According to marriage counselors, many divorces are caused by financial disagreements between the husband and the wife. You would think that opposing traits on handling money would cause the most problems. For instance, it can be a huge strain on a marriage when one spouse has a spending addiction or may have security or control issues with money. Au contraire, friends, that’s not always the case. Similar ways of thinking about finances can also be a contributor to marital or relationship discord.
What Happens With Two Scrooges or Two Free Spenders?
My older daughter loves to shop and spend money on very expensive items for the house, for her son, and for herself. Her husband grumbles that he has to work twice as hard to satisfy her appetite for trendy items; but when he is with her at the mall, he comes out with all kinds of expensive items for his son, for himself and for the house.
In this example, their financial outlook, some would call it personalities, are very similar and, as a consequence, their monthly budget is strained. My son-in-law complains about my daughter’s spendthrift habits, but he admits that she has spurred him to earn more.
If both spouses are imitating Scrooge, the possibilities of conflict are high. One will chastise the other for every spent penny, and acrimonious discussions will erupt over getting the lowest price for every item, from school supplies to groceries. The mind of a miser engenders all kinds of paranoid thinking.
If they are both free spenders, problems will soon emerge over the lack of resources. If he is the main breadwinner, she will reproach his lack of ambition and effort to earn more. Bitter disputes may occur in front of the children, thus paving the way for a separation. And you can be sure that the in-laws will add fuel to the fire.
Elements Of A Strong Marriage
1. Make sure you communicate. My wife and I sit at the kitchen table every Saturday morning to go over next week’s payments and to make the grocery list. We talk, we think, we analyze, we communicate. That has kept the marriage going for the last 30 years. I accompany her to the supermarket, and she is the one who controls my impulses. She whips out her coupons and checks for cheaper prices on store brands. We are not misers, we are simply careful.
2. Avoid power trips. It seems obvious, but some men believe that because they make more money, they should have more power on deciding which expenses to make. Unless the wife is a perfect airhead who spends money as if she were Greta Garbo (a great cinematic icon of the 30’s), the woman is a valued partner. No macho trips, please. Unfortunately, money is used as a tool, pawn or reason for many a battle between the sexes. It’s often the center and cause of fights and can fuel unhappiness all around. Be watchful of how your money plays a part in your life and relationships.
3. Respect your partner’s responses to financial matters. The second point leads to the third, which is to keep in mind the purpose of your relationship. I always believed that we all try to seek gestalt when we formalize a union with someone else. There are aspects to a relationship that are quite similar to how you’d relate to a business partner (whether we realize or admit this or not). And success in a relationship has its roots on respect. The more we understand each others’ views on finance, it follows that the more we can take on the right kind of role within our families in order to optimize our household’s financial situation.
Finances is one of the most important elements of a marriage; it can strengthen the bond, or destroy it. Once the honeymoon stars have stopped blinking, it is time to sit down and crunch numbers, together. That is not to say that the other elements are not important, but we can safely surmise that a strong love exists already to keep them going: sex, children, religion, work, friends, and mutual respect.
Ever heard of this saying? “Don’t marry for money. You can borrow it cheaper” (Old Scottish Proverb).
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