When it comes to relationship and marriage problems, money is at the top of the list, according to Dr. Phil. Financial strife is one of the leading causes of divorce. If one person in the relationship controls all of the finances and therefore the power, it can lead to resentment in the other partner. The best way to live with someone who has a different money style is to create financial strategies together.
Analyze your Money Story
Everyone has a money story based on an accumulation of life experiences around finances, writes financial advisor Brent Kessel, author of the book "It's Not About the Money." You and your husband might have different money stories. Consider your earliest experience with money. Was it that your parents didn't have enough to pay for gas, or that money was no object for your family? Write down the lessons you have learned from your parents about money and your attitude toward finances now, including how you want to use your resources. Think about your fears surrounding money as well. Ask your partner to do the same, and then share your money stories with each other. You might find out how his early experiences with money led him to value saving and security over spending.
Discuss Financial Goals
Continue your money story exercise by moving from past influences to future goals. Without consulting each other, individually write down your financial and life goals, says Olivia Mellan, author of the book “Money Harmony." The list should include your short-term goals for the next six months, mid-term goals for up to three years and long-term goals for over three years down the road. Then, compare your list with your partner’s list. This should be fun, says Mary Claire Allvine, coauthor of “The Seven Most Important Money Decisions You'll Ever Make." After all, you and your man are together because you have some of the same dreams and desires. Talk openly about the similarities and differences in your goals.
Level the Power Balance
If the man you live with makes more than you do, you may feel that he is a miser because you resent his power and control. Married couple Gina and Paul, when interviewed by Peggy Drexler of Forbes.com, said that Gina’s role as the breadwinner led to tension and resentment in their marriage. Gina finally figured out that it wasn’t because she made more that Paul resented her, but because she controlled the purse strings and criticized his spending while spending "her" money as she liked. Gina then decided that her attitude was “not a partnership”, and resolved to consider their finances as more of a joint endeavor. Talk to your partner about the balance of power in your relationship and brainstorm methods for working as a financial team.
Compromise on Spending
Eventually, if you’re both going to live together and share your financial lives, you will have to reach a compromise that suits both of you. When discussing your financial goals, plan how much you will put toward specific savings goals, such as towards retirement or a house. Plan how you will accommodate his need to save extra and still have room for personal spending and vacations. Couples have many ways of doing this, from merging everything into joint accounts, to keeping accounts separate (his and hers) or choosing a his-hers-ours approach. Once you have addressed your mutual goals and concerns, you won’t have to view him as the villain anymore.
- Dr. Phil: Advice: Financial and Marital Harmony
- Brent Kessel: It’s Not About the Money: A Financial Game Plan for Staying Safe, Sane, and Calm in Any Economy
- Redbook: 6 Smart Ways to Stop Money Stress in Your Marriage
- Forbes.com: Money And Marriage: Who's Earning It Vs. Who's In Charge Of Spending It
Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.