Money will always be a big deal, don't let your marriage burn because of it.
Ever wonder why we promise in our wedding vows to stick around for "richer or poorer?" It's almost like the ancient vow makers knew money could sink even the most stable of marriage boats. Promise now, because rough seas will come.
In fact, a study of 4,500 couples discovered fights about money are the #1 predictor of divorce. Sonya Britt, a researcher at Kansas State University, reports couples "who argued about money early in their relationships — regardless of their income, debt, or net worth — were at greater risk for divorce."
"Arguments about money are by far the top predictor of divorce," she said. "It's not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It's money — for both men and women."
So, if you and your honey disagree about money, is divorce guaranteed? Not at all ... UNLESS, you (or your partner) habitually make these 8 fatal money mistakes:
1. One person controls all the money.
Unless you married your mother, your days of getting an allowance and having zero say in the family finances should have ended. Each person in the relationship deserves a voice and role in the money decisions. It is a healthy way to demonstrate, mutual, trust and respect.
2. You lead completely separate financial lives.
It's not wrong to have separate checking accounts. There are often good reasons to have separate personal, business, gift accounts, etc. BUT keeping secret, private, "your-eyes-only" accounts is a huge mistake. The accounts you have, combined or not, should have an all-access pass for the other person.
3. You hide over-spending.
Spending sprees can dig you both into a deep financial hole so both parties need complete transparency about spending. If you're hiding receipts, lying about what was on "sale," or borrowing money to cover up your spending. Stop the hiding and come clean.
4. You fail to plan for your future.
Couples caught unprepared for a major expense, or emergency expense, feel cornered and desperate. They look for someone to blame, and they usually find the scapegoat — on the other side of the bed. We often see individuals take matters into their own hands and invest in high-risk schemes, as a last-ditch effort to make up for lost time or take out loans without their spouse knowing, so they can play the "hero" and write the checks to the college. You, inevitably, get older. Emergencies happen. Plan together for a future, free from blame and desperation.
5. Someone commits financial infidelity.
Yep, that's just like it sounds. It's cheating on your spouse, with money. If you are lying, cheating, or secretly hoarding money without your spouse knowing, you're committing financial infidelity. You are being unfaithful and it can destroy your marriage.
Stay financially faithful and set your marriage up to win. For example, decide to discuss any purchase over $100 or agree to eyeball the credit card statements together every month. No one needs to feel like they are on a leash, but honesty protects your finances and relationship.
6. You refuse to appreciate your spouse's approach to money.
Every individual approaches money uniquely. You intuitively know this, whether you realize it or not, when you joke about your mother and her coupons, or your dad's "bigger is better" belief. Your partner has an approach to money that won't change anytime soon. If they love to pinch pennies, prepare to witness a lot of pinching. If they don't spend money often, but when they do, it seems to always be the item with the largest price tag. THAT'S who they are.
Refusing to understand and appreciate the way they view money sets you, both, up for a lot of pain and potentially divorce.
7. You criticize your partner's money management skills.
Your partner views money differently than you. Trouble starts when you make them feel rotten about it.
Maybe you roll your eyes when he pulls out the discount card at every restaurant or the way her cash is never organized in her wallet. Or maybe you lose it when he forgets to return the movie and late fees rack up. Either way, you make sure your partner knows your way of handling money is right ... and theirs is WRONG. This is about as helpful to building trust and positive communication in a relationship as nit-picking their eating habits.
8. You fight about money in front of your children.
Want to make a painful mistake for your finances, your marriage, and future generations? Fight about money in front of the kids. Discussing money is not always stress-free, but by no means does it require disrespect. Fighting — not discussing — but fighting about money with your spouse tells your kids that money is more important than your relationship.
So, where are you guilty as charged? It's time to break those bad money habits and ensure your marriage survives and thrives ... emotionally and financially. Take note of past mistakes (remember, everyone makes mistakes) and discuss plans to avoid them in the future. Your marriage and bank account will profit.
Scott & Bethany Palmer: The Money Couple® are the creators of the 5 Money Personalities. They also provide real-life anecdotes and powerful parenting advice in their book The 5 Money Conversations to Have with Your Kids at Every Age and Stage.
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