- Making money is something we all have to do whether we’re in a relationship or not. Whether its for survival purposes, or respect or power, money plays a part in our lives. As far as relationships go, the issue of money has the ability to make or break the relationshipbond.Each partner brings his own rendition of money values to the table. Many couples seldom talk about these values unless a money problem arises. It’s at this point that the effects of money on a relationshipare felt.Features
- Money is best known as a means to survival; however, its influence in relationships can reach into other areas, some of which have nothing to do with survival. Power, control, adoration or seduction are all ways that money can be used within the context of a relationship.When money is valued for what it is–a means to survival–a couple can use it to build a future, or provide for the things that are most important to them. If money is lacking, survival becomes more of a challenge, but the value of the relationshipstays the same.Relationships where money is valued as power or control by one, or both partners, will tend to place blame on the other partner when money problems arise. It’s at this point where the value of the relationship comes into question. Agreeing to not let money become a source of contention at the start of a relationship keeps money issues in their place.
- In spite of the well-known adage, “Money can’t buy happiness,” money is still perceived by many as the answer to life’s problems. And while having an abundant supply can make life more comfortable, relationshipneeds where money is concerned fall more along the lines of clear communication regarding where each partner’s values lie.Any form of money management should be handled from a business perspective whether the partners are corporate or conjugal. Mixing business with pleasure has become a common downfall within the context of marriage relationships.Effects
- Marriage statistics show money issues as a leading cause of divorce. Analysts predict that the rise in bankruptcies and foreclosures will see a substantial increase in divorce rates within the coming years. Considering that married couplesreceive substantial tax benefits, along with the available additional income in the home, one must wonder if money is the true culprit.If money were the culprit, couples with substantial amounts of money would be blissfully happy. More often than not, money problems are a symptom of deeper problems that haven’t been addressed in the relationship. Issues of power and control can just as easily surface whether an abundance of money is present or not.Communicating values as they pertain to money is a necessary first step at the start of any relationship.
When do you start talking about money with the person you want to marry? Well, some guys try to bring up the topic (“Hey baby, check out my sports car”) before their first date. Funny how that never really seems to work out. If you really want to crash a romantic evening, just start talking about money. Any topic will do. How much you have, how much you don’t have, how much the movies keep going up in price. Early in the relationship you really don’t want to talk about money at all. However, once things get serious, it is actually one of the most important things to discuss, next to children.’
Do you know what the number one cause of divorce is in this country? Well, yes, two married people not getting along. But what causes them to not get along? The number one reason is money! That’s right, money is more a cause for divorce than sex or infidelity. Another terrible statistic is that almost half of all marriages end in divorce. That means most marriages probably have some sort of problem related to money.
The first thing you should do is figure out if you are a saver or a spender. The next thing to do is figure out if your spouse (or spouse to be) is a saver or a spender. Don’t worry about who is what yet. This isn’t like matching people according to what Chinese year they were born where a Saver should avoid the Spender and the Spender should avoid the Dragon. In many cases, opposites do attract. The good news is that it is okay to be different than your spouse. In fact, if you were both the same, there would be no point in having two of you.
Let me share a little story with you about balance. You see, my wife and I are a good balance for each other. She’s not a big spender, but early in our marriage she would have spent a lot more if it weren’t for me being the “checkbook police” as she put it. On the other hand, I would have been content living off of rice and water for two straight years so we would have been completely out of debt in no time (we had a lot of debt) and had established an emergency fund. Sure my way was more “mathematically” sound, but how boring is that? Who wants to spend the first two years of their marriage with no social outlet, no fun, and lousy food? That’s what graduate school is for!
Sometimes both people in the relationship are spenders. This is usually bad for a while, but almost always, one of the two becomes a saver. The relationship and the spending cannot last if both partners spend without regard for their financial well-being. Don’t always assume it is the husband that becomes the saver. In a little while we will talk about men and women and how they view finances.
It is also possible to have two savers in the relationship. Ironically, this sounds good at the outset, but unless they both get great pleasure from staring at their ever-increasing monthly account statements, this save-save thing can’t last either. If nothing else, the savers will begin to use their money for good causes. Some people don’t see giving money to charity as spending, but the point is they are using their money. For the savers, they may have found a way to use it that is both responsible and fulfilling. In most scenarios, however, one spouse begins to realize they have all of this money and they want to begin using it. The other spouse may become so obsessed with getting to the next level, whether it’s the next $1,000 or the next $100,000, they lose sight of the big picture. Saving to the point of destroying a marriage is just as bad as spending to the point of destroying a marriage.
If both of you are savers currently, you should talk about your goals. What will you do with your money? Is one of you saving to reach a certain goal, only to spend more once that goal is reached? Just because you are both savers now does not mean you will both continue to be savers. It is important to agree on your goals now, so when you do reach that point, whatever it may be, you will not argue as much about what to do with your money. If one spouse says, “I thought we were saving this money so we can travel around the world,” and the other spouse says, “I don’t want to spend it now, we’ve worked too hard to save it,” one of you could end up sleeping on the couch.
Learn to Talk About Your Money
Before you tie the knot, you should know a little bit about each other’s money habits. You also need to be able to agree, or agree to compromise, on many of your goals. Just because you are dreaming of the white picket fence and the family car doesn’t mean your spouse shares the same ideals. Perhaps he or she prefers the idea of living in the city and renting an apart or driving around in the newest sports car with all the accessories. The only way for your dreams to really become a reality is if you share them in the beginning and find some common ground.
You need to find out what each of you will be bringing to the table. If one spouse has $20,000 in debt while the other one has worked hard to save $20,000 in cash, there could be some resentment. After all, no matter how you look at it, any money used to pay off debt once you are married, is money that could have been used towards mutual goals instead, such as paying for your child’s education, or making a down payment on a house. When you combine the net worth of the two individuals in this example it comes out to zero. That might be nice to the person who had the debt, but it’s the equivalence of wiping out everything the other spouse had worked so hard to save for several years.
Once you learn what each person brings to the table, you will need to decide how to handle the debts and the savings. Decide now what percentage or dollar amount you want to try and save every month and how quickly you want to get out of debt. You should also decide how much you are willing to sacrifice to achieve those goals. Also, will you each contribute equally to the debt or will you have separate accounts and divide things up according to who brought in what debt, or who makes the most money, etc.
If you want to destroy your marriage as soon as possible, set up two separate accounts and keep everything separate. While it is possible to do this and have a successful marriage (i.e. you do not get a divorce), it is much more likely you will have a struggling, business-like, or failed marriage. Of course, before you are married, it makes sense to keep things separate. One way is to pay for things based on your salaries. For instance, if Bob makes $60,000 and Mary makes $40,000, then Bob pays for 60% of everything and Mary pays for 40%. This way they are each paying a proportional share of everything based on their income. If Bob thinks this is completely unfair, maybe Bob is not ready to be married yet and split things 50-50.
Call me a romantic, but I don’t think a marriage should be run like a business. If a couple wants to have two separate accounts with each person being responsible for certain items (such as the mortgage or the car payment or the groceries), then I am not really sure why the two are married. They could have just been roommates. Sometimes, when a married couple starts to have problems, that’s when they decide to start separating their accounts. That is the first step towards a divorce. May I suggest that you first seek counseling before going from a combined system to having two separate ones? It could save you in the long run.
With that said, I must add that there is nothing wrong with each person having their own spending account. In fact, it is recommended that each person maintain a small amount of their own individuality through a discretionary account they can use on whatever they want, without having to answer to their spouse. In a sense, we are talking about an allowance. Each spouse would get an allowance of a certain amount of money every month. They can spend it all at once, or save it to buy something larger, such as a plasma television or a motorcycle. With the exception of certain costs such as transportation or lunches, both spouses should receive the same amount of allowance, even if one spouse does not work or the other makes much more money than the other. After all, in most relationships one spouse works harder outside of the home, while the other one works harder in the home. Both are contributing to a successful marriage.
Sometimes, everything is not what it seems and arguments about money are not really arguments about money but instead an indication of neglect and a basic lack of attention and care for the marriage itself rather than the money itself. Bringing up money issues or splurging cash is a way to paper over deeper issues and it is key that you understand the root cause of the quarrel and address it, be it monetary or emotional.
Have you ever wondered why money is never an issue at the beginning of a relationship? The honeymoon period of a relationship is one in which nothing can go wrong but as reality catches up to the couple and the heady buzz of new found love starts to fade away, little things like living expenses, loans and running a house become more paramount. Perhaps it would be prudent to hire someone more adept at managing finances than yourself if you find budgeting and managing money more than you can handle.
Among males, earning money is deeply tied with a man’s sense of self-worth and it can be immensely emasculating to find that the woman in the relationship is the breadwinner in a dual-income family. Today’s families challenge the traditional roles of spouses, and ego issues could crop up due to this disparity in income. Wives might end up feeling guilty about one thing or another and husbands feel like they’re not the men they are. Set limit so that both partners feel valued with equal spending rights and all will be well.
The rat race
Ours is a world of the rat race and it becomes very easy for one partner to get caught up in the spending frenzy of the other and spend beyond their means. This is a walking debt trap and you must be careful not to fall for it as it will impact your union in a significant manner. The only way to deal with this is just be honest with your better half and work at eliminating these insecurities.
Not enough communication
When you see money leaking out of an account with not enough accountability for the money trail, it can spark discord. The key is to be honest and not tackle this with ego and anger but with a sense of clarity. What broke down? Has there been an increase in spending on the household or has something unexpected cropped up? Discuss things as a team and you’ll be amazed how easily things can work out when you have two heads on the job.