A lot of couples experience financial woes at some point in their marriages, and that can lead to stress and strain on the relationship. “Money issues” are the second leading cause of divorce nationwide, with only infidelity being cited more often.
However, it’s not the lack of money that necessarily causes the most marital strife. Instead, it’s the problems couples have openly discussing their finances and working out any differences in their approach to money. Here are some of the top causes of conflict:
Different values and goals
Divergent values and goals when it comes to money can be a huge source of trouble. When partners have different approaches to spending, saving, investing and financial planning, it can lead to constant disagreements.
For example, one spouse might be a “spender,” while the other is a “saver.” One might prioritize short-term pleasures, while the other focuses on long-term security. This misalignment can create resentment that ultimately piles up and breaks the couple apart.
Even when there’s plenty of money to go around, money can still cause problems – especially if it creates a power imbalance when one spouse earns all or most of the household income.
The partner who earns less may feel inadequate (or controlled, if they have to check all their expenditures with their spouse), while the partner who earns more may feel overburdened with the financial responsibilities or “stuck” in a high-intensity profession that saps them of their energy and time because they’re the family’s main source of support.
According to one banking survey, around 32% of people in the United States are hiding a money secret from their spouse or partner – and that doesn’t bode well for their marriages.
Sure, when a spouse secretly runs up a bunch of credit cards on foolish expenditures or quietly empties the savings account on a get-rich-quick scheme, that’s going to create problems – but the betrayal is often harder to handle than the actual financial loss. Once trust is lost in a relationship, it’s very hard to regain.
Sometimes, sitting down with your spouse and having some frank discussions about the money issues that are eroding your relationship can provoke positive change and save the marriage. Other times, it just makes it clear that you’re financially incompatible and the marriage was destined to fail from the start.