How to Overcome 'Money Fights' in Marriage

The nature of exchanges I witness on discussions over ‘marriage and money’, especially on social
media and our media platforms, openly indicate the depth of wound money has caused many couples. Indeed, as it’s said, every marriage has a mole, and if it’s not money then it’s not a serious problem.

Before I got married, I went through a marital class on this issue with a very reliable and knowledgeable person. The lessons my wife and I learnt have proved to be very helpful as far as handling finances in our marriage is concerned. This is what I wish to share with you.

I am truly concerned of how most people handle money in marriage because, at the end of it all, most couples will only have two options to choose from: Either divorce or live together unhappily. If I’ll help one family from drowning, I’ll be a happy soul.

Define “Family Money”

This is where the rubber meets the road; it’s the anchor of all family financial problems.

To experience a health marriage, a couple must have a clear understanding what’s “family money”. In marriage, both the husband and wife’s income becomes family money. Some partners have found themselves in the “keep-some-money-aside-just-in-case” trap. They fear their spouse might walk away on them and leave them without any money. This is a recipe for trouble!

In the first chapter of the book ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’, Robert Kiyosaki has labored to explain two emotions that affect our relationship with money, the emotions I strongly believe are at work, negatively, for people who want to be independent over their money even in marriage. First is fear; that you won’t have enough, or you’ll lose what you have. Secondly it’s greed; that you all the money for yourself without caring for others. To attain financial freedom, Kiyosaki advises one to overcome these two emotions. It’s not an easy task!

Secret deals must be avoided at all cost as they form good sources of bitter family conflicts. You don’t want to be part of the daily horror stories of married people fighting over money. Most of marital court cases point at a financial conflict. At times I think Solomon had marriages in mind when he penned Eccrlessiates 5:13: ‘There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: Riches kept for their owner to his hurt.’ Every couple should understand it’s in the best of their marriage to be totally transparent to each other regarding their income.

For easy of management, spouses can decide to keep their money in a joint account. You can also manage with separate accounts, but have a discussion and have clear agreement. 

In marriage vows, the couple to be promises to share all things together. Even them that didn’t have a chance to literally vow, somehow had this feeling of “wanting to share all” with their new found love. It’s until greed and selfish ambitions creep in that people start keeping ‘something-for-oneself’. Any marriage, especially Christian marriage, will survive if the parties willingly uphold this simple promise of sharing all things – and this includes money!

Budget and Plan together

Learning to plan and budget together is another important step in establishing a strong money foundation in marriage. A budget is crucial as it helps in identifying spending and investment priorities. It will help in accountability as each partner is required to account for expenses on their part.

Our mentor said a couple who don’t budget and plan together will find themselves in consistent quarrels about money. It’s a nasty scenario; having a bad ugly moments before sleep, after a long day. You can avoid this by planning together. Beatty and I usually have a major monthly sitting to review our spending, budget for the next month, and discuss any money related issue. 

Understand each other’s spending and saving behavior

In most cases, one partner spends more while the other is a better saver. My wife is a keen spender while I am not. I’m ‘extremely’ compassionate and may be easily trapped to give away our rent for a needy cause. That may not be wise. Since we understand this to be true and we both want to succeed in finances, I’ve chosen to have her keep me on truck as far as spending is concerned. This way, we’re able to save and invest wisely.  

For a healthy financial relationship, stronger saver should help balance the bigger spender so that you don’t end up poor. The bigger spender should also helps balance the saver lest you are labeled “stichy family” 

Wisely Invest family money

The health of family finance does not stop at successfully agreeing to share and budget for your money together. It requires wise investing. Here partners must work together to choose investments that will enable them build family wealth.

The old good advice on investment apply here:
  • Live on less than you earn. It’s as simple and as hard as that.
  • After living on less than you earn, invest the balance and keep re-investing
  • Invest in assets not liabilities. 
  • Don’t choose growth and returns over security
  • Always think long term
  • Unless you have the financial wisdom for it, avoid get-rich-fast schemes and speculative investments

Low financial seasons

It’s important to understand that there are, and shall be ‘low income seasons’ in marriage. A couple must be therefore be prepared for the same. 

What happens if your spouse loses their source of income, or, God forbid, is totally incapacitated to bring in an income? Are you prepared to support them without complaining?

Money has never been enough and every couple must at all means avoid living beyond their means. They should find ways of developing multiple streams of income on top of their traditional source of income.

Avoid peer pressure trap!

We’ve grown to know that peer pressure belongs to the teens; that’s not true. It’s so evident in grown-ups. 

It didn’t end up on the push to get married. Now that you have a family, these are our new questions:
  • When is the baby coming?
  • By the way, which hospital are you delivering at?
  • When are planning to move to your new home?
  • When are you buying your first car?
  • What school are your kids attending?

Listening to opinions of other people is not wrong, but don’t allow them to pile pressure on your well being. Sit as a couple, analyze every situation and make sound decisions regarding the need at hand. Decide when it’s fit to have a baby, whether you really need a TV screen, to first buy a plot or a car. Don’t fall into the peer pressure trap.

I truly hope these crucial guidelines will help you avoid money-related problems threatening many families. Keep an eye for an article on how to handle your money with in-laws. 

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