Couples’ Financial Problems: The 3 Biggest Mistakes That Cause Relationship Issues

December 7, 2012 by

As a Portland relationship counselor, I know that couples’ financial problems can lead to even bigger issues in their relationship if they don’t deal with them. Some of my clients are even ready to call it quits by the time they enter my office because they’re just fed up with all of their money worries and want a clean break.

Most of the time, though, what I find is that the majority of money issues stem from fear, a lack of communication between partners, or both. Here are three of the most egregious mistakes that couples can make with each other where finances are concerned.

It’s your debt, not mine. In general, couples’ financial problems flow from this line of thought like so: You have a significant amount of debt and I don’t, so it’s your problem. They are acting purely out of fear of getting caught up in a financial situation they can’t handle, but while that is understandable, remember that your marriage is a union and that you’ve agreed to share things – good and bad. Their debt is your debt, so you should work together to find a solution.

What budget? If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a Portland relationship counselor, it’s that one partner can never assume that the other operates the way they do. That means when you put together a budget, you need to do it together so that you both have input and can sign off – literally or figuratively – on the final product. A budget isn’t real if you create it by yourself or don’t bother to really talk to your partner about it. That’s the kind of thinking that’s destined to lead to fights – not to mention overspending.

I have no idea where those accounts came from. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that lying causes couples’ financial problems. Admittedly, sharing all of your finances can be scary, but that doesn’t mean that hiding money is the way to go. If you want to keep some money separate, talk about it and work out some kind of agreement. There are lots of couples who do this quite successfully.

Unfortunately, knowing that you should be honest and improve your habits is one thing – actually doing it is another. Couples’ financial problems mostly stem from the fact that the way they handle money is closely related to how they saw it handled growing up, which can make it quite emotional.

If you want help with your money issues, I encourage you to sign up for our Money Habitudes workshop this winter.