Surveys indicate that up to 75 percent of married couples identify money as the primary cause of marital conflict. It is important to realize that lots of money does not guarantee relationship bliss nor does lack of wealth doom a couple to a lifetime of hostility.
Severe financial battles are more often a symptom of overall relationship problems as opposed to the cause of them. Money becomes the focal point of so many couples’ battles because relationship strife tends to stem from struggles for power and control. Money is the universal symbol of power in modern society.
There are three common, yet unhealthy behavior patterns that demonstrate the role of money as “power”. First is power spending. Power spenders spend money to prove that they can. The power spender often feels as if their partner is trying to control them and they spend in order to prove their autonomy. Revenge Spending is another unhealthy pattern. The revenge spender spends money to “get back at” their partner for a real or imagined betrayal. The third unhealthy tendency is for one member of a couple to assume all responsibility for financial issues within a family. This is often due to a person’s need to feel “all powerful” and to have greater control or dominance over their partner.
Tips for not letting money tear you and your partner apart include:
1. Understand and respect you and your partner’s individual views of money.
2. Comprehend how your fiscal behaviors impact your partner.
3. Find ways to share fiscal responsibilities and decision making.
4. Know your motives for spending and making certain financial decisions.
5. When faced with financial stressors look for ways to support each other and solve problems together.
Jeff Jabick, LMHC , PTC