Money Fights Couples Have

by TTMK on June 4, 2012 · 13 comments

Money. It’s a medium of exchange that many people strive to get more of, and it’s seen as a great thing to have.  Who wouldn’t like to have more money?

Having said that, there is also a school of thought that money is the root of all evil.  While I might not go that far, I would also acknowledge that money is one of the biggest sources of stress that couples have.  It’s something that can make people’s lives better, but because of its perceived importance there is often disagreement on issues related to it.

The following are 5 money fights that commonly occur:

  1. How to combine finances.  When people marry, conversations inevitably arise as to how to merge money after marriage.  Some people want money jointly combined, some want it totally separate, and some want a hybrid of the two. Whatever the case is, this is an area offering the potential to provide some fireworks.  Best to have discussions ahead of time about this, as in before getting married.
  2. Saving or spending.  Some people seem to be natural savers, and the other extreme might be shopaholic.  Regardless, it seems as if opposites often attract for whatever reason, so this might be a subject that comes up for people.  He might like to spend, she might like to save. What to do?  Again, why not discuss ahead of time, but also be willing and able to compromise and meet your partner halfway.
  3. Kids.  This can take on many forms. One is the notion of how many kids to have. They’re expensive, while of course being the greatest gift simultaneously.  Additionally, kids activities can cost quite a bit too, and parents can have different ideas than one another over how much to spend. After all, there are opportunity costs and one of those can be retirement.  I think it’s important to put kids first, but in terms of their needs and not necessarily wants.  If you’re worried about being able to retire, it might be time to make tough choices on their extracurriculars.
  4. Hiding.  If there is hiding of money in marriage, there are probably bigger issues that need to be figured out. If you’re secretly spending without telling your spouse because he/she hates spending, the other person’s preferences aren’t valid reasons for hiding.  Just the same, if the other person loves to spend, but you privately set aside money, you may think you’re doing the right thing but it’s also hiding.  Best to be up front, and take care of underlying reasons why two people can’t be straightforward!
  5. Debt.  This might go along with the saving/spending debate, but I suspect that debt can impact relationships.  On the one hand, it could simply be the stress of having it that causes tension.  On the other hand, it could be one person incurring the debt – either during marriage or bringing it in – while the other quietly resents it. This could range from student loans to child support, and other obligations in between.  I would say that when marrying someone, you marry them for the totality of who they are, so be cognizant of these factors and accepting of the total package.

My Questions for You

  • Which of these reasons for money fights do you think is most common?
  • Can you think of any other topics that might be frequent cause of money fights?
  • What advice do you have for getting people to come to happy resolution when it comes to these types of issues?


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Daisy June 5, 2012 at 9:00 am

Probably spending vs. saving being one of the more common ones. Relationships are tough when there is monetary pressure. I guess just open communication – it definitely helps reduce the fighting.


TTMK June 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Daisy – I think open communication really is key. The barriers around money conversations, and how they can be taboo, really can negatively impact relationships. Best to be open, I think!


Invest It Wisely June 5, 2012 at 11:08 am

I guess most of the uncomfortableness for us was at the beginning, because she came from a family with some money, and I… didn’t. We got over it and are learning to build a new life together. I think it’s important that we both believe in sharing the load and the rewards, while each person also retains some independence.


TTMK June 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Kevin – I think you said it well, in terms of both believing that you should share the load – even if some independence is maintained.


Smart Military Money June 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I’d say combining finances causes the most discrepancies. Even in relationships, people are proud of money they work hard to earn. Learning to share that isn’t easy.

Emergencies put stress on relationships. The money has to come from somewhere when there’s an emergency, but deciding on how to cover the cost raises quite a few questions. Whenever financial dilemmas arise in a healthy relationship, it’s best to look at the relationship as a whole. Think about how important you are to one another and agree to not let money be the difference maker. Learn to calmly talk about these things.


TTMK June 7, 2012 at 10:44 pm

SMM – I like what you say about thinking of the relationship as a whole, and how the two people are important to one another.


eemusings June 5, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Definitely spending vs saving for us.

I guess in a way you could almost say I hide money – I take care of the money management and handle both saving and spending. T doesn’t really like to get too involved and prefers not to know most of the details.


TTMK June 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm

eemusings – oh, I think you’re okay 🙂 Taking on responsibility because the other isn’t as interested, that’s not malicious. Puposely hiding is another story!


Untemplater June 6, 2012 at 2:16 am

I can’t imagine having a spouse who hid financial issues. Having open discussions about money and financial planning is so important in relationships and both people really need to be on the same page or things will get ugly fast.


TTMK June 7, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Sydney – that sounds crazy, doesn’t it?


Early Financial Freedom June 8, 2012 at 6:49 am

I believe that honesty is the best policy. A stable family where husband and wife have similar or same set of financial goals (saving, retirement, lifestyle, etc.) is the bedrock of financial and emotional stability.


TTMK June 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

EFF – Agreed totally that honesty is the best policy!


Shirley July 4, 2013 at 8:22 am

We agreed before we got married to not spend more than $100 without discussing the purchase with each other. Made things a lot easier. If one of us said no, then we didn’t buy it. Simple as that.


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