Marriage & Finance – An Introduction & Study
Finances… it’s a killer of marriages, can be horribly frustrating to implement, and can cause intense conversations and contention in the home.
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Are you currently having relationship problems? Are you going to relationship therapy right now because of marriage troubles? If so, you may have some negative feelings rooting from finances in your relationship.
See…marriage and finances are intertwined. You can’t say “I do” without having at least thought about money and what’s in store for the future. Furthermore, you can’t live together without having to deal with questions like:
- Should we have separate bank accounts?
- Who will pay the bills?
- What will we do when one of us loses a job?
These are questions that all couples ought to talk about, ideally before marriage (but it’s never too late)!
An Interesting Study
Sonya Britt, an assistant professor of family studies and human services and program director of personal financial planning at Kansas State University, conducted a study on money and marriage.
She found that couples who argued about money and finances early on in their relationship were at a greater risk for divorce, regardless of income, net worth, or even the amount of debt.
She goes on to talk about how marriage problems stem from money, “Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce. It’s not children, sex, in-laws, or anything else. It’s money, for both men and women.”
Britt conducted a study using longitudinal data from more than 4,500 couples as part of the National Survey of Families and Households. Here are some of the other highlight discoveries:
- “Arguments about money are the top predictor for divorce because it happens at all levels.”
- It takes longer to recover from money arguments than any other kind of argument because they tend to be more intense.
- Couples use harsher language with each other, and the arguments last longer.
- Aside from a negative effect on children, increased stress leads to a further decrease in financial planning that could help better the situation.
You can find more about this study at Wiley Online Library.
Learn from the Experts
So it’s no surprise that financial discord may lead directly to divorce, but finances can also bring a couple together. In fact, a healthy marriage is one that embraces the financial component of that relationship. This is specifically great advice to newlyweds, who have an opportunity to start fresh.
But even veterans can learn how to implement finances into their marriage.
For that reason, we have brought on a number of marriage experts to discuss how they believe couples can better integrate finances into our marriages.
The Question Asked
Here is the question that was presented to each of these marriage leaders:
We all understand that finances are an integral part of any marriage. In what ways do you agree with that statement, and how do you suggest we better integrate finances into our marriage?
Get ready! These marriage leaders have shared some fantastic marriage advice quotes with us. So read on and feel free to take some notes… this is some of the best marriage advice out there! As always, there will be an action step at the end.
Paul Batura, VP of Communications for Focus on the Family – “Indeed, disagreements about money can create huge problems between husband and wife, but the need for good communication is even more important. In fact, it’s absolutely fundamental to the health and longevity of a relationship.
In the first place, couples must make up their minds to be on the same team when it comes to finances. They can start by agreeing that they both want the same things concerning money – a certain amount of security and a certain amount of freedom.
Those amounts may not be the same, but the general goals are. Above all, they will want to emphasize the health of their relationship over the details of accounting. Once they’re on the same team, it will be easier to come up with creative solutions to any disagreements concerning finances.”
Amberly from A Prioritized Marriage – “It would be great if money weren’t such an important part of our lives, but unfortunately it is. We can’t find very many things in life that don’t cost money. Every day, most of us go someplace where we use the skills and knowledge that we have to do something that helps us make money.
If we want to have a decent life, you need money. So finances are just as much a part of our routine as brushing our teeth, sleeping, eating and breathing. But money, mishandled or spent in a way that is not agreed on by both spouses can cause contention and in some cases, even ruin a marriage.
Lori Lowe, from Marriage Gems, has been married to her husband, Ming, for more than 20 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It’s available on Amazon and in various e-book formats.
“Integrating finances into our marriages can be done in a number of ways and depends so much on the couple and how they want to manage their financial lives. I feel it’s ideal for a couple to work toward agreed financial goals that involve saving, spending and giving.
However, I think some couples may prefer joint checking accounts, while others prefer to have some personal autonomy. One spouse may have the usual responsibility for bill paying, or they may switch off and divide up the bills.
Regardless of the specifics of how things are done each month, both should be aware and informed of how the household is managed in case of emergency, and both should have access to all accounts. In our case, we find a financial expert helps us in long-term planning, investment decisions and an annual financial checkup.”
The Dating Divas from The Dating Divas – “I would say, budget, budget, budget! The last time I checked, finances were in the top 5 of reasons couple’s get divorced and that is so sad because it is totally preventable!
Finances can be hard at first because both spouses grew up with different financial backgrounds and each has made their own financial habits. But once you and your spouse commit to working on your finances together, it makes a world of difference!
Communication is KEY! Make sure both spouses are on board and understand what you have both committed to. Even if it’s just agreeing you each get a set amount of “fun money”.
Talking finances with your spouse should be a recurring conversation. Circumstances change and expenses pop up. Just keep your spouse in the loop! My husband and I talk finances every other day! It’s an open conversation. We both know how much the other makes, how much is in the bank, and how much is in our date jar.”
Scott LaPierre – Pastor and author of Marriage God’s Way – “Finances typically constitute one of the three biggest problems in marriage (along with parenting and in-laws). While money is amoral or non-spiritual, our relationship to money is moral and spiritual.
Wealth is one of our most important stewardships and as a result, what we do with it, says a lot about our relationships with the Lord. In the marriage relationship, husbands and wives need to agree with each other on purchases to maintain the unity and oneness God desires.”
Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT from Love and Life Toolbox – “When it comes to finances, the first thing a couple needs to do is understand how they each view money. Different upbringings, family cultures and experiences can influence a person’s beliefs.
A couple with good communication skills will be better equipped to discuss this often challenging topic. Ideally they are able to respectfully dig into the meaning they each have around money, not having it, when it’s enough, if it’s ever enough as well as saving and spending habits.
At that point, if they learn there are significant differences, ideally they can find compromises that are acceptable to both.”
Madeleine Mason, MBPsS from PassionSmiths – “Finances are an integral part of any marriage, especially if there are mortgages and loans involved and there is a joint responsibility and liability.
Marriage is very much a team effort when it comes to finances, as you share your daily lives and expenses – you need to have a conversation about who pays for what, how, when etc. You need to be able to budget for your lifestyle and there needs to be agreements in place in terms of income, workload and whether children will be a part of the picture.
In fact this conversation should arise before a proposal for marriage occurs. The most typical and desirable set-up are joint accounts where there is full transparency and access to accounts, unless your spouse has an addiction (i.e. gambling or shopping) or is mentally unstable to manage finances.
In these cases, the spouse in question must relinquish access to accounts to their partner. Nevertheless, an open honest conversation is still required. The best way forward it to start off with a conversation about what kind of lifestyle do you want and how to budget for it.”
Chelsea Avery from The New Wife Style – “Money is one of the leading causes of martial strife and it is often because couples don’t talk about it.
I suggest setting a monthly “money date” where you are able to talk about each of your histories with money, current situation and financial goals. Approach the money date with an open mind, seek understanding and most importantly – don’t be hungry!”
Eric Viets from PreEngaged – “How a couple handles their finances either draws them closer together or places a wedge between them. How we spend (or save) our money shines a light on our priorities and goals; so, when a couple cannot see eye-to-eye on where the money should go, it reveals a hiccup (or a major divide) in their communication.
We believe both parties in each couple should have a say in the household budget, but one person should primarily be in charge of creating the budget – whoever in the couple is more suited to that task (i.e., detail-oriented). Once the budget is created, both people should sit down and discuss the budget, make changes, and then agree to abide by the plan.
If a change is made to the budget, both people need to agree on it. This agreement is important as once the couple agrees, a deviation from the budget is no longer just a financial issue, but an honesty and integrity issue between each other. This is a task which requires maturity and sacrifice. If a couple can speak openly and remain a team when it comes to finances, they can communicate about anything.”
Susie Collins from Susie And Otto – “Yes, finances are an integral part of any marriage. Our suggestion for better integrating is to learn to come at it with openness, love and communication. The key is to listen carefully to what’s important to the other person and to honestly share what’s important to you.
Once you do that, you have the opportunity to let time, openness and connection make changes in both of you where each of you start to see that maybe there’s a better way then “my way” or “your way”–that maybe there’s a third alternative you can’t see right now. It’s an opportunity for deeper love and understanding.”
Tami Myer from Manna For Marriage – “Finances are a critical issue for married couples. There are some great resources to help you learn about different money styles and healthy financial practices. Check out the experts, such as Crown Financial, Dave Ramsey, Ron Blue, or PowerOverLife.
But most importantly, remember this: your spouse is priceless, worth more than the carpet you are discussing or the vacation you are debating. You cannot afford rude remarks or dishonoring behavior–cut those completely out of your budget! Splurge on kindness, and invest heavily in your friendship together. Your spouse is always the real treasure.”
Kailei Pew from Two Best Friends in Love – “I absolutely agree that finances are an integral part of marriage. I truly believe that it is possible to have open and positive discussions about finances in marriage and to feel financial peace as a couple.
Something that has worked well for us is to share the responsibility of managing the family finances. At the beginning of our marriage and each time we’ve had a job change, we have sat down and established a budget (mostly following the Dave Ramsey method).
Our budget includes everything from donating to our church to diapers, rent to groceries and everything in between. It is important that both spouses are on board with the budget. If one thinks they are spending too much or too little in a particular area, it will lead to discord and discontent. After establishing a budget that both spouses feel good about, I believe that both should take an active role in managing that budget.
Establish who will pay the bills and when. Who will do the grocery shopping? Who will buy the diapers and other baby/children items? Etc. In splitting up the responsibility each spouse will take an active role in the family finances. Each evening we review any expenditures and add them to our spreadsheet which tracks our spending for the month and keeps us within our budget. That way there are no surprises at the end of the month and we are both open and transparent with our spending habits.
One final note is to establish a savings as soon as possible. Emergencies or unplanned expenditures will arrive (I’m looking at you, $500 car repair…..) and it will be much easier to stay calm and collected through those events when you have a little something set aside. ”
Kristen Stone from Families That Stick – “It’s such an important topic for an adult, but especially for two adults needing to work together.
It brings out so many of our insecurities, desires, etc… it impacts everything. So, if you can get on the same page with money, it’s such a blessing!
It shows a spirit of GENEROSITY to build a budget with your spouse, because it’s usually a compromise of two very different ways of thinking about money.
One of the healthiest moments of our marriage happened when we re-framed how we viewed each other’s spending styles and began working together towards our financial goals.”
Elle from Couple Money – “While money is not the most important thing in life, it can be a huge source of stress and frustration in a marriage.
I’m a big supporter of couples having open and honest discussions about their finances. I encourage money dates, where spouses regularly check in to not only review their numbers, but really talk about their goals and what they want their money to do. It’s a tool they can use to build a life together. ”
Charlene from Charlene Maugeri – “Finances. They’re often a point of contention for couples. A lot of fights start with money or at least involve money somehow.
But what you have to remember is you’re a team. You need to work together, not fight against each other. Set a budget and stick to it, but help each other do so. It’s easier said than done, but just keep the teamwork mindset and things will be a lot less painful.”
Beth Steffaniak from Messy Marriage – “I believe that how a couple handles finances in marriage is incredibly important to the stability and unity of their marriage.
In my own marriage, it wasn’t until we committed to keeping a realistic budget, as well as getting completely out of debt that we understood the toll that financial mismanagement was taking on our marriage. But we couldn’t have figured this out on our own. We needed others with financial expertise to help us dig out of that hole.
Now we have one less issue to contend with in marriage and so much more financial freedom to enjoy. My only regret is that we didn’t take those steps earlier in our marriage. ”
Jack & Janet from Redeeming Marriages – “We do believe money is an integral part of marriage. It is one of the key indicators that shows if the marriage is built on unity, or not.
Money gives husband and wife the opportunity to communicate and work together through all aspects of their life together. They will face money decisions together from the beginning of planning their wedding all the way until the end of their lives together. So, we believe couples should use their money as a tool to help build their unity and not as a weapon that brings division and competition.”
Camille Whiting from Friday We’re In Love – “Finances can make or break a relationship! The stress of wondering if you’ll have enough to cover bills is a very real thing for many marriages! On the flip side, getting finances in order and being on the same page creates security, trust, and peace in a relationship. Finances will always be there, and how you tackle them as a team can make or break your relationship!
Megan from Megan Weks – “Finances play a major role in our marriages and can be a source of friction and stress if not approached with care. Running a household is like running a business.
ACTION STEP: Have a finance talk with your spouse, finance, girlfriend/boyfriend, partner…whomever it is (even consider having a “money date”. Take a look at these great tips and talk about what you want to do today to start better integrating finances into your marriage!
Final Thoughts on Marriage & Money
A big thanks to each of these marriage leaders for sharing their thoughts with us! They shared some great marriage advice for newlyweds, and marriage veterans alike.
As always, making small adjustments and corrections with your finances are what do the most good. It’s the small things that bring about huge impacts in life.
Marriage and money are indeed connected. Let finances bring you and your spouse together…not apart! Turn your financial situation around by implementing finances better into your marriage and getting on the same page as your spouse!
Managing money is a key life skill that puts YOU in control… and once you have that control, then you truly have POWER OVER LIFE!
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