Marriage and Money

Managing  money is one of the topics brought up most often in couples counseling.  As you can imagine, many husband and wives argue over this topic.  These arguments can become frustrating and hurtful if they continue.

Others couples avoid arguing about money.  They give up, keep separate accounts, and divide up the bills.  Often these couples see their money management as a non-issue.  However, frequently couples who have kept their money separate have set up separate lives in many other areas as well.

It is hard work to get two people to operate as partners on finances.  But if you want a long term happy relationship, it is worth it.  Often couples are tripped up because they think the money itself is the problem.  Some believe if they could just resolve their differences about money all would be well.  Others think by having separate accounts and preventing arguments they have solved the issue.  In truth, both groups have only missed or avoided a deeper problem.  Money is the symptom of the problem like your cough when you get a cold.  Except with a cold it is ok to just treat the symptoms as they go away on their own within a week.   If you ignore symptoms  in your marriage, it is not likely to go away.  Instead it settles in and festers like an untreated infection breading resentments that can over long term contribute to marital dissatisfaction or divorce.

Here a list of some common underlying problem that often are expressed through arguing over money or keeping money separate.

  • Off balance with yours, mine, and ours – Every couple needs space, time, and material things that are their own.  Shared space, time, and material things are also important.  In a healthy relationship these are kept in balance.
  • Lack of conflict resolution and problem solving skills – Navigating a long term relationship as partners requires skills for discussing issues of disagreement in a productive manner and reaching a mutually acceptable resolution.
  • Not developing  common life goals and shared values – Money in our society is generally a means to an end. Our life goals and values go a long way to determine how we spend money.  Healthy, happy couples over the long-term work together on joint life goals and tend to share most values in common.

Of course none these are hard and fast rules.  There very well may be many couples that have a generally healthy, happy marriage and still argue about money from time to time or have decided to keep money separate in some way.  However, consider this perspective.  If you think some of this may apply to you or your relationship has room to grow in one of the areas mentioned above, you may benefit from couples counseling.


photo credit:  Howard County Library System

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