You have probably heard that money woes are one of the leading causes of divorce. Keeping financial secrets like a gambling addiction, outstanding payday loans or massive credit card debt can come back to haunt you later in major ways, and these events are almost always a huge source of stress – for you and your spouse both. Some people believe that money fights are predictive of divorce, so it’s important to rein them in while you can. Read on for some ways to smooth over, patch up, and recover from money arguments.
Transparency is Key
We’ve all heard the horror stories. In almost every case, terrible financial secrets will not stay secret forever. The debt will find you. When it does, will you be in the midst of a life-shattering argument, or working through your saving plan? It is important to be honest about finances with your spouse from day one. Share your credit score and reveal any bumps in the road, even if they’re taken care of. If you are not good with money, tell the truth, and work to find a solution: take financial classes at your local career skills center or get some guidance from someone whose money skills you admire.
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding something from you, it is important to appear open and agreeable, not angry or explosive. Do not gather evidence in order to confront them with a flourish; instead, if you notice something amiss, bring it to their attention immediately, making it clear that the discussion is open. In the short term this will probably avoid an argument; in the long term, this will create more positive feelings between the two of you, even when it comes to money disagreements.
Agree on a Budget
Work together to create a budget that you are both happy with. Try to align your points of view – if you are extremely concerned about saving for retirement but your spouse is hoping desperately to live in the present and enjoy a vacation, try to find some happy middle ground. Be sure that you both understand the areas where you must make sacrifices, and how to use your accounting software or whatever other system you devise. If your spouse slips up, it is important that you treat them with respect and work through the issue without anger. Revisit your budget regularly. If something is consistently not working, try to understand why and come to agreement on a way to solve the problem.
Pay Bills Together
Even if you maintain separate accounts, make paying bills a shared activity. Paying off debts makes money seem more tangible, and not just like magic contained in a plastic card – and working together puts you on a united front. This is also a good time to discuss your budget and whether or not it is working.
Paying bills together also assures that you both understand the process. Letting one person stay in the dark while the other takes care of the family finances is asking for a bad situation. If one or both of you is clueless, there are a number of resources online, personal finance blogs, and at the career skills center in your town.
Have you avoided money arguments with your spouse (or significant other)? What tactics have you used?
Aaron Walker is a tech enthusiast and amateur PF enthusiast who loves trying new gadgets, reading true crime novels, and hiking. He hopes to someday end up in a writing career combining all of his interests.