Money Fights and Money Problems

Money Fights and Money Problems

It’s been said that “money fights and money problems” are one of the top causes of divorce. And as someone who went through a divorce myself, I can tell you those things are very stressful — especially if you have problems with debt, overspending, income, or even just very different points of view about how money should be handled in general.

Yet I don’t believe that relationships actually fail because of money issues. Instead, I think that money fights and money problems are more often symptoms of something deeper that may be wrong within the relationship — especially when they happen on a regular basis.

Some examples
Let’s look at budgeting, for example. If one partner is really into creating a detailed budget, and the other nods and smiles and agrees to the budget but then refuses to follow it in reality month after month, you’ve got a problem. And it’s not about the budget.

Yet the resulting fights often are. The one who blew the budget justifies their actions (maybe by stating that the budget is too strict, or by accusing the other person of trying to control them) and the one who stuck to the budget feels betrayed, exasperated, or like they have to treat the other person like a child in order to get ahead financially.

Get at the root of the problem
If you’re constantly fighting about money, it’s much better to get at the root of the problem. In the budgeting example, you’d want to look at why the budget isn’t being followed.

Ask questions like these:

Is it too strict? Is one partner trying to control the other? Or is there a disconnect with reality? (For example, expecting a family of four to get by on $100 a month in groceries.) Or is it a failure to be responsible? A lack of respect? A lack of information? Did one person grow up poor while they other didn’t? Or is it something more simple, such as not having a way to track your spending?

It could be any number of things, but you won’t know unless and until you dig deeper.  Brainstorm together in an effort to find out.

Eliminate the real problem
Once you’ve discovered the root cause behind the money fights, you can work on eliminating the real problem. That solution could mean anything from a simple fix to marriage or individual counseling.

Sometimes, of course, the problem is either something temporary (such as a job loss) or something difficult-but-obvious.

For example, if you’re out of work and it’s (understandably) causing stress on your marriage because your household income is reduced, it can help to recognize the temporary nature of the problem — or to find ways to bring in additional income. (Perhaps by changing careers, or starting a small business.)

On the other hand, if someone’s got a gambling problem, and they’re secretly running up credit cards and wiping the bank account clean, they’ve got to get help.  And you’ve got to take measures to protect yourself financially in the meantime, such as setting up accounts that can only be accessed by you.

Moving forward

Regardless of the money problem you may be facing, remember to go beyond the surface issues so that you can get at the root cause and take the steps necessary to fix it.  Money CAN be a useful tool that brings joy to your relationship. Working together and being on the same page can do wonders.

Guest Post Bio:Jackie Beck has written about personal finance and goals since 2006. She started The Debt Myth because she’s passionate about getting out of debt and helping others who want to do the same. Her debt app helps with that too!

Come hang out with Mr.CBB of Canadian Budget Binder on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Canadian Budget Binder and have my posts sent right to your email.

Photo Credits:Copyright (c) <a href=’’>123RF Stock Photos</a>

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  1. When ones kept in the dark about where the money is going. Not sharing the burden of bills & leaving one person to manage & worry over them. One chooses to put their head in the sand when it comes to bills.

  2. Sadly, we are both spenders. Fortunately we spend on different things and we’ve both recognized the problem. It took us a long time to get a handle on it but now we’re able to caution each other when we see a problem arising without it leading to a fight. Marriage is a constant learning process but I’m really glad that we’ve learned this lesson.

  3. I think we’re lucky – we’ve never really fought about money. Instead, we save our fights for mundane things, like whether the rag in the sink is a dish rag or a dish cloth. :p

    1. Same here, we have an amazing marriage. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is being on the same page with your wife. This is a thing of beauty! Stress free and loving life. Cheers Mate. Mr.CBB

  4. Very good post. Money is definitely a critical factor in any relationship, and even thought Mr. Canuck Buck and I generally are on the same page, we still have differing opinions on how much to spend on stuff (me – try not to buy things at all – him – as long as we can pay the bills, I can buy 10 more CDs). We have a pretty good system set up, but sometimes I still get annoyed at him. 🙂

    1. As long as you have that system set up and stick to it, you should be ok. There are always conversations pertaining to the budget for us but for the most part we are in sync. It can be difficult at times when we want to get something but we know we have to save for it. So when you get annoyed with him do you let him have it lol…Cheers mate for your comment. Mr.CBB

  5. Great post! It is so important for married couples to get on board with a budget! When you are agreeing to the financial decisions then you two are held accountable to each other. In my marriage there is no confusion about how much I can or can’t spend in a particular category, we decided on it last month and I have to stick to it or face my husband. It has been one of the best things for our marriage!
    -Nurse Frugal

  6. Great post! I agree that money can just be a symptom of something deeper. My ex husband and I had money issues but usually fought about other stuff instead so I guess it just depends on how many issues there were! lol We tried counselling for a few years (yes, years) and called it quits after almost 5 years of marriage but “bless the broken road” because then I met Ken and now I have my wonderful son 🙂

  7. Very nice post. I know money issues were what caused a lot of the trouble in my parents marriage and a few others I know as well. Now that my fiance and I are working with a budget and fun money, we don’t really argue about money. I can’t really think of one anyways! We both know that I am the one who likes to budget and set goals, so I set everything up but I do talk to him about it as it’s important for him to have a say. It’s really nice being on the same page as him.

  8. Thank you for sharing! I agree that the problem isn’t money, it’s merely the symptom.

    Retail therapy has filled the void for a large part of our society that once held our personal interactions and support. Technology is isolating us, but everyone still wants and needs a feel good switch at the end of a very difficult day. Is a text nearly as supportive as a loving voice at the end of the phone or even better a genuine hug from a friend?

    I spent a whole day with a girlfriend the other day, and then sadly realized that was the very first time we’d ever grabbed more than an hour or two together… in the entire history of our relationship. Where had the days gone when we pitched in & spent all day with a friend helping them with a project? Remember when the women used to do canning together to turn a long day on their feet into something more enjoyable just by virtue of sharing the day with a friend? Have you ever considered that with every canned good we buy at a grocery store, we slip further & further away from the bonding with our fellow women? Old fashioned I know but 40 years ago I had the privilege of enjoying a communal approach to agrarian living. Maybe all that is old is not necessarily bad?

    Well all need to feel connected, supported, loved and cherished but more and more we live in isolation neither offering nor receiving these gifts. If we are married and we don’t find these gifts within the marriage, that can trigger a cry for help in the form of overspending. It’s twisted, but negative attention can be better than no attention at all.

    I agree that we need to find a way to communicate with our partners to make joint financial goals that we can both work towards achieving, both celebrate when we get there or cry together when we have to postpone our dream, whatever the reason. It’s great to be a first round draft choice for “the team”, sitting on the bench watching the financial game go on without us is lonely and not surprisingly triggers revolt.

    The bottom line though is that it takes two people to make a budget work in a marriage…if one party refuses to cooperate, refuses to change, refuses to seek help – you can’t force them to be different. It doesn’t matter what the problem is that is underlying their failure to communicate the real problem. The passive-aggressive money spending behaviour is screaming, “I am not happy!”. The declaration is not sufficient to effect a change. Only change brings change.

    At the end of the day, it takes willingness on the part of both partners to do whatever is necessary for the sake of the family. I also agree, individual, couple or financial goal may be required to break the old habits that are not working. Unfortunately, willingness to change appears to not be the norm in 50% of the marriages today and if they don’t end in divorce, you might very well wish they had.

    I have a friend that has been emotionally controlled by an abusive husband all their 30+ years of marriage by his failure to get out of debt and set any money aside. He’s approaching retirement with $100,000 in debt and not a sous in the bank or anywhere else. Did they each play their parts…sure they did. He made sure that there was never any money to leave the marriage, and despite the offer of assistance if she ever wanted it, she chose to remain in her marriage being emotionally and verbally battered.

    If after your very best effort to root out the “real” issue you are no further ahead either because of non-compliance on the part of your spouse, you have a choice. Either you accept your partner and your financial future EXACTLY as they are, or you don’t. What we haven’t heard for a very, very long time is that we are each completely responsible for our choices.

    1. Wow, thanks for that response Mary although I expect nothing less from you as you are very well informed. You know you are right about being on the same page in a relationship. I’m sure you agree some people want the house, picket fence and the dog before they know each other and what each others goals in life are. Sex is not enough to say I LOVE YOU, be with me forever.
      When you say “but negative attention can be better than no attention at all” it’s true. People who are bored, lack attention take to spending and don’t even realize what they are doing. New makes them feel revived and like a new person.

      I say it often but it’s very important in a relationship to make sure #1- you are in love with each other 2- Your goals are in line with each other 3- You both understand budgets and finance and plan to stick to them. If you can’t even get through the easy stuff no amount of babies will hold a relationship together.

      Thanks Mary

  9. Nice post! I think most money problems are just a disconnect in individuals attitudes towards money. One of the happiest marriages I know is a friend of mine and her hubby who are absolutely in sync with everything when it comes to money.

    1. Mrs.CBB and I are totally in sync when it comes to money. She actually watches more than I do but that’s ok as I think it’s a good balance in the marriage. We never fight about money but that’s because we’ve been on the same page since we were young about $$. Mr.CBB

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