Relationship Advice: Fights Over Money Cause the Most Harm

May 20, 2015 by

Jabs at your weight can wound, and arguments about your children can be stressful, but fights about money can cause the most harm to your marriage, some studies have found.

Money as a topic can be particularly negative and threatening to your relationship when compared to other sources of disagreement. Fights about finances are often longer and more repetitive, and involve more negative feelings and unfair tactics. Relationship conflicts involving money are more likely to be mishandled, and you may find yourself shouting and feeling more defensive during such conflicts than in others.

The topic of finances can be very sensitive, since it’s closely related to personal vulnerabilities and self-esteem. Money conflicts are often more difficult to resolve than other types of arguments, and research has found that married couples who disagree about money once a week are twice as likely to get divorced as those who argued over it less than once a month.

If you and your partner frequently butt heads over money, rest assured that you are not alone. Money is a frequent source of marital conflict among couples, along with children, chores, communication, and leisure. It’s important to address and resolve money conflicts before allowing the hurt, stress, and anger caused by financial disagreements to ruin your relationship. Below, I’ve included some tips on avoiding money conflicts and handling such arguments effectively.

Be honest. It’s important to be upfront about your finances, debts, and assets with your partner from the very beginning of your relationship. While money is far from the most important thing in relationships, it is hard to have a trusting and intimate relationship with someone if you’re not honest about your financial situation.

Create a budget. Oftentimes, money conflicts arise from emotions and misconceptions. By creating a budget, you and your partner can have a logic-based discussion as you review the numbers, rather than letting your feelings and assumptions control the conversation. Budgets don’t have to be incredibly strict, either. It’s okay to allow some wiggle room for you and your partner to purchase special treats and luxuries every now and then.

Respect each other’s personality. Most people have a unique spending style that influences how they handle money. For instance, some people are prone to scrimping and saving, while others value generosity and luxurious purchases. If you feel you and your partner have conflicting spending styles, try to evaluate and understand their perspective on money. By trying to see things from your partner’s eyes, you’ll have a better grasp of their motivations for spending the way they do and be able to communicate more effectively.

Remember what’s important. It doesn’t matter how much money you or your partner makes—if you are materialistic, you will have conflicts even when you have plenty of money. Acquiring possessions, investing in real estate, and even paying off debts should be secondary to what’s truly important—you and your partner’s feelings and support for each other, your family, and your friends.

Seek professional guidance. Money-related conflicts can erupt into much bigger relationship problems in the long-run. For this reason, achieving harmony around money issues may require the special attention and guidance of a Portland relationship counselor. A counselor can offer relationship advice that allows you to delve to the root of your conflicts, and provide you with tools for handling money arguments in a healthy and effective way and preventing such arguments in the future.