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Making finances less emotive in marriage

Sunday May 10 2020

FINANCE

Learning how to manage your financial problems together will strengthen your marriage. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

CHRIS HART
By CHRIS HART
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Most couples argue a lot about money, no matter how much they have.

So is there any way to make your finances less of an issue in your marriage?

Your aim should be to manage your money as a team as much as you can because couples who do this are always much happier than those who don’t.

But that’s never easy because money means such different things to different people. In fact, your attitudes towards money matters reflect your most basic feelings about the world.

Some people just hate talking about it. Others are completely relaxed. Some people can never have enough, while to others it’s just a tool.

Some are compulsive savers, others can’t save a shilling. Some are OK with debt. Others are scared of it. Some just live to shop, others stop shopping the moment they have the basics.

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And there’s nothing logical about any of that. Because decisions about money are not simply conscious, rational choices, but also involve unconscious, emotional feelings that you have little control over.

Which means that when couples disagree about money, the argument often reflects deeper issues between them, such as power, independence, security, commitment and trust.

BE OPEN

The best way to avoid arguing about money is to start talking about it before you get married. Because for some reason it’s easier then.

But actually it’s never too late to start. So be completely open and honest with one another, and lay all your cards on the table.

Explore what money means to each of you. Discuss all your hopes and dreams. Maybe you want to study some more for example, or buy a house.

How might your ambitions be financed? Make a budget together, and think through how you’ll manage the money.

Discuss the housekeeping, individual spending money, savings and whether to have a joint bank account or not.

Agree on whatever works for you, and start doing at least some of it straight away. But don’t be surprised at how difficult it can be, to get things like this started.

Because trying to change each other’s spending habits can be very difficult. That’s because your attitudes towards money probably developed when you were young and single.

FIND VALUE

When money was an important part of your feelings of self worth, status, and the ability to develop your own style.

But eventually, everyone comes to realise that there’s more to life than a wallet full of cash. So if you want to be happy, it’s best just to regard money as a basic necessity, and not to spend all your time lusting after it.

Instead, concentrate on building the best possible relationship with your spouse. Lots of little kindnesses, compliments and attention to one another, will add far more to your happiness than expensive nights out or flashy cars.

And learning how to manage your financial problems together will strengthen your marriage — which is actually the most valuable thing you possess.

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