Let's talk money and marriage problems.
Lia, 31, was climbing the corporate ladder when she got married to her husband Daniel. But after she gave birth, she decided to quit her job and be a full-time mum. There’s nothing wrong with that decision, but it took a while to get used to.
“I didn’t like having to be dependent on Daniel for money,” Lia explains. “I started to feel resentful towards my husband because of that.”
Though these feelings are totally normal, when left unchecked, they could spell disaster for Lia and Daniel’s marriage. Money is the leading cause of stress in a relationship, which is why couples should be aware of the potential financial landmines in their relationship.
Money and marriage problems
Here are the most common money and marriage problems that go hand in hand, according to experts.
1. Letting money trigger a power play
What Lia experienced is a power struggle in her marriage. According to marriage and family therapist Neil Rosenthal, these toxic feelings come from feeling like the lesser partner in a marriage.
“The dynamic works like this: the one with more money is perceived as having more power,” writes Rosenthal. “The one with less money usually feels powerless and less valued.”
To avoid letting money start a power struggle in your marriage, Rosenthal recommends talking about money regularly and honestly. Both have a say in the household budget, communicating their needs and wants.
Carla P. also struggled with being financially dependent on her husband. But because her husband fully trusted her with spending their money, the power struggle didn’t take over their marriage. “It’s important for spouses not to let their partner feel inferior simply because he/she is not earning as much or not earning at all,” she says.
2. Bringing debt into the marriage
Debt can place a huge strain on your marriage, which is why you should do everything you can to minimise, if not totally get rid of, your debt before you get married. One study from the Utah State University looked at survey data from 1,010 randomly sampled newlywed couples and found consumer debt can really do a number on your marriage.
“Debt brought into marriage was seen by the husbands and wives in this sample as being the most problematic of the many difficulties they encountered during their first months of marriage,” the study says. The researchers concluded that couples who begin their lives together with large amounts of debt are likely distracted from building the foundations of a strong marriage during the first months and years of marriage.
If you are in some debt, be sure to have a plan to pay it off so that it doesn’t weigh your relationship down. This is one of the most common money and marriage problems that couples face.
3. Materialism, or valuing things over people
If you or your spouse place a lot of value on money, then that could spell trouble for your relationship.
A 2011 study found that couples who say that money isn’t important to them scored 10-15% better on marriage stability and relationship quality compared to couples where one or both are materialistic. Plus, relationships with two materialistic partners were worse off than couples where only one was materialistic.
“Couples where both spouses are materialistic were worse off on nearly every measure we looked at,” said Jason Carroll, the lead author of the study, adding that these couples also have a pattern of “eroding communication, poor conflict resolution, and low responsiveness to each other.”
4. Failing to acknowledge different values
Not everyone will value money the same way you do. Some people see money as a security blanket, while others see it as a means to enjoy life. When couples have clashing money values, this could lead to disagreements and conflict.
According to researchers from the Utah State University, married couples should communicate and acknowledge their differences to better understand each other:
“Understanding how each partner views and values money begins to open lines of communication and lessen conflict. Money in a marriage relationship is an issue; it must be dealt with up front and not just hidden away in communication and conflicts.”
Have you ever faced money and marriage problems happening simultaneously? Do share your experience.