Don't Let Money Problems Ruin Your Marriage

There's no right way for married couples to manage their money. But there are plenty of wrong ways. "Financial issues are the primary reason for 90 percent of divorce cases I handle," says John Thyden, a prominent Washington, D.C., divorce attorney. "But it isn't necessarily the amount of money a couple has that tends to trip them up. It's the differences in their spending habits and especially their lack of communication." Here are some issues to watch out for. And while you're at it, try adopting these habits of the happiest couples.

1. Relationship Neglect
Pssst...sometimes arguments about money are actually about not paying enough attention to your marriage (do this to stop having the same fight), rather than your financial situation. When spouses feel neglected, they may resort to spending cash on items they can't afford or bring up their partner's buying habits as a way to retaliate for deeper issues. Examine the root of your fights and determine whether your fiscal concerns are actually a by-product of hurt feelings. Then, if necessary, get started on a marriage makeover.

Related: How to Save Your Marriage


2. Love Is Blind
At the beginning of a relationship, money often isn't an issue. Love can be intoxicating, and some spouses express their emotions by lavishing their partner with exorbitant spending sprees, jetting off to exotic vacations, and other costly pursuits (don't make these money mistakes). Then reality sets in, and couples have to worry about their rent or mortgage, kids and living expenses. A financial planner can help you get your finances back on track and develop a budget that you can stick to. Plus, set out some financial rules to follow as a couple.

Related: Are You Spending Too Much on Your Kids?



3. When Women Are the Breadwinners
Women are the breadwinners in one out of three dual-income families today. Although earning more money can be beneficial, it also challenges traditional gender roles, so that wives may feel guilty about putting less time into mom duties while husbands may feel like they've failed somehow. Set up equal spending rights with your spouse so that you're both on the same page.

Related: Who's Really the Big Spender: You or Him?




4. Keeping Up with the Joneses

It can be easy for couples to become envious of other couples' spending habits and feel like they need to live beyond their means just to keep up. However, this can lead to debt and put a significant amount of stress on a marriage. Do some digging with your spouse and work together to diminish these insecurities.


Related: Recession-Proof Your Marriage






5. A Lack of Open Communication

Not knowing exactly where your money is going each month can spark resentment. Have an honest conversation with your partner where you both break down the spending in your household. Discuss your priorities and decide together if you need to cut back or add to a specific category.

Related: How to Save Your Marriage





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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

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