Marriage and Money - Relationship Perspective

Finances and Divorce

Statistics show that the majority of marriages that end in divorce cite "money problems" as the number one reason for divorce.

During the current recession with an unemployment rate of 10.2% and expected to rise higher, married couples are feeling the strain. No wonder couples are nervous!

Music to Our Ears

It's tempting to live our lives filled with anxious what-ifs. Shakespeare's Almeria encourages, "Music hath powers to soothe the savage breast." Does your breast beat with anxiety and stress? Let music soothe it!

The British Invasion

Did you grow up grooving to the Beatles? Or did you place your fingers in your ears, complaining that you "couldn't understand a word they're saying"? Or perhaps you were born after their split in 1970 and don't get what the big deal is!

Wherever you fall on the Beatles spectrum, they had some undeniable classics. Take, for example, Money Can't Buy Me Love. During our current recession, were truer words ever spoken?

"I'll give you all I got to give if you say you love me too

I may not have a lot to give but what I got I'll give to you

I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love!

Say you don't need no diamond ring and I'll be satisfied

Tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can't buy

I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love!"

Another Apple Records Great

Apple recording artist James Taylor intones this wisdom in Shower the People:

"Just shower the people you love with love

Show them the way that you feel

Things are gonna work out fine if you only will

Shower the people you love with love

Show them the way you feel

Things are gonna be much better if you only will."

Wisdom to Live By

Is this economy getting you down? Draw wisdom from the words of these rock 'n roll icons.

What is it that money can't buy? Love!

Now's the time to set aside your relationship with money and to focus attention on your relationship with the people you love.

True, substituting love for money won't pay the bills, but it's a choice you can make today that will make paying those debts a lot more bearable and keep your relationship the ultimate priority.

Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep growing!

Married for 33 years, Greg and Priscilla Hunt are certified Specialists in Marriage Enrichment, Couple Communication Instructor Trainers, and Prepare-Enrich Seminar Directors. Greg is a consultant and author. Priscilla is Executive Director of Better Marriages: Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment.

Marriage and Money Management - 4 Tips To Understanding Financial Situation

Divorce can be summed up in one word devastating.

Putting aside the emotional distress, often times divorce takes a unaccountable toll on you financially. Divorce is not only the separating of a family, it is the separating of finances. Overnight many of your bills for staples such as electricity, cable TV and phones double since they are now not shared. Ironically, research has shown that most divorces occur due to financial distress; this problem is only compounded after the divorce.

Research also shows that both parties in a relationship often times do not have a good understanding of their current financial situation. I have found in my work that the majority of the couples that I consult with do not have a good clear understanding of what their net worth is, nor what their expenses are. Over the decades of being in this business and doing multiple financial analysis I have found that it is rare to find a couples that are prepared financially if their relationship ended in divorce.

Here is a list of things that I advise both parties in a marriage do immediately to have a better understanding of their current financial position:

Make two lists. First, make one list of your monthly living expenses and another separate list for your expenses that hit annually. Then, plan out 15 years with those expenses growing at 5%.
List all of your financial assets. Separate the list by assets that can be sold and turned into cash immediately and those that cannot. For the liquid assets place a value on them by using the value given from your statements. On the other assets place a realistic value.
Putting any appreciation aside, list the amount of income that your derive from these investments. Then separately estimate any appreciation you might realize from your investments.
Determine how much money you need to have reserved in cash, just in case you lose your employment income or your assets depreciate.

By doing these steps all couples will have a better understanding of what their current financial situation is. It is usually not a pleasant exercise, but often times very necessary.

Marriage and Money - Before You Say "I Do"

There are many aspects of marriage that are consistent trouble spots for couples. Disputes about money are by far the most common cause of divorce. Here is a list of money-related topics that every couple should discuss in detail before they tie the knot. Remember, you may revise your answers later but you want to have a good understanding of your prospective spouse's feelings and habits.

1. Habits

- What are your spending habits?

- Do you live paycheck to paycheck?

- What percentage of income do you save?

- Have you always been responsible with money?

- Discuss any goals that you have that require money.

- How do you plan to achieve these goals?

- How important is each goal to you, on a scale from 1 to 10.

2. Family History

- How did your parents handle money while you were growing up?

- Was anyone in your family stingy? How did that make you feel?

- Was anyone in your family financially irresponsible? How did that affect you?

- Do you have any family members who have been or are currently in financial trouble?

- What age did you become financially independent?

- Share what your money management habits were leading up to that point.

3. Debt

- Do either of you have debt?

- How much?

- How long have you had it?

- At what rate of interest?

- If it is a significant amount, discuss why and how it reached that level.

- How will it be paid?

4. Costs related to the wedding

- How will you pay for the wedding and honeymoon?

- Will there be any debt acquired?

- If yes, what is the plan for eliminating this debt?

5. Assets

- Do either of you own real estate?

- Do either of you have retirement accounts?

- Do you have other major assets?

- What would be required to access the value of these assets if needed?

- Are any of these assets shared with other owners?

6. Income

- Will both of you contribute to household expenses?

- If so, what percentage will each person contribute, or which bills will each person pay?

7. Expenses

- What are your current expenses?

- Can any of these items be merged or eliminated?

- How much money will each person have to spend as they like?

- What type of expenses do each of you expect the other to pay out of their discretionary budget?

- What impact will your marriage likely have on expenses?

8. Savings

- Will you establish a joint savings account?

- Who will contribute to it?

- What it will be used for?

9. Major purchases

- Is there an amount of money is too much to spend without consulting the other?

- How do you think major purchases should be handled?

10. Survivorship

- In the event that one of you passes away, what are your expectations for your assets and debts?

- Do you have a will?

- Are you aware of the estate laws in your jurisdiction?

My sincere hope is that this list of questions helps you to establish an open and honest discussion about how you and your prospective spouse feels about money. It is very important to have some rules for your finances to avoid problems due to misunderstandings.

Why Money Is an Issue in Marriage

Is money really a big issue in marriage? Maybe you've heard these money sayings or maybe at one time have even said them yourself: "Money doesn't grow on trees", or "Money is the root of all evil" or "Time is Money". There are some who hold fast to the saying "Money is Power". Money is a BIG part of life whether you are engaged, newlywed or married beyond newlywed. No matter how long husbands and wives have been married, people tend to "bump" heads when it comes to money. Some husbands and wives quit talking to each other when it comes to money because they argue instead of talking. The person who is managing the money may think it is easier to carry the burden of the marital finances in order to keep the peace. What is the mystery behind money? In all fairness it is not a mystery, it is more common sense and people are CHOOSING to AVOID what they know they should be doing.

Reasons Why Money is a BIG issue in Marriage:

1) On some level to every person, money represents security. When a husband and wife have not discussed what is important to them when it comes to money and someone loses a job, then security is jeopardized. Think about how many people possessed the American Dream and once the economy went into a recession people began losing jobs which affected their ability to pay their bills and even their mortgage. Once the mortgage got so far behind and they couldn't catch up they received a couple of warnings to catch up and eventually they got a notice about being foreclosed on. Now not only did this affect the person who was managing the money but everyone living in the household. For many women, money represents security, being able to take care of their family and leaving a legacy. When security has been compromised, that does not make anyone feel safe.

2) Most marriages have a money manager and the other person has no knowledge of what is happening in the marital finances. Let's face it, the money manager is usually the person that has good administrative skills, doesn't need to be reminded when to pay the bills and has a goal in mind when managing the money. The problem that seems to creep up over and over again in this situation is that the money manager is literally carrying the weight of the world on his or her shoulders and not sharing with the spouse when there is financial decision that needs to be made. Finances in marriage impact the husband, wife and children if there are children. Therefore, the money manager needs to involve the other person and not just once a month. In the beginning, they should engage the other spouse at least twice a month so they are aware of what is happening with the finances. Consequently if something happened to the money manager, the other person wouldn't even know how to pay the bills to include HOW they pay the bills (phone, internet or even mailing a check).

3) Feeling the need to keep up with the Joneses. Let me let you in on a secret about the Joneses: They are up to their neck in bills and late notices. They are also fighting behind closed doors. However they have figured out the difference in Public Finances and Private Finances. In public, they represent having it all together, driving the latest cars, wearing the finest of clothes and acting as if they are all lovey dovey. When they are in private, they can't lie to themselves. They have to look at themselves in the mirror. This is when they are faced with late notices, the phones are ringing off the hook with calls from collectors. You are on the outside seeing exactly what they want you to see - not the truth. You are witnessing some of their best acting outside of their home. Give them their Oscar. The Joneses only have to pay their bills and not yours. You are the only ones responsible for your household bills, LIVE accordingly.

Marriage and Money Problems - The Real Reason Revealed!

Without question, money problems are at the root of a substantial number of marital crises. In fact, according to most sources this issue ranks within the top 4 reasons for divorce - sharing the stage with the likes of infidelity, communication and emotional abuse. And typically, the mainstream approach to overcoming this dilemma has been to manage it on the surface with the following advice:

1. Agree on a budget
2. Set goals
3. Communicate
4. Open separate checking accounts

Now, I wouldn't dispute the possibility that these common sense recommendations could prove to be helpful when it comes to couples fighting about money. However, none of them will amount to a hill of beans if you don't fix the root of the problem! You see, most marital issues are merely a symptom of a much larger underlying problem. Take infidelity for example. The reason most people cheat on their partner is the loss of an emotional connection caused by fears, insecurities and low self-esteem. Another example would be lack of communication. People don't communicate with their partner as a result of their critical, argumentative, smothering, clingy, needy or controlling behavior. Plain and simple, they don't want to be around that behavior. Therefore, they withdrawal and the communication diminishes or ceases altogether.

Subsequently, money problems are no exception! Sure, when the wallet gets a bit lighter or there's not enough money in the account to pay the bills because of a poor economy, the situation may be exacerbated or inflamed. But, two partners that are well grounded and aren't struggling with fears and self-limiting beliefs will usually work through those tough times. At the end of the day, if spending money matters in a relationship, perhaps you're not spending enough emotional currency on the things that matter most.

Are you struggling with fears and insecurities? Do you feel jealous or do you feel like your losing control of your relationship when your partner spends money on him or herself? Or, do you feel slighted because your partner doesn't spend enough time with you or give you the attention you desire? Hence, you become angry when they spend money on themselves? Does your partner attempt to control you and/or your relationship through financial means? Perhaps your partner has a fear of abandonment or a fear of losing control. Bottom line, there's usually an underlying issue that causes most couples to fight about money. However, there is one exception to the rule - compulsive shopping or addictive behavior. And, that is another matter altogether.