Money Problems in a marriage - How not to let money issues destroy your marriage
Together with sex and infidelity, money issues rank among the most common reasons for conflict in a marriage. Money may be used to dominate a relationship or satisfy a hungry ego. Too little of it can be a source of anxiety especially when there are children to be educated and mortgages to be paid off. Again too much of it can also lead to inflated egos and breaking bonds. Here are a few ways to deal with money issues and not to let them destroy your marriage.
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Identify your priorities
As soon as two people get married, they should sit together and identify major financial priorities. Paying off a mortgage or putting aside for a yearly vacation might figure foremost on the minds of newly married couples. However priorities may change few years down the marriage and once you have kids, you might start thinking about saving money to pay for their college. Conflicts about money usually arise when partners have differing priorities. While a husband may believe in splurging on a new sports car, a wife may feel that the money is better spent on a long vacation to an exotic location. It is here that the maturity of a couple is called for. They can either compromise on what they want or when they want it. For instance the couple could go for weekend trip to a more affordable destination and go for a cheaper model of a new car. Or they could get the fancy car now and start saving right away for a vacation next year. Whatever the decision, it should keep in mind the desires of both partners and the resources available.
Live within your means
One of the most frequent causes of financial troubles in a marriage is when expenses outrun earnings. To address the problem, start out by adding up all your earnings and then proceed to make a household budget. Include daily expenses like food and transport, weekly buys like groceries, school supplies, gas and items of personal care as well as monthly debits like bills and fees for services. To this add ten percent for entertainment like movies or eating out. Add another ten percent to meet emergency expenses like healthcare or car troubles. If you have mortgages to pay off or any other kind of loan repayment, include them in your budget as well. Then see if your earnings can meet the sum of your expenses. If not, cut down on your entertainment layout and other discretionary expenses. This is only a rough idea of what should go into planning a household budget since the details will vary according to the needs of a family. However the important thing is that both spouses should agree on the importance of living within one’s means and work towards it.
Learn to put by for a rainy day
Even when spouses live within their means, one day they may find out that do not have enough money to meet emergency expenses or a major purchase. For this, it is essential to put a little by on a regular basis. A good idea is to put aside one-tenth of your earnings every month to create a nest egg which can then be used to buy a state-of-the-art home entertainment system or meet unforeseen medical bills. However this is possible only when all members of the family co-operate on the idea and in general, learn to inculcate good saving habits.
Money should not be used to dominate
A common complaint about money in a marriage is that the partner who controls the purse strings assumes that he or she can control the relationship. Traditionally, a husband took most of the decisions in a marriage since he was the major and often the only earning member. Even though the situation has now improved with women being financially independent, the old mindset can still spell trouble in a marriage. Rather both partners should be considered as equal contributors to the relationship and therefore be allowed equal say when it comes to expenses and investments.
Don’t use money as a bartering counter
If you feel that any of your needs as a partner, like greater intimacy, are not being met within a marriage, avoid using the lure of money or expensive gifts to get what you want. After the first few times, this will only make your partner feel cheap about your relationship besides leaving the underlying issues unresolved. Rather set aside some time to thrash out the basic reasons of your dissatisfaction and see how they may be resolved between the two of you.
Consider different ways of looking at money
When you begin to disagree with your spouse over managing and spending money, keep in mind that you both may have been brought up according to differing financial philosophies. While your spouse’s family may have been great believers in living debt-free, your college education may have been smoothly sponsored by loans. Whatever be your attitudes toward money management, make sure that you can meet your priorities as a couple and be satisfied as individuals.
Don’t forget to keep talking to each other
It is not enough to set down a few guidelines on expenses and then go about each other’s ways. You should make it a point to have a chat on money matters on a regular basis, maybe once every month. Mark a date on the calendar if need be, so that you both can reschedule other engagements. Use this time to discuss individual and joint financial obligations besides keeping track of expenses and earnings in your marriage. If you have any queries regarding a major expense by your partner, clarify it at your discussion instead of brooding over it and getting mad at your spouse.
Talking about money is not always a pleasant thing but is necessary if two people are to share a life together. The key to solving money issues lies in effective communication between you and your spouse so that you both can work as a team towards accomplishing your financial goals and at the same time imbibe a sense of individual empowerment.