Why are Financial Decisions Such a Pain Point in Marriage?

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submitted by Tim Goodwin

A lot changes after saying “I do,” including your finances. No longer are you the sole captain of your monetary voyage through life. Instead, you now share that leadership with another person. Someone who has their own experiences and habits when it comes to money. And that meeting of worlds is why financial decision-making is the leading cause of tension in most marriages.

So, you understand the circumstances, but now what?

1. Assume the best

Even for couples who have been married for years, getting on the same page about money takes work. Maybe he’s the impulsive shopper who gets tempted at check-out. Maybe she’s the budget stickler who has no tolerance for any spontaneous spending. These personality traits probably predate the marriage, so you shouldn’t expect them to change – nor should you force your partner to. So when these behaviors influence decision-making, remember that it’s part of who they are, and likely not a malevolent attempt to rock the financial boat.

2. Keep communicating

It may be a cliché, but it’s the truth – communication is key. If you’re not regularly talking about money with your spouse, you can be certain that there will be conflict. And “regularly” is the critical part of that sentence. It can’t be a one-time conversation. It has to an ongoing dialogue. So if you’re needing some help starting out, check out these tips.

3. Seek out counsel

Even if you assume the best and talk about money all the time, disagreements can and still will happen. These arguments can be a source of shame, but they don’t have to be. Reach out to couples you both admire and ask them for advice. Or, if you’d prefer to keep it private, consider meeting with a marriage counselor who has experience helping couples resolve financial miscommunications.

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Marriage is never easy. Financial decisions are rarely simple. And when you put them together, it’s an almost certain recipe for tension. But that’s not the end of the story because you don’t have to be someone who accepts the status quo.