Appearances can be deceiving. Recently, my cousin told me that he has filed for divorce from his spouse. That is sad as he had a happy marriage, at least that was the impression we get whenever they attend family functions.
He told me that their numerous conflicts over financial issues got out of hand. To be sure, he is not alone in citing money problems for marital strife. Sometimes, arguing about money on a regular basis could be due to other issues being unresolved.
These core issues will haunt the marriage without a satisfactory solution. My own experience is that managing a marriage requires effort, it is a merger of two people with different habits and personalities. Thus, whenever there are disputes, open communication, understanding and patience are required.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself before the situation gets ugly:
1. Is there a communication breakdown?
Don't let your spouse second guess your thoughts, desires and preferences. Communicate effectively as guessing often leads to misunderstanding, and subsequently hurt feelings and even resentment.
Choosing the right timing is half the battle won. If either of of you are already upset or angry, communicating about finances is usually futile as your negative emotions spillover which usually lead to harsh exchanges of words. You should broach sensitive issues in a way that is comfortable for both of you.
Try writing down your concerns first before lashing out in an emotional manner. Be clear about what you need from your spouse - is it paying for a big ticket item, planning a family budget or balancing the check book? Set a positive tone and good results will follow.
2. Are you hurt or resentful?
Sometimes, it's easier to argue about money than to admit our hurt feelings. We may have unknowingly hurt our spouse, but because they bottled it up, we are unaware of our insensitive actions.
The result is that the hurt continues and the other party vent their resentment by over-reacting to every issues. Instead of letting such negative emotions hinder your relationship, gather the courage to deal with the hurt.
Bring it out in the open in a healthy way. Do it before tackling money issues. That way you'll be able to discuss your finances without the extra burden of emotional baggage.
3. Are you afraid of money facts?
Are you afraid to talk about money because you don't want your spouse to discover that you spent money foolishly, didn’t pay the bill when you were supposed to, or have kept other financial secrets?
Trust has to be established in a marriage before sensitive and important issues like finances can be addressed properly. However dishonesty destroys trust. As they say, once bitten twice shy; when trust is destroyed, your spouse will not rely on you for future decisions, which can leave you feeling upset, and the cycle repeats itself.
Never make a significant financial decision without talking to your spouse. If you've been hiding something, the real issue is not about finances, it's about being honest.
In order to lay a smooth foundation in marriage for you to build your financial future, try communicating in a clear and loving manner, getting rid of emotional baggage and embracing honesty today.