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Money and Marriage Problems

This article at Yahoo Finance, When Fights Over Money Ruin Marriages, brings up different money problems that arise in marriages.  I know that money can be an instigator occasionally, but some of these problems sound like symptoms of bigger issues. Here’s what they listed and my personal take:

1. Paycheck Envy – I don’t know about you all, but my husband would dance a jig if I made more than him. If you and your spouse truly see your money as joint money, than who makes more wouldn’t matter, right? Feel free to explain something I’m missing…

2. Debt – I can understand fighting if one person keeps accruing debt while the other keeps trying to pay it off. In that case, I’d have to leave…I can’t stand lies and fighting joint progress feels like a lie of some sort.

I can also understand a general feeling of helplessness that leads to lashing out at each other. Both of these scenarios sound like a living nightmare to me. If hubby and I had high interest debt, I’d probably get a little pissy in general, but we’d sit down and make a payoff plan. Taking action sounds way better than fighting about it.

3. Bills – The article says that fights occur because one person usually pays the bills and is unhappily surprised by the other one’s spending. I can tell you from a recent personal experience, this does happen once in a while for us. I’m the bill payer since hubby had no interest in the details, but that means that the weeks he splurges on fast food annoy the crud out of me. I am slowly learning to ease up on the control freak behavior…hubby is a patient man. 🙂

4. Saving – A thrifty person married to a spendthrift is going to lead to problems. Even though hubby spends more than me, I can easily say he is no spendthrift. Thankfully. I just don’t see how it would work out very well. Does anybody have any personal experiences with this? Did any of those end well?

5. Investing – Okay, I can totally see this as being a little problem. I don’t personally care much about the specific stocks we are invested in, but I much rather invest in target date mutual funds than individual stocks anyway. Hubby rather invest more in high dividend equities. We have reached a compromise that works for us – my 401(k) and our Roth IRA are in target date funds and we have a Scottrade account for specific equity investments that my husband is in charge of. So far, this is working out really well. Have you ever had these types of issues? How did you work it out?

6. Differing Expectations – This isn’t just a fiscal problem…if each spouse has different expectations, there will be fighting. Hubby and I met when we were 18. There is nothing more eye-opening than developing into an adult while being engaged for 4 years. We have learned over the years to voice our opinions and expectations instead of assuming the other one will just know. See, you’d think that would be obvious, but selfish kids do not understand that everybody doesn’t think the same way they do, lol. Ah, the importance of communication. 🙂

7. Secret Stash – This screams “issues” to me. I would understand squirreling away money for a surprise gift or something like that, but just having “backup” cash seems hinky. Again, if there’s something I’m missing here, please give me a heads up.

What do you think? Any suggestions or comments about the above?

20 thoughts on “Money and Marriage Problems”

  1. everyday tips

    I think you have to pick your battles. If my husband was off buying every new gadget as soon as it comes out, I would be ticked. But, if he wanted to golf once a week or whatever, I would let it go. But the problems you mentioned above can all be big issues, depending on where the couple is with their financial situation. If you are living paycheck to paycheck and one spouse eats out every day, that can be a huge problem. If you are living comfortably, then stressing over something somewhat small that really bring the spouse happiness may not be worth fighting about.

    Now, if there was a gambling problem or something really catastrophic, I don’t think you can ever have enough money to handle something like that.

  2. Young Mogul

    I could see some of topics being issues in any marriage. But, like you, I feel if a couple is experiencing some of these issues, it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.

  3. BFS

    everyday tips, ain’t that the truth! Pick your battles…otherwise you’d be at each other’s throats within 2 days…

  4. BFS

    Young Mogul, yeah…if you’re fighting every day about money, there’s either habits that need to be changed or control issues that need to be dealt with…

  5. Rob

    It is often said that sex and finances are the two biggest issues that couples fight over. But as you have said, if they cannot agree on those issues, it is probably a result of bigger issues not being resolved or a lack of good communication. If two people go into a relationship having already discussed their finances (and any other issue for that matter), those issues will be much easier to resolve when they come up.

    As for my wife and I, I’ll admit that I have a small amount of paycheck envy. However, I have to keep in mind that she has been out of school for three years longer than I so she has a slight advantage there. For the rest of the list we pretty much agree.

    In regards to the secret stash – I don’t know why anyone would do this. The same goes for having separate checking accounts. If you can’t trust your spouse with your money, how can you trust them at all?

  6. Money Reasons

    1.) If my wife was working again or made more money that I do, I’d be on cloud nine! We’d be in terrific shape financially if she continued working, but after my son was born, we both agreed that she would be a stay-at-home mom. If she was still working, I’m pretty sure we’d be millionaires now… But my kids are great so it was worth it.

    2.) I do all the investing and prepare and pay the taxes, which is kind of ironic really, since my wife is an accountant by trade 🙂 I like doing the investing, in my 401K I can only buy mutual funds (I would love it if they offered ETFs), and in my Roth I play the market, while in my primary account I hold mostly dividend stocks. I’m thinking of changing this though, now that dividend stocks may be taxes at a higher rates next year…

    Overall, we’re a good mix, with my wife being a little more strict with the money than I am. Although, she does have better clothes than I do.

    My issues are that I like to overspend on the kids for things (at least compared to my wife) versus spending on me.

    I’m fortunate to have a financial frugal wife and kids (I bet this is rare)!

  7. Squirrelers

    Personally, I like the all-in approach, as a team. That said, I think the key thing is that both people, in general, have to have similar approaches to finances. One person can’t be forced to change – unless that person is totally reckless and hurts others, of course!

  8. Darwin's Money

    For: Paycheck Envy – I don’t get how spouses can be jealous of each other. That’s ridiculous, but it does happen. If you can’t be happy for your own spouse’s success, who the heck can you be happy for (besides your greedy self). My wife loves when I get a raise or bonus (more money!). I don’t get that one.

    It’s been our experience to see virtually all fights from friends and family somehow rooted in money – usually dumb money habits.

    Hiding money is borderline infidelity. You’re hiding it for a reason (planning a divorce? hiding for a fling?). Why would one hide money from their spouse?

    It’s amazing how much better relationships would be if people were just honest with each other and reasonably responsible.

  9. BFS

    Rob, I really don’t get the idea of a secret stash either. It’s beyond me.

    As for your slight paycheck envy, could you explain the feeling? Are you actually jealous that she makes more or do you just wish you made as much as she does? I wish I made as much as my hubby all the time, but I’m 100% happy for him when he gets raises and makes the gap even bigger, lol. 🙂

  10. BFS

    Money Reasons…awwww…you’re a good dad. 🙂

    Yeah, Mr. BFS would be throwing a party if I took a job that paid more than his…I just cannot think of any job I’d like any more than this one. I’m going to try to make the extra through this blog, but that will take years to achieve…

  11. BFS

    Squirrelers, even if one person is reckless, I don’t think they can be forced to change…they just won’t sometimes. Although it may seem sad, I don’t think a squirrel and a spendthrift can actually stay in a relationship unless the finances are completely separate and the squirrel doesn’t mind his/her stash being used for retirement…that just wouldn’t work for me.

  12. BFS

    Darwin’s Money, I don’t know what paycheck envy would feel like…maybe it’s because I “run” the money and handle all of it on a daily basis, but it really feels like “our” money…not his money vs my money. I agree that honestly, responsibility, and communication would actually solve a lot of problems before they even started.

  13. Julie

    1. Paycheck Envy – Not envy per se. I’m highly competitive so I just want to beat him at something 😉 I don’t want him to lose his job, I just want to make more than him at some point, lol.

    2. Debt – In agreement. No debt other than mortgage here.

    3. Bills – My husband spends barely anything. I usually ask him if he bought something at some place to make sure it’s not a fake charge, but otherwise, I don’t care.

    4. Saving –We’re both savers so no problem here.

    5. Investing – We’re too chicken to invest, lol. I have some stuff in our 401Ks but it makes both of us cringe when we look at them.

    6. Differing Expectations – We grew up together, too. We’ve been through the fights about his overentitled siblings and my overentitled parents. We paid for 2 of his older siblings’ down payments and 2 cars for a younger sibling on top of carrying them on our cell phone plan and tolltag plans for years. We are over that, but we have cut of the gravy train (mostly).

    7. Secret Stash – We don’t really have a secret stash other than our fun money. Since both of us are by nature savers, most of that fun money ends up in our own personal accounts awaiting the day that it will be spent.

  14. BFS

    Julie, I understand competitiveness. 🙂

    You and your husband fit well together – complete financial harmony! Mr. BFS and I disagree on a few little things (like fast food), but it is great to know that we each support our overall goals…I think mutual support is the framework of a solid relationship, so woot!

  15. Rob

    BFS – no I’m not jealous, I just wish I was as far along in my career as she is. I need to remember why I’m not (I graduated 3 years after her). Also, she has done a good job of managing her career. She has only worked for two employers after graduating. I’m on my fourth.

  16. BFS

    Rob, I can totally see that pov. I have the same feelings towards my husband’s advancement from part-time minimum wage to teaching to librarian…over-the-moon for my hubby and our finances, slightly disappointed that I don’t “contribute” as much. Then I remind myself that he’d be lost without me and move on with my day, lol. 🙂

  17. Denise

    I’m torn by #7. While having a secret stash may suggest the lack of trust, I’ve seen many women (and some men) who end up in violent volatile relationships who need to leave, but don’t have the money because they never saved anything for themselves..

  18. BFS

    Denise, well, if I was in a bad relationship, I’d be hoarding an escape fund. If my happy marriage turns into a bad marriage, I could just withdraw from our mutual accounts. If only one person has complete control over the money, that’s a BIG problem. Is that what happened to the people you referred to?

  19. Diana

    I love my husband dearly. I do wish that he and I had discussed money before we married 24 years ago.
    Paycheck envy – never has been an issue as we have both at one time or another been the primary bread winner.
    Debt – I was under the impression that to be a good wife I had to support my husband in everything he wanted to do. As a result we accumulated more debt than we can pay, especially given that at this moment we are both unemployed.
    Secret stashes – Yes, I had a secret stash. Thank God I did or we would have lost everything.

    We have just finished up our second round of attending Financial Peace University. I am the nerd and my husband is the free spirit. But, I was an enabler. Have I thought about divorce? You bet! Thing is this, he makes me laugh, he cares about me, he really does want to do better and he is working hard to control his free spirit.

    We may still lose our house; but, we have started actually communicating rather than just talking. We are looking at our current situation as an opportunity rather than some horrible financial nightmare. We are discovering what is really important. I’m still scared about the future. Would I be better off if we divorced? Financially, yes. But life is more than finances. We are finally working on the financial part together. Will we ever be wealthy? Who knows. Will I stash money again when I become employed again? Probably. Backsliding does happen and I want to be prepared. It is not a matter of trust. It is a matter of knowing and understanding my husband’s financial intelligence.

  20. Crystal @ BFS

    @Diana, I’m sorry if I touched a nerve. It sounds like you are truly trying your darndest to make a loving marriage work. Obviously we are all in different situations, and hind sight is always 20/20, so my views on financial compatibility don’t mean squat for you and yours. Especially now after 24 years. 🙂 I think it’s awesome that you value your relationship so much. I think I may put too much emphasis on financial stability in my own priority list, but it is what it is.

    Good luck! And super, uber, every-finger-crossed good luck on both of you finding jobs you love (or anything that can work for you two) ASAP! Thanks for reading. I truly appreciate it.

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