Wealthy couples fight about money. Couples who are just making ends-meet fight about money. Middle-class couples fight about money.
Money is the greatest cause of stress for individuals and is a strong predictor of depression, general psychological distress, mental disorders and suicidal thoughts and behavior. Financial stress can be so severe that it can cause physical pain and lasting physical damage to your body.
Financial tension is common in many relationships:
- Does that tension likely spill over and affect the quality of your relationship?
- Do you find yourself fighting about the same things when you fight about money?
- Do some of your fights about money seem more intense than many of your other disagreements?
If this feels familiar to you, you’re not alone. Other couples report the same types of fights and feelings.
The fear of these arguments leading to divorce is well-founded. Couples who disagree about financial matters are twice as likely to divorce as those on the same page about their finances. Not being on the same page about financial risks is the strongest predictor of divorce.
You’ve made the right decision to learn ways to stop fighting about money.
Couples are more likely to be happy when they both participate in sound financial management practices such as budgeting, saving, maintaining low debt, and living within (or below) their means.
The money management decisions we make each day, the challenges or opportunities we face, these things do not occur in isolation. Couples who are happy face them together.
At Modern Husbands, we created this calendar to celebrate financial literacy month. Each day includes a dedicated personal finance resource you can use to bring you and your partner closer together.
As discussed in How to Manage Money in a Marriage, several proven strategies can help you and your partner handle finances cooperatively.
1. Personal finance concepts: The nuts and bolts of managing money: understanding bank accounts, credit cards, 401(k)s and other accounts and services.
For example, your Roth 401(k) contributions are made with after-tax dollars, but what you contribute is not taxed upon withdrawal. Traditional 401(k) contributions are made with pretax dollars, an above-the-line contribution that reduces your top-line AGI, but withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.
2. Personal finance psychology: Why we do what we do with our money: the cognitive, social, emotional and cultural factors that come into play when people make financial decisions.
Applying financial psychology to your relationship, consider the common challenges folks face when trying to tuck away money for emergencies. Try splitting your paycheck into two separate accounts at two different banks or credit unions, putting a barrier between your spending and savings accounts and increasing the chances of saving regularly.
3. Personal finance relationship strategies: Partners need to collaborate to work together toward shared financial goals. Each of you should have an equal voice in how the household finances are used, but may divide the money management responsibilities.
We have our own relationships with money, our own money story. Pulling our own complicated money emotions together is hard enough; working with a partner to consider theirs and be a united team takes time and cooperation.
Brian Page is the founder of Modern Husbands, which provides men with advice about money, marriage and family matters.
Also read: This financial abuse can destroy your marriage.
April is National Financial Literacy Month. To mark the occasion, MarketWatch will publish a series of “Financial Fitness” articles to help readers improve their fiscal health, and offer advice on how to save, invest and spend their money wisely. Read more here.