Is the weight of money worries crushing your relationship?
When money problems become the main source of stress in your marriage, it is time to act. Simply hoping your money problems will go away will not solve them. It takes a real commitment from both of you to work as a team toward common financial goals.
People in promise to love support each other through thick and thin and through good and bad financial times. People in love don't blame, shame or chastise each other when making financial decisions. They work together to make ends meet today and to prepare for a financially secure tomorrow.
By working together to address head-on the economic challenges in your marriage, your chances of success (financially and romantically) get a whole lot better. The thousands of happily married couples we have interviewed in 48 countries on all seven of the world's continents have shared many stories about working together to maintain their financial stability. Interestingly, many of these successfully married couples were open about their financial difficulties and the strategies they employed to keep their financial house in order.
We have summarized the wealth of their wisdom and successful strategies into the five important actions you need to take to keep your money problems from crushing your marriage:
- Get on the same page with your spouse. You are in this together, so make it a team effort. Communicate openly and form consensus about all financial goals, choices, and commitments. Financial communication and sharing is the best insurance to prevent a serious fault-blaming session after a financial decision turns out badly. The blame game doesn't work in love and marriage.
- Develop a realistic budget—one that both of you can live with. The number one cause of stress in marital relationships is money problems caused from running up a "butt load" of debt and not knowing how to get out from under the weight of it. Too much debt and not enough money at the end of each paycheck makes it tough to relax and enjoy life together. Work out a budget you can both agree on and stick to it. Put off purchasing anything that you don't truly need until you save enough money to pay for it.
- Taking ACTION together is the best way of solving your financial problems. Agree on a course of action to live within your means and pay off your debts. Using the budget you developed together provides the clarity of purpose needed to find solutions to any financial problems that occur. That means not wallowing in self-pity; it is a wasted emotion. No financial problem has ever been solved by feeling sorry for yourself or your situation. Climbing out of financial difficulties takes focus, courage, a positive team approach and consistent action.
- Never make a major purchase without talking it over first with your spouse and then sleeping on it. You will be surprised at the number of purchases you don't need (or even want) after you sleep on it.
- Celebrate each time you have a financial success such as paying off a credit card or finding a way to cut expenses. Fiscal responsibility is a virtue and an accomplishment to be proud of. Taking time to celebrate money milestones together creates the feeling that the next goal is even more achievable. (Just don't spend all that you just paid off while celebrating.)
While finances are the number one cause of marital disagreements, once you solve your financial issues you can focus again on what really matters—being happily married to someone you trust with your money, our future, your sacred honor, and with your love.
Creating a successful marriage is not always the easiest thing to do. Your decision to read this post suggests you are highly interested in making your marriage work. And truthfully, we have learned via over 30 years of marriage research that there are proven effective ways to ensure a happy and healthy marriage. In fact, we took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building a Love that Lasts.
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts