We are currently in the midst of the worst recession most of us have ever lived through, so I thought it would be a good time to discuss money’s role in marriages. I would love to just pretend money has no role in marriage, but I’d have to be pretty blind to act like that is the case.
Unfortunately, money is one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States, and I imagine the statistics aren’t too terribly different in other countries as well.
Working As a Team
When it comes to money and marriage, you need to work as a team trying to achieve one goal. Sit down, select your goals, and figure out how you can achieve those goals together. You made an agreement to work as a team, and stick it out through the best and worst times.
It’s easy to make it through the good times, the true test is when things aren’t perfect. Each person has their strengths and their weaknesses and you can use that to your advantage.
Each person should apply their time on their strong points, while the other picks up the slack on the weak spots. It might be helpful to sit down and write out what you both are good and bad at. Be happy knowing that you have someone on your side who wants to make it through these difficult times with you. You don’t have to take financial challenges on by yourself.
Bridging the Divide
By taking the task on alone, you are intentionally creating a divide. Alienating yourself from your spouse is not good for your marriage, and certainly won’t help you with your finances. Bridge this gap by either asking for help. If you are the person being alienated, let your spouse know that you’re willing to help, and see if there is anything you can do at all. Sometimes, they may think that you’re just not interested.
Extending a helping hand, admitting that you need help, and participating in the finances will bring a new level of transparency and acceptance to your marriage. Not only will you be unable to hide things in the finances, but you’ll also shake the “I don’t need you” message you’ve been passing.
The Devil’s In The Details
I mentioned “hiding things in the finances” and that might have sounded funny. When no one knows where any of the money is going, it is easy to slip things in, and form bad habits. Maybe your spouse has no clue that you spend over $100 each month on the morning coffee, and you would like to keep it that way. Details like that are the things that can slowly sink your financial ship. It might seem like a bad thing at first, but by having this transparency, you invite accountability into your marriage which will only help things.
If you are tight on money, then that coffee budget can be detrimental! By laying your cards on the table, your spouse can help hold you accountable about your spending in that area which will only strengthen your financial disposition. To get the deepest understanding and commitment to team work, I highly suggest the both of you learning how to use tools like Mint.com (Watch our Mint.com Video Review) to examine and plan your finances. Tools like Mint.com can help you:
- Plan a budget together.
- Look at the money coming in and going out.
- Plan your food options.
- Cut out unnecessary expenses.
- Track your bills and identify areas of opportunity.
- Track your progress to see the improvements.
You might be slightly wary of tools like Mint.com, and that is your decision to make. There are other tools out there which don’t connect to your banks automatically, but they are far more manual, and people tend to stop using them after a short while just because of how tedious it is. I use Mint often, and I haven’t had any issues so far with privacy or security. That’s just my experience though, and you should definitely make sure you’re comfortable with the idea before doing it.
Like everything else in life, it is always easier to bury your head in the sand, and pretend that everything is fine. The problem with that approach is that things will just continue getting worse until you can’t ignore them. Then you’ll be forced to face problems that are far worse than before. Take control now, and do so with your awesome teammate. It is rare to find someone who wants to stick with you during the bad times! Enjoy it.