Financial strain, like other problems of marriage issue, can create discord, resentment, acrimony and frustration. Major financial issues in marriage derive from having divergent philosophies, values and orientation about money, spending and saving; lack of trust; keeping secrets about money; inadequate income to cater for the family’s financial needs; pressures from spouse to fulfil financial obligations; frivolous spending by spouse and perceived or real tight-fistedness.
Money-induced marital conflict may emerge when the spouses incline towards different orientations about money. For instance, when one who has cultivated the habit of saving and investing is married to someone who enjoys satisfying his/her whims, money-related conflicts may perpetually surface. This is why it is often recommended for intending couples to engage in discussions and reach conclusions on issues relating to money. Such discussions will afford them the opportunity to understand their would-be spouse’s philosophy about money. It is also important to have a household budget which will help to keep track of money budget.
Lack of trust is itself a precipitating factor for marital conflict and it may spill over to other aspects of spousal relationship, including finance. This problem may result from, among other things, spouses keeping secrets about money. It is astonishing, yet true and common that couples who are supposed to be the closest individuals and who are supposed to share the totality of their lives keep accounts of their earnings from each other. This is unhealthy as it breeds cynicism that may degenerate into serious marital conflicts. Openness with respect to money is, therefore, key in reducing the occurrences of money-motivated marital crises. Admittedly, reporting to one’s spouse about money and spending may feel like an infringement on one’s freedom, especially when it comes to rationalizing and defending a purchase one’s spouse does not endorse. This is perhaps one of the reasons spouses keep secrets about money. Marriage Experts often advocate the setting aside of discretionary money- money earmarked to be spent as individual wishes without necessarily reporting to their spouse what they used it for.
It is also rewarding for couples to unanimously determine to work hard and strategically, to be able to afford the minimum (or desired) material comfort that they aim at; set and pursue specific but realistic goals for themselves such as saving for a house project, car, vacation and business. This will not only help guide against frivolous spending, it helps spouses to work together as a team and further get bonded.
In sum, disagreeing about money is not an uncommon thing, neither is it a bad thing in itself. However, the way couples argue about money determines whether it will degenerate into a serious spousal conflict. While it is not out of place to argue about money or complain about your spouse’s way of spending, it is pertinent to choose one’s words carefully and refrain from despicable words and negative labels as these will do more damage than good.
Importantly, a regular discourse on “family budget and finance” between couples supported by mutual openness, support and self-giving would help to navigate the financial challenges of relationships in these times. At such discourse, couples should develop and agree on principles that best suits their peculiar situations or prevailing problems as occasion demands.