Are You the Source of the Money Stress in Your Marriage?
Are You the Source of the Money Stress in Your Marriage?
Raise your hand if you had an argument about money with your spouse in the last week. How about in the last month? I see you.
There’s a statistic regarding marriage that you have certainly heard: 50% of marriages end in divorce. And related to that statistic is that money stress and money issues is one of the leading causes of divorce, just after basic incompatibility and infidelity.
Not a rosy outlook for married folks, huh? Now if you did argue with your spouse about money in the past week or month, that does not mean your marriage is destined to become another divorce statistic—even if you’ve had the fleeting thought that “you’d be better off on your own.”
While money stress can affect, strain, or, yes, even end a marriage, there are steps you can take to prevent the stress from completely consuming your relationship.
Identify What Role You Play in the Money Stress
It’s time for a little self-reflection. Before you can point a finger at what your spouse is or isn’t doing that is contributing to the money stress in your marriage, you need to consider what role you play in the stress.
How do your actions contribute to the issues you are having? Are you a control freak? (Take a minute to think about that one.) Do you nag and complain and rarely acknowledge when your spouse does anything positive? Do you criticize your spouse whenever they attempt to help or do things related to the finances because they didn’t do it the right way aka YOUR way? Have you created the stressful environment?
Answering these questions does in no way let your spouse off the hook or downplay their role in the money stress. No, you both play a part in the money issues in your marriage, but thinking about these questions will shed light on your contribution to the issues.
Take Responsibility for Your Actions
After a little self-reflection, you should now be aware of how your attitude and actions add to the financial stress in your marriage. Now you can begin to take responsibility for those actions.
Make a conscious effort to reduce and eventually eliminate the behavior that is contributing to the issues. If you are controlling, try to loosen your grip a little bit. If you are always nagging and complaining, replace it with acknowledgment and praise. Be okay with less-than-perfect results when your spouse helps out.
Of course, all this is easier said than done, but the point is to try. Make the effort, and continue to work at it. Your spouse will take notice and ideally own up to their actions and attitude.
Invite Your Spouse to Voice Their Frustrations
You undoubtedly are familiar with your own gripes and complaints about your spouse and their role in the money stress in your relationship, but do you know what your husband’s or wife’s gripes are? Have you ever asked?
Invite your spouse to voice what issues they have regarding your financial situation and the stress surrounding it. You may be surprised by what your spouse has to say. Their answers may shed light on a perspective that you never considered.
Before asking, decide that you will be open to their response regardless of what it is and let them know it is safe to speak their mind completely.
Yes, you need to be patient. Most people don’t want to hear this, but being patient with your spouse is essential to reducing the money stress in your relationship.
Regardless of your partner’s actions, extending patience and understanding will alter the stressful environment regarding your finances. Being patient with your spouse provides much more of an incentive for them to do what they need to do than does faultfinding and complaining.
Just like in taking responsibility for your actions, modeling patience will cause your spouse to recognize that you have shifted your attitude a bit, and they will likely follow suit.
Find a Way to Work Together That Works for Both of You
Perhaps the money stress in your marriage is related to how you’ve approached your finances. Together, evaluate what is and what isn’t working related to your finances.
Consider the possibility that how you’ve been doing things may work for one but not both of you. What can you do differently that is on both of your terms, not just on one of your terms?
Explore a few different approaches until you find what works for both of you.
Establish Ground Rules
It’s a good idea to set some ground rules or some absolutes when it comes to your finances.
For example, you could decide together that each month you will work on the budget together no matter what—even if one spouse is tempted to do it alone. Or you can set the rule that you will consult each other any time either of you wishes to spend outside of what was established in the budget or above a predetermined dollar amount.
Brainstorm together what ground rules make sense for your marriage and financial situation. Agree upon them, document them, and commit to sticking to them. Doing this provides clear boundaries within which you and your spouse operate.
While money stress can be a common occurrence in any marriage, it does not have to define yours.
If you actively take the steps to reduce the stress in your relationship: identify what role you play; take responsibility for your actions; invite your spouse to voice their frustrations; exercise patience; find a way to work together that works for both of you; and establish ground rules, you will be well on your way to shifting the atmosphere surrounding money in your marriage from one of stress and division to one of peace and unity.