How to Discuss Money Problems in Marriage


Money problems in marriage are often the result of buried emotions. After all, the math behind money is pretty simple. A simple calculator will balance any budget. However, emotions are always part of the equation when it comes to financial behavior. This is especially true with money problems in marriage. When emotions are communicated and acknowledged in healthy ways, the path to financial wellness is cleared. Using the tips below, you and your spouse will learn how to discuss money problems in marriage so that you can finally work towards your goals.

Define the role money plays in your marriage. It's helpful for both partners to address this question. The way money is handled within a marriage is oftentimes a reaction, or symptom, of underlying issues. Is one spouse's overspending a reaction to an underlying problem, such as feelings of being controlled? Does one spouse overspend on gifts for the other? In the first situation, money serves as a weapon. In the second situation, money is tool for expressing love. Money can be used to supplement all sorts of emotions. What does the way you handle money reveal about your feelings about your marriage? What is your spouse revealing?

Acknowledge your emotions, and your spouse's emotions. Like it or not, you both are expressing these buried emotions through your handling of money. Being compassionate with yourself, as well as empathic with your spouse, is the first step to discussing money problems in marriage. Using the insight you gained from step 1, take care to not blame each other. Perhaps you do feel controlled by your spouse. While expressing this feeling, acknowledge that your spouse may in fact be feeling anxious over your financial actions, and is only trying to curb that anxiety. Accepting the cause and effect cycle of financial behavior without personal attacks will help you both be more responsible.

Nurture your emotions. As you have learned, money issues and marriage issues are often the same. Digest these revelations. What can you do to help your spouse feel less anxious? Or, if control issues are the problem, what can the controlling spouse do to offer more flexibility? Conversely, what can the controlled spouse do to ease the anxieties of the other? Keep these ideas specific and include your emotions. Saying "Give me more money to spend" will not be helpful. But, stating that $20 per week would make you feel more independent will help your spouse understand your perspective. Remember, respond to your spouse's needs as well.

Encourage equality. It doesn't matter who may be at fault for the money problems in marriage. It also doesn't matter who makes the most money. In fact, adopting anything other than an egalitarian stance in financial matters will only breed the negative emotions that stand in the way of financial health. Each person should have a say in financial decisions and both should share responsibility for the outcome of those decisions.

Prepare a budget. Now that negative emotions have been dealt with, you are now ready to crunch the numbers. It's okay for one person to do the legwork. However, both spouses must meet regularly to make budget decisions. Remember to deal with negative emotions as they come up. Be sure that each spouse is valued as an equal partner in the financial relationship. Finally, accept the numbers as what they are: simply numbers. By refusing to place your self worth on your money, you will be better able to make sound financial decisions.