Money matters among three reasons for marital strife - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Money matters among three reasons for marital strife

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Marriage research has listed finances as one of the top three reasons couples get into trouble. Couples who begin to struggle with money issues are having problems at a deeper level than the cost of the items.

Money is symbolic in our culture, and it symbolizes values, goals, and what each person prioritizes. Therefore, attacks regarding money become attacks of basic values, which have a tendency to insult the spouse's family as well as the spouse.

Happy couples argue about money too, but money problems with unhappy couples lead to heated disputes.

In a book titled, "For Better: the Science of a Good Marriage," a simple quiz helps you understand how you compare to other couples. Respond yes or no, giving careful thought to the question. The answers you get will give you something to talk about with your spouse on date nights.

  1. We agree on how to spend money.
  2. I have no concerns about how my partner handles money.
  3. We are satisfied with our decision about saving.
  4. Major debts are not a problem.
  5. Making financial decisions is not difficult.

It may interest you that happy couples agree on at least four of the statements. According to Tara Parker-Pope, the author of the book, if couples disagree with three or more of the statements, they are more likely to score low on marital happiness tests.


In a national survey, happy couples who took the above test scored like this:

  • 89% agreed on how to spend money.
  • 80% said they had no concerns about how their partner handles money.
  • 73% were satisfied with their decision about saving.
  • 76% said major debts were not a problem.
  • 80% said making financial decisions were not difficult.

Whereas, unhappy couples scored like this:

  • 59% did not agree on how to spend money.
  • 68% were concerned about how their partner handles money.
  • 71% were not satisfied with savings decisions.
  • 65% said major debts were a problem.
  • 68% said making financial decisions was difficult.

How we manage our money is an aspect of marriage we can all work on and be successful. As you take the quiz, make sure you take the time to talk to your partner. Try not to lecture them, but rather discuss the areas you both feel could benefit from changes.

Below are a few suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Stop thinking about his and her money. It belongs to your marriage.
  2. Know how much each of you makes.
  3. Have a joint checking account. If that is too scary, make it a "marriage account."
  4. Have a goal to save for. Decide on a percentage to donate to this account each week.
  5. Talk about money when you are engaged in fun things together. It is not a good time to talk about money when you are crunching numbers to make ends meet.
  6. Each person should make a pact to give up something they like, or a luxury item, so that the goal can be reached. A Starbucks habit can cost as much as $40.00 per week.
  7. Agree on a specific amount of money that can be spent before you report it to your spouse. That may be $25.00 for some couples or a $1,000.00 for others. The amounts are not as important as the agreeing and the follow through.
  8. Don't attack your partner's family for the way they spent money. Your partner is their own person, and they will only feel criticized and defensive should you use this tactic.
  9. Do a little soul searching. Sometimes when a husband or wife feels neglected by their partner, they spend money. Talking will help you understand why your partner is out of control with spending. You can give more attention and focus and save money at the same time.
  10. Money is taught to most of us by watching our parents. If your spouse learned money management from parents who were irresponsible with money, talking to your partner and taking more of a "team approach" works better than threatening them.

Taking steps now can prevent your marriage from struggling with money. So many conflicts can cause distress within a marriage. Money does not have to be one of them.

On the Web:

Mary Jo Rapini -- http://www.maryjorapini.com/

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