9 Reasons Why Working on Your Finances Alone is Hurting Your Marriage

May 27, 2016

Not seeing eye-to-eye with your spouse on your finances is a common struggle. I’ve experienced it, and I’ve seen it with friends, relatives, and clients.

It isn’t a surprise, though, that this is a common source of contention in marriages. You and your spouse likely came from households where money was talked about and handled differently – or in many cases, not talked about at all. Unfortunately, financial issues are cited as one of the leading causes of divorce. A disconnect there can wreak havoc on your relationship, so it is beyond crucial that married couples learn to work together.

Even if things are “going well” with your money, managing it alone when you’re married is a dangerous path to take. You miss out on the benefits of acting as partners in something that is such a significant part of your lives. And if things take a turn, fingers get pointed quite easily, because, “I thought you were taking care of things.”

Today, we will explore the impact of working alone or separately on our finances and the practical steps we can take to change that. So first, let’s take a look at how working on your finances alone can actually hurt your marriage.

9 Reasons Why Working on Your Finances Alone is Hurting Your Marriage

 

1. The Pressure is Too Great

Whether it’s just the two of you or if you have children, being solely responsible for the finances of a family comes with a lot of pressure – too much. The decision-making and the planning cannot fall on the shoulders of just one spouse. The two of you don’t maintain separate households, or raise your children separately (at least not intentionally). Your finances should be no different.

2. You’ll Go Nowhere

Working on your finances alone or separately when you’re married, is like driving a car and both of you are tugging at the steering wheel. You will go nowhere, or worse, you will crash. As long as the two of you are driving your finances in different directions, you will not see the progress you want to see – or could see – if you were working together.

3. Resentment Will Build

Let’s assume you are currently the one handling the finances. (I think it’s safe to assume that since you are reading this article.) I will even go as far as to assume that you are frustrated that your spouse does not help you. You likely feel that you spend a lot of time figuring things out and staying on top of the finances, while “they’re off doing what they want to do,” completely oblivious to the financial picture of your household and doing things that “mess up the plan”. Resentment, not to mention frustration and anger, is likely to surface and will continue to mount each time you deal with the finances.

4. Guilt Will Breed Guilt

If the spouse that doesn’t participate in the finances constantly feels like they are messing up, chances are they will begin to feel an immense amount of guilt. Guilt is not the most motivating emotion, so they are more likely to enter a cycle of continuing their habits – feeling shameful about it – continuing their habits anyway. This is the opposite of the change the other spouse is hoping to see.

5. Deception Will Creep In

When you’re not working together or don’t see eye-to-eye, deception and dishonesty can easily find their way into your relationship and finances, and not only in obvious ways like covering up spending, a missed bill, or a new credit card. Even the spouse who is responsible for handling the finances may be tempted to do things like hide savings or income – all with good intentions, of course. Been there, done that.

If you and your spouse just had an argument about money, you will bring it to the next thing you do.

6. You’re Wasting Time

The time you are spending not working together, not agreeing on the direction of your financial life, arguing, etc., is all wasted time. Days, months, and years are passing you by, during which you could be working as a team and accomplishing your goals.

7. Communication Breaks Down in Other Areas

Since money touches every other area of our lives, when the lines of communication are closed here, we feel it elsewhere. If you and your spouse just had an argument about money, you will bring it to the next thing you do – whether it’s starting your day at work, spending time with your kids, or simply deciding what’s for dinner.

8. Equality in the Relationship Shifts

You are partners. You are equals. But this equality begins to shift when one spouse does all the planning alone while the other remains completely clueless, or the minute one spouse starts scolding the other for spending.

9. You Miss Out on Accountability

Regardless of the state of your finances, accountability is one of the keys to a successful plan. You miss out on this if you’re operating solo, especially if you are trying to make significant changes or meet a massive goal like paying off your debt.

Resentment, guilt, deception, lack of accountability…these do not a healthy marriage make. The good news is since money does affect every area of your lives, when you and your spouse get on the same page with your finances, you will feel the benefits elsewhere. It’s a beautiful thing when couples learn to work together because open communication is contagious, and it will spread to other areas of your marriage.

So, now that we know why we as married couples need to work together, how do we do that? Does that literally mean writing every single check or going over every single detail together? How do we get our spouse to start helping us? In How To Get Your Spouse to Help You With the Finances, we explore how to start working together and what that may look like.

 

Can you relate to any of the reasons listed here? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.