The result of the findings of three charities showed that “money worries were the reason most commonly cited by couples for strains on relationships”.
Here are my thoughts as a divorce consultant and what I have witnessed with my clients:
How the problem can start
As part of my work as a divorce consultant, I discuss with my clients what they consider have been the causes for the relationship breakdown. It is often not one stand-alone reason which has caused the breakdown but it is quite common for money issues to be mentioned. In my mind, the key to a successful relationship is effective communication. Without honest and open communication about all important issues, the couple may struggle to stay connected. Couples need to work as a team and make sure they are on the same page about all important issues which could affect the family. Money is a very important issue and I don’t think it is discussed enough between couples. When I hear my clients talk about any particular money issues there have been in the marriage, my first question is always “have you talked to your spouse about it?” Quite often the answer is no.
The types of problems which could arise
The reference here to money issues refers to a difference in attitudes to money. As the article in The Times sets out, it doesn’t matter if you’re a spender, frugal or what particular items you like to spend your money on, provided you’re on the same page about it with your partner. When you’re not, problems can easily arise.
I have clients with all sorts of different experiences of money issues in their marriage. I have set out below two common scenarios I come across in my work as a divorce consultant:
For the breadwinner:
I have clients who have become increasingly frustrated about what they consider is over-spending or irresponsible spending by their spouse. They often feel under huge pressure to maintain their spouse’s chosen standard of living. Resentment can build up when the breadwinner is feeling pressure to work harder and harder to keep on top of their spouse’s spending habits. It is quite common for the breadwinner to have also assumed the role of “money manager” in the relationship and they can often see how much pressure their spouse’s spending is putting on the family’s finances. The other spouse may be (or may choose to be) oblivious to this.
For the homemaker:
The problem I often see for home-makers involves their lack of knowledge and/or involvement in important money decisions. This has usually come as a result of the money manager spouse failing to consult with their spouse about financial decisions for the family. They have been kept in the dark about money matters with perhaps little control over spending and/or little access to money. This can leave the home-maker spouse feeling quite vulnerable about money and on the back foot about the family’s financial position. They may become quite resentful of their spouse controlling the money and not consulting with them about decisions involving money.
Left as they are, both issues could result in quite serious problems within the relationship.
How to address the problem
If you want to make your relationship work and avoid the situation becoming worse, then you need to talk to your spouse about it. Tackle the problem head on. Don’t avoid or ignore it as it will just get worse. Make sure you talk openly and honestly with your spouse about your feelings about their approach to money. Perhaps suggest some workable solutions that you could agree on.
You’ll also need to consider your spouse’s thoughts on the matter too. Relationships involve compromise and you both need to consider each other’s thoughts and feelings on important topics. You are a partnership and in this together. Work as a team to sort out the problem. You may need to consider involving a professional such as a marriage guidance counsellor to help you work through the issues. Different spending styles can cause huge pressure on the strongest of relationships.
Not all relationships can be saved but it is always worth knowing you have tried everything to make things work before making any decision to leave the relationship.
If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you’ll find lots more in my eBooks, which you can purchase and download today.
If you’d like to work with me 1:1, for help preparing financially for your divorce/or support during or after the divorce process, please get in touch to find out how I can help.
Why I became a divorce consultant.