partners make. In some marriages one individual may not be employed at all, but will take on many household and day-to-day duties to keep everything running smoothly.  However sometimes this arrangement is not discussed and agreed upon, and there can be resentment built up about the income discrepancy.

The Bottom Line

To support healthy communication around money, you must first identify the different perspectives each of you brings to the relationship. From there, you can come together and set realistic expectations that satisfy both parties. Finally, you can set a budget that promotes saving while also perhaps leaving some wiggle room for entertainment and other non-obligatory expenses.

If there are any recurring arguments you have surrounding costs, spending habits, or another money-related issue, make a point to get to the root of the problem. For example, if one person shops frequently but the other feels like they have very little spending cash, you might work towards a resolution in which both people are able to enjoy some things for themselves, within reason. Reaching that point may require some fine-tuning, but establishing and then following a budget will help you get there.

It’s also a good idea to consider setting up agreements for spending. Many couples promise not to make any big purchases without first telling their partner. Also, if there’s a big upcoming purchase on the horizon, it’s always possible to revisit your budget to start saving early in advance.

If you’re having money-related issues and need an objective third party to help work through them, enlist the professional guidance of Chuck Beardsley, LCSW. At his Mountainside, NJ office, Chuck helps couples overcome their differences in a constructive way to strengthen their relationships for the long term. Make an appointment here or call (908) 264-5336 to inquire about a specific time.