Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Are You Married To Your Finances?

I read recently that the greatest source of conflict in marriages today is money. Although other issues also rank high, I don't think anyone is surprised to hear that money is number one. Almost every couple will experience some sort of tension related to finances, and this is especially common after having children. A couple becomes accustomed to a certain standard of living with both partners working and only themselves to pay for, but they may have a reality check when suddenly one partner's income is cut and there is an extra person to provide for.

A change in financial circumstances, however, does not have to translate into marital tension. While two partners may have different priorities, spending habits, and levels of income, talking about these issues can forestall arguments. It is important to be open in communicating to each other how you feel about each of these issues, and to agree together on how you will handle your family finances. This may require a certain amount of compromise, surprise, surprise! Like any other area of marriage, good communication, good listening, and considering each others needs will solve many a problem. Some teamwork and brainstorming may reveal ways you can save while still paying the bills. You might even find yourselves needing to make sacrifices to preserve the things that are most important to each of you.

The difficulty with the issue of money is that for many people it represents much deeper issues: security, control, even survival. (If you suspect this may be the case for you or your partner, it can help to work with an impartial financial advisor, or in extreme cases a marriage counsellor, to mediate the discussion.) We need to be able to emotionally detach ourselves from our finances - remember you are married to your husband/wife, not your money (house, car, or credit). I'm NOT saying that your family's finances are unimportant or unworthy of your attention. Wise financial stewardship can help eliminate one area of stress in your lives, but ultimately a secure, loving and mutually respectful relationship can weather the storms of hard times with a strong united front. Remember, you are a team!

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