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Don’t Let Money Problems Ruin Your Marriage

Don’t Let Money Problems Ruin Your Marriage October 31, 2021

During a recent counseling session, Karen and Joshua, in their late thirties, spoke about their finances, and explained how their debt was causing stress in their relationship. Since they are both self-employed and were paid sporadically, it was easy for debt to build up and most of their discussions about money turned into arguments over the past few years. Married for over a decade and raising two children, they had drifted apart and the last thing they wanted to talk about at the end of a long day was finances.

When a couple has poor communication skills and financial stress, this can be disastrous for a marriage because it destroys trust and intimacy. It can also set the stage for financial infidelity.

Karen put it like this: “When I found out Josh had a $10,000 balance on his visa it hurt because we’re going to have a hard time paying that off. It bothers me that he didn’t trust me enough to tell me.”

Financial problems are a leading cause of divorce and can drive a wedge between couples. Sometimes, financial infidelity has been going on for years and goes unnoticed and in other cases, a partner may suspect it’s happening but use rationalization or denial because they have trouble believing that their loved one would be deceitful.

It’s not uncommon for couples to withhold financial information or avoid full disclosure due to mistrust, resentment, insecurity, anger, or emotional sensitivities due to past betrayal.

Like many couples, Karen and Joshua avoided disclosing their finances to one another and since they had separate checking accounts, it was easy for them to keep secrets and withhold important financial information from each other.

Truth be told, when couples are dishonest and one or both partners try to gain control or achieve security by withholding important information about finances, this can destroy the fabric of your relationship. Financial infidelity can be defined as consciously or deliberately lying about money, credit, and/or debt. It’s not occasionally forgetting to record a check or debit card transaction.

How to Deal Effectively with Financial Issues

The first step in dealing with financial problems in your marriage is being vulnerable and honest with your partner about money. Admitting that there is a problem and a willingness to get help by a professional is essential to saving a marriage with financial infidelity or stress.

Both people in a relationship need to be honest about their financial mistakes in the present and in the past, so that they can truly repair the damage done. That means bringing out every statement, credit card receipt, bill, credit card, checking or savings account statement, or any loan, or other evidence of spending.

Next, both partners need to make a commitment to work through issues together. If any financial infidelity occurred, the person who was betrayed needs time to adjust to the details of the breach of trust and this does not happen overnight.

Full Disclosure

Keep in mind that you will be discussing emotions as well as numbers when you discuss finances. For instance, Karen said to Joshua, “I felt so hurt when I found out about your high credit card balance. I love you and hope we can talk more openly about finances.” It’s important to share details about your past and current debts, as well as spending habits. Full disclosure is highly recommended so that your partner can begin to rebuild trust.

In order to deal effectively with bringing debt into your marriage, you must make a commitment to having regular and open dialogues about money. Practicing full disclosure and developing a budget plan geared toward a debt-free marriage will allow you to achieve financial success and happiness. In order to do this effectively, I recommend that couples contact a trusted financial advisor and/or read books about developing a budget plan, in addition to have weekly conversations about finances.

Never keeping secrets about money and practicing full disclosure is a big plus! This is a great place for couples to start if they strive to improve their marriage and financial well-being.

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Her book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website. Feel free to ask a question here.

Terry’s book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was  published by Sounds True in February of 2020.

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