Marriage is not easy. Even couples that are madly in love with each other fight. Money problems is one of the main reasons why couples fight. It is also one of the leading causes of divorce and can put a huge strain on a marriage.
Most couples hide financial information from each other or only reveal a part of it. This is usually where the problem starts. They do this due to lack of trust, emotional sensitivity because of betrayal in the past, resentment, or sometimes even due to insecurity.
In some cases, financial infidelity can go unnoticed for years and ends up driving a wedge between couples. Financial problems are a serious issue but there are things you can do to help you avoid having them in your marriage. Let’s dive into it.
1. Have a Budget Plan
Having a budget plan is a very important thing for every household. It is a very effective way of keeping track of your money. Creating a budget as a couple brings together concepts of your financial future and financial expectations.
It also provides you with a convenient guide as your financial needs keep changing over time. Budgeting helps you as a couple to be financially disciplined, gradually helping you minimize the financial problems in your marriage.
Although budgeting may seem stressful and time-consuming at first, it may yield very significant benefits that may play a major role in preventing marital disputes.
As a couple, you should keep a record of what you are spending your money on. There are online tools and apps like Mint that are designed to help you come up with a budget much more easily.
These apps track your spending relative to your earnings. The record of spending should include your average monthly income and a detailed list of the things you spend your money on.
2. Discuss your Financial Situation with your Partner
Discussing your financial situation with your partner is a very important step in building financial security and trust in your marriage. You should be honest with your partner about your total income and your expenses.
Before tying the knot, ensure that you make a point of fully discussing your finances with your significant other regardless of how uncomfortable it may be.
Your partner needs to know about any outstanding loans, debts, investments, income sources, or any other financial obligations or assets.
In case you have been married before or you have child support responsibilities, you have to address these issues with your spouse as soon as possible. Keeping quiet about these issues will escalate your issues even further.
3. Do not overspend on your wedding
One of the biggest mistakes that couples make when getting into marriage is spending way too much money on their wedding. Yes, it’s true.
Most couples spend more than they can handle at their weddings. They end up going into debt while trying to pay for a celebration that lasts only one day. Of course, your big day should be memorable, you should be able to have the day you dreamed of since you were a child, but it also shouldn’t leave you wallowing in debt. It should be within your budget.
When you add the wedding costs on top of the student loans of young couples, a huge majority are already drowning in debt just as they enter marriage. This, however, does not mean that couples should ignore weddings and their festivities. They should instead find alternative ways of making their wedding more affordable such as having a smaller wedding or by having a big party when they are at a better state financially, say on their fifth or tenth anniversary.
4. Avoid blaming each other
Whenever you are faced with a financial crisis, the best way to tackle it is as a team. In such a situation, both of you should take time and try to solve the issue in a logical way instead of pointing fingers. Blaming your spouse will only waste your energy and make worse of a bad situation. Sitting down with your spouse and discussing the issue will help you come up with a solution that will help you avoid being in a similar situation once again. Blaming each other will only reduce your ability to manage the situation by escalating both of your stress levels.
5. Set similar life goals
A marriage is a partnership between you and your spouse. Sharing your goals and dreams with your better half not only solidifies the relationship but also gets rid of any misunderstandings. As a couple, you need to come together as a team and work towards the things that you prioritize the most. Create a list together of the things you would like to do and follow it while supporting each other. It is also important for you to set goals that both of you can comfortably work towards. Such goals can include the payment of a short-term loan, saving for your children’s education, among other goals.
6. Be open with your spouse
Talking regularly with your spouse is very important in marriage. It is often the things that are left unsaid that result in the biggest problems in a marriage. If you are experiencing a financial crisis, talking it through with your spouse may actually be more helpful than keeping your problems to yourself. As a couple, you should increase the number of times you talk about money and the family finances to at least twice a month. Through talking, you could discuss a lot of things including budgeting, settling of debts, planning for retirement, insurance payments, family goals among other things. The more you discuss the family finances with your spouse, the easier it gets as time goes by, making it possible to bring up such discussions in a normal relaxed dialogue.
7. Do not be too restricting
Breathing down on your spouse’s neck every time they make a purchase can be very restricting. No one likes having to defend every action they take. There are moments when you make a purchase that your partner does not approve of. However, criticizing every purchase can be annoying and may result in arguments that can be avoided. It is therefore wise to give your spouse some breathing space by agreeing to have separate budgets for each of you to spend on the items you want. With this money, your spouse does not have to report back to you what they used it for. This allows freedom in the relationship, as long as both of you remember to stay within your budgets.
8. Treat your spouse the way you want them to treat you
Treating your spouse the way you want him or her to treat you is considered to be the golden rule of any marriage. Although this rule may seem simple to apply, most couples tend to forget it and it ends up being the root of all the financial disputes in your marriage. Getting married is not a ticket to being financially irresponsible. It would be wise to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and consider how he or she would react before making any financial decision. What you perceive as necessity might not necessarily be a ‘need’ but something that you do not really require. Although it may be okay to complain about how your partner spends his or her money, you should do it in a way that does not use negative labels such as ‘spendthrift’ or any other contemptuous way of describing their spending behavior.
9. Seek help from a third party
If the financial disputes between you and your spouse are threatening your marriage such that you are coming close to a divorce, it would be wise to consider getting help from a third party that can help mediate the issue. You might consider getting help from a financial planner, or if you are religious, seeking help and guidance from your religious leader is also a good option. Going for financial therapy might help you and your spouse navigate through your financial problems such as financial infidelity, budgeting issues, among other potential monetary pitfalls that may cause conflict in your marriage.
10. Set aside an emergency fund
Life is full of uncertain events and anything can happen at any time. As a couple, you may be hit by unfortunate events at any time. One of you might lose his or her job, a family member might fall ill, a loved one may pass away, or any other unfortunate event that may affect your financial situation. It is therefore very wise to set up an emergency fund that can be accessed in case of an emergency. You should decide on an amount that both of you can comfortably contribute on a regular basis to be deposited in a bank only to be used on a rainy day. This will most definitely help minimize problems between you and your spouse in case of an emergency.
By following these ways patiently and diligently, you will be able to identify your concerns and fears about your financial situation with your spouse. You should always take into consideration the fact that there is always a reason for every action taken, including the spending of money. It is therefore important to try listening to your partner more and give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Blaming your partner is never the answer and if you want to be financially healthy in your marriage, you should both focus on working together as a team.
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