For many, financial conflict is a reason for marital fights. In my marriage I’ve found that financial issues are usually a surface problem caused by deeper issues. It’s easy to mistake finances as the true issue if you argue about them regularly. But, if the same money arguments happen constantly without being fixed, there may be a deeper underlying problem.
If you’ve tried to settle money fights that keep coming up, you might need to look a little deeper. Here are some questions you and your spouse can ask yourself:
Am I afraid to admit the truth?
Was there ever a time when you were scared to talk about money with your spouse because you spent money when you shouldn’t have? Were you too embarrassed to admit you didn’t pay a bill when you were supposed to?
Whenever I have kept a major financial secret, the root issue was I afraid to talk about money because I didn’t want him to know I made an unwise money decision.
Am I dishonest?
I had to come to the conclusion that keeping financial secrets in my marriage was dishonest. That dishonesty resulted in conflict. It’s unwise to make significant financial decisions if you don’t discuss them with your spouse. If you’ve been hiding something you did or didn’t do, the real issue is not about finances, it’s about being honest.
Dishonesty destroys trust. When trust is destroyed, your spouse will not trust you to make future decisions, causing a vicious cycle of fighting to continue. In a marriage trust needs to be rebuilt before delicate and important issues like finances can be dealt with properly.
Is there a breakdown of communication?
I’ve found that if I didn’t clearly communicate my thoughts, desires, and preferences, my husband has to guess what they are. That is unfair to him. Doing this puts an unnecessary burden on him to have to guess what I am thinking, wanting, or prefer. When he’s forced to guess, it can easily lead to misunderstandings that lead to fights, hurt feelings and resentment.
If you only communicate about finances when you’re upset, your emotions can easily get in the way, followed by harsh words and nothing being accomplished. This lead me to start writing down my concerns before talking to him. I’ve also learned not to expect any positive results if I begin a conversation in a negative tone. When I started practicing this, the results were much better. We both benefited. It helped us be clearer about what we needed from each other concerning spending, budgeting, and balancing our bank accounts. This all lead to us getting out of our financial mess.
Am I holding on to unresolved hurt?
It was much easier to argue about finances than admit my feelings were hurt. Holding on to that hurt or resentment caused me to overreact every time we talked about money issues.
I simply had to stop letting those feelings hinder my relationship. By bringing those feelings out in a healthy way prior to dealing with financial issues, we were able to actually discuss and deal with our finances without excess emotional baggage.
I hope that you can learn from my experience. I believe that you and your spouse can lay a stronger foundation for your financial future by dealing with underlying issues first. Be honest, communicate clearly, and resolve hurts in a healthy way before you tackle your financial issues.