It’s important to discuss financial issues with your spouse before and after you get married. With time and patience, you can identify your fears and concerns about money matters. It’s also key that you and your partner pay attention to the red flags of financial infidelity, such as hiding debts or secrets accounts, which contribute to marital problems. Stress related to finances is a leading cause of divorce.
Justin, 48, and Serena, 45, have been married fourteen years and have three children. Since Justin is self-employed, their income varies and sometimes they run short of meeting their financial obligations and have to dip into their savings. They have a monthly budget but don’t discuss it often and both feel that money is the biggest stress in their marriage.
Full disclosure is highly recommended so that you and your partner can have a strong partnership. Couples need to share details about their past and current debts. Keep in mind that you will be discussing emotions as well as numbers. For instance, Justin said to Serena, “I felt so hurt when I found out about your credit card debt that you were hiding from me.” Sharing details about your past and current debts, as well as spending habits, can build trust between partners.
Most couples find that talking about finances on a day to day basis as expenses come up is an effective way to communicate. On the other hand, it’s a good idea to devote about 30 to 45 minutes a week to discussing money matters. By being intentional about these discussions, issues don’t get swept under the rug or lead to secrecy.
Make a Commitment to Change
If there is any kind of financial infidelity, it’s important for the partner who is being secretive or dishonest to promise to stop doing the behavior that is problematic. They must offer their partner reassurance that they have made a commitment to change.
If this is your problem, you may need to do this by showing your partner bank and/or credit card statements. It is vital that you commit yourself to doing whatever is necessary to rebuild trust with your partner and to rid yourself of debt and spending habits that are contributing to any financial problems in your remarriage. Consider counseling sessions as a couple to gain support and a neutral party’s feedback until you see improvement in your communication about money matters.
If someone has a gambling addiction, they will need to seek specialized treatment for this problem before couples counseling can be effective. In any case, feelings of anger, betrayal, and grief need to dealt with if a couple is going to regain trust. Keep in mind that it takes time for couples to do this and couples counseling can be highly beneficial in this process.
Couples often underestimate the challenges of marriage and buy into the myth that love will conquer all and avoid talking about finances because it stirs up conflict. Critical junctures in a marriage such as buying a new home, starting a new job, or adding one or more children to the family can spark anxiety about money. If couples have not worked through trust issues in the early phases of their marriage, they may have difficulty being open about finances.
Remember there is no “right” or “wrong” way to deal with money matters and it’s a good idea to focus more on listening and give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Remember that feelings are not “good” or “bad,” they are just real emotions that need to identified, processed, and shared effectively without blaming your partner so you can rebuild trust, love and intimacy. Couples who want to have a successful marriage that endures the test of time practice full disclosure about finances so they can reach financial goals and create a positive vision for their future.
Follow Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award-winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry