Marriages deteriorate when money is an issue

From time to time, analysts evaluate the most common causes of marriage breakups. While the social climate may add new reasons or eliminate others, some issues are perennial items on those lists. Conflict over money is one of those factors.

In fact, some financial experts say money arguments are the number one reason why couples split. You and your spouse may understand how money can create stress in a relationship, and the problem is not always that there is not enough money. Even if you earn significant incomes, you and your spouse may still deal with disputes and conflicts over money. If you cannot reach a resolution for those conflicts, you may be considering ending the marriage.

What’s the problem?

Do you have a secret bank account? Does your spouse spend money without considering the family budget? When payday comes, do you and your spouse argue about how to distribute the money? Answering yes to any of these and other questions means you are among the many couples who may be struggling to communicate effectively about money. For many couples, the stress begins when they combine their funds and effectively lose control of their personal finances. However, even separate bank accounts may not prevent the following conflicts:

  • Having no plan for large expenses, such as home repairs, education for the children or medical bills
  • Making expensive impulse purchases, such as a new vehicle, without consulting each other
  • Disagreeing on when it is appropriate to spend and when it is better to resist spending
  • Spending more than your budget will allow, such as buying a house you really cannot afford
  • Keeping money secrets from each other, such as undisclosed debt or secret purchases
  • Overextending your credit card debt
  • Having different financial goals, such as one wanting to travel and the other wanting to save for a retirement

Your money conflicts likely boil down to having vastly different philosophies about how to earn, save, spend and borrow money. Some counselors claim that couples who skip marriage counseling and spend lavishly on their wedding are more likely to knock heads over money issues. Couples who do these things often find themselves starting off with outrageous debt and few tools to deal with the stress.

A marriage that ends because of money issues will likely face contention over asset and debt division during the divorce. Because of this, it is wise to have a skilled attorney who has experience in California’s community property laws.

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