According to research conducted at Kansas State University, fights about money are the number one predictor of divorce. Studies have also shown that spousal arguments about money tend to be the longest and most intense, which is certainly not good news if you want to stay on good terms with your husband or wife. If you want to have a healthy and lasting relationship, it is clear that avoiding disagreements about finances is crucial. Here are several ways to go about that.
Be honest about your debt from the start.
A lot of arguments start when one spouse discovers that the other has debt that they did not know about. Finding out that your loved one has been hiding debt can make it hard to trust them. Thus, it is important to be open and honest about any debt you are carrying. Ideally, you should disclose your debt to your partner before you're even married, but if you have been keeping debt a secret, telling your partner now is better than waiting. The longer you wait, the angrier he or she is likely to be when your secret is discovered.
When you tell your partner about your debt, you can then start working together to find ways of paying it off, rather than feeling like you're hiding something. Working together will make you feel more like a united team, which will strengthen your marriage.
Make big money decisions together.
Even though you might have a job and earn "your own" money, it is still not wise to make big purchases without first consulting with your partner. If you spend the money without talking to your partner and he or she ends up feeling uncomfortable with the purchase you make, this might lead to a fight. Bring up the topic casually. Say something along the lines of "I've been thinking of purchasing a new lawn mower with the bonus money I have coming in next month. What are your thoughts?" Listen to what your spouse has to say on the matter, and make the decision together.
Figure out how you will split expenses from the get-go.
Failing to figure out how expenses will be split will lead to numerous fights in the future, since one spouse may start feeling like he or she is responsible for more than a fair share of the bills. There are a few different ways for couples to handle expenses. Some couple choose to have each spouse deposit a certain amount of money in a joint account each month, and then that account is used to pay bills like the mortgage and utility costs. Other couples split up the bills -- one spouse might pay the mortgage and grocery bills, while the other covers the other costs.
It is up to you and your spouse to devise a plan that works for you. What is most important is that you have a plan and revisit it often to ensure it is still working for both of you. This way, neither of you will end up feeling taken advantage of.
Talk about it in counseling.
It's a common misconception that marriage counseling is only for couples who are already having problems. Meeting with a marriage counselor at least a few times a year, even when your marriage fine, is a good preventative measure. A marriage counselor can help open the lines of communication between you and your partner, making you feel more comfortable talking about any issues you are having (including issues with money) before they become bigger problems and lead to a fight.
Counseling can also be a good setting to bring up important money decisions, such as whether it's wise to upgrade to a new house or purchase a new car. Having a knowledgeable, neutral third person present when you have big discussions of this sort can ensure that both of you get to speak your mind and express your opinions equally without the situation escalating into a fight.
Don't let money become a source of contention in your marriage. By following the four tips above, you'll be off to a good start in terms of being open, honest, and on the same page regarding your finances. Talk with local counseling services, such as Drake Counseling Services, for more information and tips.
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