Marriage is arguably the biggest challenge in people’s lives. With the responsibility of raising your kids and maintaining your career, the last thing you want to do is fighting with your spouse about unpleasant money matters.
Finances are consistently fingered as the # 1 cause of friction in married relationships. We all know that, right? But here’s the kicker. Problems aren’t caused by lack of money so much as lack of respectful communication about money.
It’s a fact that couples with fat savings accounts still fight about money. At the same time, many people on the poverty line manage to struggle through without the stress ruining their marriage. The key factors are communication and respect.
You have the opportunity to be a leader in your home in terms of love. Love means communication, and love means respect. And love is the only appropriate context to initiate a conversation about finances.
It’s not easy to avoid fighting about money. But learning how to communicate with love and respect may well save your home, your future and your relationship. Try these 10 ideas to get started.
- Get on the same page: Develop a family “vision”, “plan”, or “mission statement.” If you know where you’re going, then you’re more likely to agree.
- Make decisions together, not unilaterally: Many money fights emerge from lack of shared information. Sit down and talk about the budget so you both own the process.
- Own responsibility for budget gaffes: Make sure you’re the first and most frequent money-spender to say “mea culpa” (my bad). Set the example. Besides, the only person you can change is yourself. Once you do, the balance shifts and change is easier across the board.
- Work out a detailed budget, together: “The devil is in the details.” Few people fight about the mortgage, their car payment, or the electric bill. It’s the $11.29 at Starbucks last week. The $23.46 for the impromptu lunch. The $18 to get my nails done…
- Never “finger-point”: If you make your wife defensive, then you’ve already sabotaged the process. The name of the game is solutions, not blame.
- Eliminate all financial secrets: Here’s the rule: If you don’t want to tell your wife about the expense, then it’s something you don’t need to buy. Same goes for her. That’s why the process must be open and honest. Period.
- Commit more of your funds to charity: Generosity tends to put things in perspective. “Let’s give more to charity this year,” is an open invitation to cost-cutting elsewhere. Cost-cutting elsewhere tends to address problem areas first.
- Attend a budget management class together: In most marriages, the sum of a couple’s combined financial know-how is equivalent to less than half of what one person needs to know. Take a class. A great place to start is Financial Peace University.
- Initiate an “all purchases over $25 dollars require agreement” rule: Then, as soon as possible, make sure you’re the first one needing the nod from your spouse. See something you want impulsively? Get the go-ahead from your wife… or back away if she sounds cautious. Either way, you’ve demonstrated respect and commitment to the shared budgeting ideal.
- Don’t fight anymore! No, seriously. Sometimes this can be one of those “duh” things. Why don’t you want to fight? Because it’s counter-productive and then you both feel bad – right? So don’t do it. Make the decision to use other interventions. If it doesn’t work, don’t go there! Duh.
All marriages go through their unique trials and tribulations. At times, you may feel that divorce is the only possible solution. The Men’s Divorce Law Firm believes that maintaining a marriage and solving problems within that marriage takes an enormous amount of patience, hard work and skill. It’s never too late to learn the relationship skills needed to sustain a happy and lasting marriage. A marriage counselor can teach you those skills while monitoring your progress, mediating conflict and giving objective feedback. If you are thinking about a way out of your nuptials, protect yourself from future regret by working through the issues with your spouse and a trained third party. A counselor can not only help you come to terms with whether or not to divorce but can also teach you the skills needed in any future relationships should you decide to leave the marriage.
The Men’s Divorce Law Firm has cultivated lasting and trusting relationships with many local counselors that are both highly educated and vastly experienced in all aspects of couples’ therapy. Contact us today to discuss your unique situation so that we may recommend a counselor most suitable for you and your partner’s specific needs.