When Money Becomes A Problem For Couples
Money can easily become an issue in a marriage when one spouse spends more than the couple earns.
Whether you are married or not and live together but aren’t connecting with your finances the way you should be then you may want to consider your options.
Often times when a money issue blows up lying about missing money or where it was spent becomes an even bigger relationship issue.
Whether the spending habit was there before the union or it occurs as the marriage progresses it must be addressed before it spirals out of control.
What do you call a person who spends too much money?
I call them someone who isn’t tuned into their finances and in some cases, greedy.
- I think my husband spends too much money.
- I think my wife spends too much money.
Both of the above statements have been in my inbox many times over the years from frantic readers of this blog who feel they have lost control of their financial situation.
As I was walking to my car the other day leaving a grocery store my eye caught a woman walking back towards her car.
Her husband was waiting at the car as she was throwing her hands up in the air obviously annoyed, as she approached their vehicle.
I heard her say ‘I thought we had money on that card’.
I am assuming she was unsuccessful paying for their grocery bill which brought up a lot of issues with her spouse.
Clearly the first one was frustration and anger which she did NOT hide from the public.
Her husband with an irritated look on his face got out of the car and proceeded to head back into the store with her.
Not knowing their story and why the expected funds were not available I can only assume that there was a lack of communication or an oversight with their finances.
I don’t know how their story ended and continued to get into my car but it reminded me of friends who had money issues in their relationship.
Unfortunately this is also the case for many other couples whether it’s a marriage or a common law relationship.
Money and Divorce
Money fights and problems over finances are all too common in relationships and sadly are one of the top reasons many marriages end up in a divorce.
While I can say that fixing the money problems would not have saved my marriage looking back I think about how I could have dealt with our money problems more effectively.
We commonly hear the phrase ‘my wife spends too much money’ though in many situations the husband is guilty of this too.
Secret shopping in a relationship happens all the time and if you aren’t on the same page with your spouse financially this could easily cause a rift in the marriage if your spending gets out of control.
Trust is after all the basis of any relationship and when you break that money trust expect some major problems along the way.
Spouse spending habits
It is often advised to have the money talk with your partner before you get married so that you know what you are getting yourself into.
The last thing you want is to get married and learn after the fact that your new spouse is swimming in debt that they decided not to openly share before saying your vows.
Oddly enough many people are ashamed of their debt and they say nothing but this is the worst thing you can do and not a great start to a relationship.
While this is a great conversation before walking down the aisle spending habits often change and for various reasons.
You may eventually find yourself with a spouse who just spends too much money.
Nothing in life is guaranteed after all which is why talking about money with your partner is a MUST not something you wait to do until the time is right.
Excessive shopping can be a ‘drug’ for some people used as a form of therapy to combat stressful situations in their lives or as a result of other underlying issues.
Money is a big concern for couples and when money problems arise frustrations begin to take over your rational thinking.
What happens after this is the blame-game which can be very dangerous or even fatal to some relationships.
It’s always the other person’s fault that the bank account is drained or that the credit cards are maxed out.
While you may know that your spouse’s outrageous spending habits are destroying your finances how you choose to approach the situation may also affect the outcome.
Nobody likes to feel attacked whether they are the cause of a problem or not. Being aware of your tone of voice and your approach to the conversation will start you off on a better foot then blaming your spouse for causing the money problems.
Instead of saying ‘You are spending too much money and it’s making us broke’ consider saying ‘I have noticed we are struggling to pay our bills lately, what can we do together to improve this?’
Avoid ‘you’ statements and you may find you get a less defensive response and more of an open mind to fixing the problem, rather than putting up their guard because you attacked them.
How can you help someone who is spending too much money?
You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped but if you are both on board there are many ways to get back on track financially.
Creating a Simple Budgeting System
If budgeting is something that you already do you may consider a different approach to it. Perhaps your understanding of budgeting is not where it is as and a mini refresher course on budgeting is all you both need.
While a budget is a very effective tool for managing money in a relationship both sides have to be on board for it to work.
Set your goals together, decide as a couple where you both want to be financially in 5 or 10 years and make a plan.
Review your budget together often, and discuss where you may need to make improvements.
Help each other to stay on track by taking a look at how you are doing with sticking to your budget.
If you are not meeting your goals as a result of overspending then this is a good time to address how this overspending is affecting your budget and your long-term goals.
Controlling Your Access to Money
If your spouse is willing to work towards a solution then you have to decide what steps you are going to take.
Understanding what kind of spender you are will go a long way in designing a budgeting plan that will work for the both of you.
If you are the reserved spender in the relationship consider coming up with a weekly dollar amount as a cash allowance that includes all money that is required for necessary expenses.
Leave a little room for miscellaneous spending and explain that once that money is gone it’s gone.
Take full control of your money and if you have to use a jar budgeting system so you can physically see the money.
I have a friend who often complains about their financial situation to me although she’s not interested in fixing it.
She’s a stay-at home mom and when I offer her any advice she responds with, “well it’s his money he can do whatever he wants with it“.
What I try to tell her is that her job at home as a full-time mother is just as challenging if not more.
When you get married, buy a house together and start a family I strongly believe that ‘my money is your money and your money is my money’.
If your spouse’s overspending is affecting the quality of life for your family then consider taking away all debit and credit cards.
Moving forward you can be the one in charge of distributing your money between everyday living expenses, bills and their cash allowance.
While you want to avoid making them feel like a kid, that may in fact be what you feel like you are doing, but so be it.
If your spouse cares for the well-being of your relationship and/or family they should be willing to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions.
Until they are able to understand where the problems are and how it is affecting your lives it will be hard to convince them that they need to change.
Again consider your tone and choice of words when having these discussions.
Relationship Problems Over Money
Is it worth staying in the relationship?
You need to decide where to draw the line in the relationship. While everyone makes mistakes and sometimes they need to be taken as a learning experience, how many chances should one get when a problem has been identified and they refuse to be part of the solution?
At what point do you call it quits?
- Is it a healthy relationship
- Is it worth destroying your credit/future
- Are you jeopardizing your happiness?
You deserve it, money shouldn’t have to be a problem in a relationship, though it can be all too often.
While no one really likes to talk about money the more often you communicate about it and share the financial responsibilities the better off you will be.
Unfortunately for some couples in this situation divorce may be the only answer if you decided to try to fix the problem and between the two of you are unable to find a solution.
If your spouse is unable to acknowledge the impact that their careless spending is having on your life together than it may be in your best interest to go your separate ways.
Discussion: What advice can you offer to someone who has a spouse that spends too much money?
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