Money is a divisive topic in the world of marriage. How does money affect relationships?
It’s not something many couples choose to openly discuss, and it definitely affects every aspect of their relationship. There are disagreements over how money is spent, who has control, and even what’s really important in life.
While money can be an issue for any couple who needs to talk about it, the truth remains — discussions never hurt but they always help!
Money can be a source of conflict in marriage.
The impact of money relates to how partners treat one another. Whether it’s about the lack of trust, the imbalance in spending, or the dynamics of control over finances, money can be a real issue.
You’d expect that money would be an easier topic to talk about since it’s a tangible concept compared to other emotional issues. But couples often find these topics painful and difficult to discuss — even women may see their issues related to ego and self-worth as relating more closely to money than they realize (just ask yourself “how much is this all worth?”)
But any discussion is better than nothing. Every discussion helps couples understand themselves better.
The starting point is to understand your spouses perspective on money. This is often called, your money personality.
1. What Is A ‘Money Personality’?
A money personality is a combination of the way people spend, save and prioritize their finances.
When it comes to marriage, your money personality (or money type) is a couple’s personal money philosophy is.
The first step in improving your finances and understanding your spouse’s perspective on money is knowing what type of person you are with regards to money.
Money personalities are usually divided into two categories: savers and spenders.
While there is much more to it than this, it’s as good place to start. Determining (and understanding) how you and your spouse spend and save is key to financial success.
A ‘Saver‘ is one who has the tendency to accumulate more rather than do things with it. It gets ‘stored’.
A ‘Spender‘ is someone who uses more than you save. They spend before saving even a penny!
Money affects every part of one’s life. Money has a profound impact on marital harmony.
Depending on how one’s money personality interacts with their spouse, money questions can create discord in most marriages.
Whether you are a spender or a saver, the goal should be to create financial security for your family. So seek ways to relieve financial stress.
2. Who Has Control Over the Money?
Another issue affecting how couples relate to one another over finances is who controls the money? Who ultimately makes the financial decisions?
Usually, the person with control over the money is the spouse who has a better handle of finances. How that affects communication within a partnership is as varied as there are couples.
Some couples delegate this responsibility to one of their spouses, while others maintain control on both accounts, regardless of ability or proficiency.
I know couples who designate one partner to handle all the finances. That person pays the bills, manages the budget, keeps track of expenses, etc.
It works for these couples becasue they trust their spouse. And they reveiw their finances on a regular basis.
I know other couples who keep separate accounts. They each have an expense account with their ‘hobby money’ and ‘play money’ in it. They both contribute to a main account where the bills are paid, but they maintain their own account and can spend that money any way they see fit.
It works for them because they have enough income that it doesn’t stretch them too much.
My point it, every couple is different. While there are money principles that every couple should practice, WHO manages the money, and HOW it is handled is a personal matter.
One thing to keep in mind: How you spend your money sets your priorities, and those priorities often point to what you believe about marriage and family life.
3. The Cost of Arguments
Money is a fundamental aspect of marriage and the family. Without good money management, it can be difficult to have healthy relationships. Arguing over money is an issue that crosses many couples in regards to their finances and can become costly when there are children involved.
A Harris Poll study conducted in 2014 reveals 72% of Americans feel stress about money during the month. 22% said they felt ‘extreme stress’ over finances.
The average reported stress level was 4.9 (out of 10). Remember, that’s the average. Many are on the upper end of the scale.
In order for a marriage to be successful, both partners must be able to discuss financial issues openly with one another and feel comfortable asking for help when needed. That’s where understanding your spouse’s perspective on money matters comes into play as a strong foundation in establishing healthy dialogue around finance.
The importance of partners being able to talk about finances nondirectly, without fighting or blaming each other is crucial not just for the well-being of their relationship but also for example during these points when a financial disagreement occurs. These are when you will want to be able to have the conversation, so you can get out of it as soon as possible and move on to the next steps with your life and finances.
For some couples, money is an emotional topic due to their own experiences. Arguing about finances can quickly become a vicious cycle. But it’s important to remember that money is always about changing your priorities.
When you get upset, it’s normal to go into your partner’s personal habits as well to try and figure out why they are behaving in a certain way.
It’s more important to understand why you do what you do and how to change the habit when necessary rather than blaming your partner.
For example, a woman might have been raised by parents who ran up large debts which caused her great anxiety over finances.
She has a hard time understanding why her husband doesn’t pay attention to the balance in their account.
They argue about it all the time and he’s been considering taking over responsibility of the family finances, even though he isn’t savvy when it comes to money.
Recognizing your individual financial motivations is important in understanding your personal money personality.
4. The Importance of Trust
Trust is a crucial aspect in one’s life. When it comes to marriage and family life, trust becomes even more important because the two individuals relying on each other financially are constantly in close contact with each other within their personal lives as well as outside of them: Happiness and overall well-being relies on the healthiness of this relationship.
In order for a marriage or family unit to live a healthy, happy life, trust is needed. The safety that one feels from knowing his or her partner will keep the commitments they have made will relieve much of the stress and anxiety over money.
In order to build trust in a relationship between two spouses, they must be able to communicate openly with one another about their finances.
It is only through this action (and many others) that families and marriages become healthy. Without communication, partners feel guilty for not disclosing certain financial information or for not trusting their significant other with all details of their money matters—and this can become dangerous to the family as a whole!
The key to building trust is recognize selfish behavior, and do things that help your spouse feel safe, secure, and validated.
Also Read: The Marriage Wheel
5. Making Peace Together
Similar spending habits between you and your partner are wonderful. However, your actual spending habits are likely very different. It is still possible to get on the same page if you both are willing to be open and honest about both your good and bad spending habits.
Creating peace and harmony in your home should be a high priority. In order to make sure your relationship remains peaceful over finances, you should be open and honest with your spouse (or spouses!) about this issue.
When talking about money, you want to remember that this is a big part of your union. You also need to have the perspective that no matter how much money you make or how little you make, it is all about creating a sense of security for the family unit as a whole.
Once you can define the hard facts about your financial situation, it becomes easier to talk about where more money needs to be made.
Setting boundaries for what the money can and can’t buy is also very important, because one or both partners may have been raised in a financially unstable household.
Related Questions On Money and Marriage
Since money issues are the source of a lot of conflict in marriage, it’s important to lay a good foundation to establish good financial habits.
Here are related financial questions we get from readers:
Can you keep finances separate when married?
The simple answer is yes. It works for many couples.
The longer answer is, does it fit your marriage goals, and create peace? Or does it breed more insecurity.
If keeping your finances separate causes you to keep secrets from your spouse, it is not a good idea. Financial infidelity will wreck your relationship and destroy trust.
Remember, the foundation of a healthy marriage is trust.
We gave two examples above about how couples manage their finances. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ method. There are principles you need to follow, but there are many methods to carry out those principles.
How to deal with debt in marriage?
Eliminate it. As soon as possible. Living beyond your means causes high stress levels for your relationship.
Appying a few basic tips can help you get control of your money.
- Live on a budget
- Don’t spend more than you make
- Know where your money goes
- Track expenses
- Talk about money often
If you are overwhelmed with Credit Card debt and other consumer debt, check out this Debt Relief Manual.
Can you keep debt separate in marriage?
According to Investopedia the debts you incurred as an individual, post-marriage, remain your responsibility, with the exception of child care, housing, and food debts, which are joint in nature regardless of your marital status.
Note that there are nine states in which all property (and debts) are shared after marriage regardless of individual or joint account status. They are Arizona, California, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. In these community-property states, you are not liable for most of your spouse’s debt that was incurred before marriage, but any debt incurred after the wedding is automatically shared even when applied for individually. (investopedia.com)
Final Thoughts on How Money Affects Marriage Relationships
Relationships have many elements to them. Partners will be able to achieve wonderful things when they can work together towards a common goal.
You must first look at the current financial situation of your married life. Once you are able to evaluate and figure out the exact position your finances are in, you can then make plans and set goals to move forward.
It is important to remember that money is a functional tool.The most important thing when it comes to finances is that the people involved can learn to work together as a unit instead of disagreeing about every aspect of their finances.
Money affects relationships in many ways, including how partners view each other and their roles within the relationship. It also has a lot to do with each partner’s financial situation—financial independence or dependence can be major contributors in building trust, peace, love, and harmony in your family relationship structure.
- 1. What Is A ‘Money Personality’?
- 2. Who Has Control Over the Money?
- 3. The Cost of Arguments
- 4. The Importance of Trust
- 5. Making Peace Together
- Related Questions On Money and Marriage
We have resources available to help you create the marriage you desire and deserve.
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
If you want specific help for your marriage, or you want to know your healthy marriage score, take the marriage quiz. You’ll get immediate access with suggestions on how to improve your relationship.
The Healthy Marriage Toolkit
Books, Courses, Programs, and Tools designed to help you create the marriage of your dreams.
Five Simple Steps Marriage Course
Marriage doesn’t have to be complicated. In this 5 part mini-series, you’ll discover practical steps to redesign your marriage.
Healthy Marriage Academy
Our courses will help you build a strong marriage. Each course is designed to meet a specific relationship need.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.