It’s no secret that couples fight about money, but have you ever thought about the underlying reasons for those fights? Well, we’ve spent years thinking about it and breaking down all the different factors that lead to arguments about money. We’ve pinpointed three of the main causes, and now we can tell you not only why you fight, but how to fix it!
Money is the root cause of 70% of divorces, and that’s a crazy high number! Our goal is to bring that number down, and we think the first step to ending the fights is understanding why they happen in the first place. So, without further ado, the 3 reasons you and your spouse fight about money:
1. We Have Too Many “Shoulds” In Our Head
Everybody has their own set of “shoulds” about money. These are ideas that begin forming in childhood that color your perception of how your money ought to be used. In my childhood, the prevailing idea was that you should always buy the cheapest thing. That meant I grew up eating the cheapest generic food my mother could buy. And I hated it!! It goes against my Spender/Risk Taker Money Personality, and I decided that when I was grown, I was never buying generic products again! That wouldn’t have been a problem – if I’d remembered to share it with Scott. All too often, we come into a relationship with our different “shoulds”, and we don’t always discuss them beforehand. Those differences lead to fights, and that’s exactly what I discovered one week into our marriage.
We had just moved into the first home we had purchased together, and we had all these different “shoulds” that we had never talked about. Scott’s first solo grocery store trip yielded multiple bags of – you guessed it – generic products! I was so upset, but it really wasn’t his fault. I’d never told him how at odds I felt with my mother’s hyper-saver tendencies during my childhood, and he had no idea that I held a deep-seated loathing for generic food. He was just trying to spend responsibly! Our different “shoulds” got in the way and caused an argument over canned goods!
2. One Person Is “The Parent” In The Relationship
In most relationships, one person is naturally better at dealing with money. Even though we are both financial advisors, we chose Scott. He loves planning, and he’s the master of budgets, or as we call them, cash flow worksheets. It’s great to have a spouse who loves managing our money, as long as they aren’t the only one calling the shots.
Problems occur when a spouse takes on a “parent role” and makes all the decisions about money or makes judgements on their spouse’s spending. And don’t even get us started on the idea of giving your spouse an “allowance.” Allowances are for children, not the adult that shares your life! Couples can’t have productive conversations about money if one spouse feels subservient to the other.
Marriages are built on a foundation of communication and compromise. It can’t function if one spouse holds all the power and makes all the decisions. Your conversations about money have to involve both of you and take both of your needs into consideration. Don’t let yourself get into a situation where one spouse is acting as a parent – stay on equal ground!
3. We Marry Our Money Opposite
The heart of our love and money advice is that you have to know and understand each other’s Money Personalities. We each have two distinct Money Personalities, and sometimes they clash! Over 300,000 people have taken our Money Personality Assessment, and we’ve found that 80% of us have married our money opposite. It’s very rare for couples’ Primary and Secondary Money Personalities to be the same. Scott and I are both Primary Spenders, but our Secondary Money Personalities could not be more different. I’m a Risk Taker and he’s a Security Seeker, and before we had the words to label and understand these differences, they caused fights!
When you truly understand the facets of your different Money Personalities, you can begin to see those differences as a positive instead of a negative. You begin to understand that there are no rights or wrongs about money, instead you use those differences to your advantage. You can use each other’s strengths, work together, compromise, and build a marriage that’s divorce-proof!
We hope you have found value in this introductory look at fighting over money in our relationships. To dive in even deeper and really understand how money fights start, why they hurt, and how to stop them, we’d love to send you a complimentary Infographic so you can put an end to hurt feelings and pain over money for good.