Money Matters: Talking the Money Talk with Your Spouse

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Money, money, money! This is one of the main reasons why couples argue and fight, and when the differences become “irreconcilable”, the couple can face marital breakdown. In fact, finances are a hot topic for couples undergoing marriage counseling. Especially in today’s challenging economic times, couples face strained married relationships due to concerns about saving, finances, keeping a job and investing.

Money and how the family’s finances are handled can be a source of arguments and bitter disagreements. The problem with money is that based on your upbringing, personal experiences and personality, it can mean a lot of different things. Money can be viewed as a source of enjoyment, security, love, control or power. That is why two people (who have different backgrounds and personalities) living together “as one” will eventually have to tackle money problems.

Here are some reasons why couples fight about money:

-          Couples may not have the same financial upbringing. One may enjoy spending money like there’s no tomorrow while the other feels it’s important to establish a savings account.

-          One partner feels annoyed or betrayed about the other partner’s money habits.

-          One partner feels that he or she has little control concerning the finances.

Before things head for serious problems, you and your partner should sit down and discuss matters. Communicating (and coming to an agreement) about money is the first step toward putting your family’s finances in order.

Below are some tips to help you succeed with the “money talk”:

-          Discuss money when emotions are not high. It is best to set a “neutral” time where the atmosphere is relaxed and there are no pressures about money in the offing. Don’t wait for a money issue to come up before you invite your spouse to talk about money, especially if you’re already holding the credit card bill or the unbalanced check book.

-          Communicate. Try to uncover your spouse’s feelings and views about money. To do this, you may have to start by sharing your own feelings and thoughts on the matter. You may need to discuss your family background (how your parents handled money), your financial goals and aspirations. This may also include a discussion of what level of saving/spending you feel comfortable with.

-          Set guidelines. Agree with your spouse about guidelines as to how and when you will discuss money matters. For instance, you can agree that you will not discuss money in public, in front of your children, while you’re in bed or driving in the car. You can also agree to avoid the use of words such as “you never” or “you always”.  A non-attacking approach using I statements (i.e. “I feel” or “I think” should be used instead. You can agree not to make threats during money discussions such as “If you spend this much, I will divorce you.”

-          Make agreements on how to handle money. Who pays for which expenses? Will the money be pooled together? Who handles bill payments and bookkeeping?

-          Set goals. Identify short term and long term financial goals for your family. Long term goals cover where you want to be financially in five years, ten years. Your long term goals may include saving up for a child’s education, saving a certain amount of money as down payment for a dream house, saving up for a dream vacation, or paying off certain debts.Short term goals may include setting up a weekly budget and a plan on how to stick to it, opening a savings account, getting rid of a credit card and so on.

-          Agree to be accountable. Marriage is a partnership and each spouse is accountable to the other as they together work to meet the financial goals they have set. This does not necessarily mean that you have to report to your spouse on every dollar you spend. However, this does mean that you should not keep spending secrets from your spouse.

-          Get some help.If your money arguments seem to be circling around without getting resolved, it may be time to get a third party to help. A marriage counselor can do a lot to help you as a couple to sort out money issues you may be struggling with. 

Marriage Counseling and how it can help 

An emotionally charged topic such as money can set off bombs in the relationship. An experienced marriage therapist can equip couples with vital tools to help them deal with key financial issues. This includes hashing out the differences in each spouse’s financial outlook and attitudes. The family counselingsessions can uncover damaging financial habits and outline the path towards freedom from these habits.

All kinds of problems can stem from financial problems. In some cases, one of the marital partners may have sought temporary help from drugs or alcohol in order to alleviate the burden of financial problems. Asubstance abuse counselor is helpful in discussing issues such as these, as well as any sex-related problems in the marriage.

For those located in Provo, Utah who are searching for a licensed and experienced therapist to help with any of these issues, call Triston Morgan. He is a professional marriage and family therapist in the state of Utah. For years, he has helped couples, families and teens recover from many types of problems and emerge stronger as a unit.

Triston Morgan has a master’s degree and PhD in marriage and family therapy from Loma Linda University and Brigham Young University, respectively. He is licensed to provide PREPARE/ENRICH courses that can help to prepare couples for a long and happy marriage in the Provo, Utah area.

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