Unpacking money issues in your marriage

Posted on: 9 December 2015

For many marriages, money stress can adversely affect the relationships between spouses and, in some cases, even lead to divorce. It's important to keep in mind that many of the financial issues are based less in the financial situation itself and more in the emotional issues surrounding money. Unpacking the underlying issues can be answer to saving your marriage and reducing stress in your home.

Refusal to commit

If one of you is finding it hard to commit to large purchases, such as buying a house, this can stem from uncertainty about the long term stability of the relationship or of your life circumstances. This can often happen to people who moved regularly as children (such as military families) or people who have moved up social class/income level and still don't feel comfortable in this stage of their life. For people who grew up being evicted from homes and having parents lose work, it can be hard to adjust to feeling comfortable financially.

Miserly spending

If one of you is beyond frugal and embarrassingly miserly, this might come from a childhood without many resources or a lack of emotional security. Sometimes the hoarding of money, in a similar way to eating disorders, is tied to wanting to feel control and security. Holding onto money can provide a sense of security for people who did not feel that security (physical or emotional) and control in childhood. A counsellor can help you to explore the idea of having enough and being able to share and compromise in situations involving money.

Aggressive independence

For couples where there is absolutely no ability to share funds, this can lead to feelings of embarrassment if one party forgets a wallet or has an unexpected bill one week. This can stem from people who observe financial abuse growing up, where one partner uses their control of the household money to exert power over the other partner. A counsellor can help you to understand the reasons for this stress and help you to come up with reasonable ways to maintain independence whilst having some shared goals.

If you recognise some of these symptoms in your marriage, or feel that you have some issues in your marriage related to emotional spending, then it can be useful to get some couples counselling. This can help you to resolve the emotional issues underlying your money stress as well as improve overall communication.