Take a group of ten married couples and chances are, at one time or another, each one of those couples has faced money woes in their relationship. Money is the cause of many fights for married couples. How couples handle those issues can make them or break them.
Many people model their behaviors, actions and relationships after what they saw from their own parents. In my family, my mom was always the one that sat down and paid all of the bills, balanced their bank accounts, and dealt with most money issues. My parents have a joint bank account and always have for as long as I can remember. My husband, on the other hand, came from a family where his parents had seperate bank accounts and split the cost of the bills and household expenses.
When we first got married, my husband and I really struggled to line out our finances. Not only did we have different opinions about how to share money, but we also had problems because he is a spender and I am a saver.
My husband thought we should have seperate bank accounts and split all of our expenses. So we set up seperate accounts and when it came time to pay bills we would split the cost of those bills. I was ok with that arrangement even though it was not what I was used to from watching my parents. The problem of splitting expenses came when we went out to a restaurant and he would want to get seperate checks. To me, this was an embarrasment, that here you have a married couple but they get seperate checks for their meal. Now, that may work for some couples, but I just didn’t like it.
Finally one night when we were eating out I brought up the fact that it embarrassed me when he wanted to get seperate checks. He was shocked that it bothered me. His response was “well, mom and Tom (his stepdad) split all their expenses. I just thought that was how we should do it.” I told him that I can gaurantee that my inlaws do not get seperate checks at a restaurant. Yes, they may split the household bills but that doesn’t mean you have to split everything. We discussed this, and finally came to an agreement that we would continue to split our household bills and if we go out to eat we could take turns paying.
Not only working out how to share expenses but many couples have issues with different values about money. As I mentioned before, my husband is a spender and I am a saver. When my husband and I married, I was driving a car that was 11 years old and completely paid for. In my family when my parents would buy a vehicle they would drive it until it just couldn’t go anymore before they would get a new one. My husband’s family rotated new cars every two or three years. This was a big battle for us because he would get “bored” with what he was driving and want to trade it in. Thankfully we overcame that particular issue without blood shed and tears.
Many couples, however, are not able to compromise and move past those financial hurdles. I have seen close friend’s whose marriages fall apart because they can’t handle the stress of money problems. If you are in a relationship where the way you or your partner handles money is a problem, seek out help. Maybe you can sit down with a financial counselor, accountant, minister, or even just a friend to help you work through those money issues. Don’t just overlook those issues and let your marriage be destroyed for lack of action. Take control and work with your spouse to come to a compromise. Don’t let money destroy your marriage.