Money can be a wonderful thing, it can help you with a stable life. It can make sure you are clothed, fed, that you have nice things that you can accumulate. It can buy you experiences. Money can also cause an intense adjustment problem. It can cause lack of communication. Whether it’s too much or too little, it’s an adjustment to stay with money. Most marriages are rocked by money issues. There are some financial red flags in a relationship that couples do not notice till it’s too late. In a survey conducted in the US it was found that 65 per cent men and 52 per cent women were stressed by money issues. The survey was conducted among 1,686 respondents.
How Does Money Affect Relationships?
The sense of ownership that people feel towards the money they make or inherit is differently coloured. The sense of entitlement is different. Of course money is a social construct and an inanimate object, but when conversations turn to ‘Your money!’ or ‘My money!’ it tends to put a strain on the relationship.
Money can make or break relationships. Money is a very important factor in a relationship and how you perceive money as a couple goes a long way to establish whether you will have a happy marriage or you will end up having issues. For instance Sunit and Rita (name changed) got married when they worked at the same level in the same office. Then they moved together abroad and both found jobs where Sunit earned a bit more than Rita but it was always “our money” for them so they were happy with all their savings and investments. When they moved back to India Sunit decided to take a break. Rita had thought it would be for a year but the break got extended to five years although Sunit often took up freelance work.
But Rita now feels that Sunit isn’t taking up as much financial responsibility as he should be and she is running the show and breaking her head over money matters. The loving, caring relationship has transformed between them now. Although on the surface the financial stress in the relationship does not show but money issues have taken away much of their happiness.
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6 Ways Money Issues Can Ruin A Relationship
Money can actually break up relationships. The red flags show when the spending patterns of the partners are different or one partner is too possesive about their money and another is a spend thrift. Another reason couples drift apart is when they do not have common financial goals. Does money breakup relationships? Yes it does. We will discuss all that in the following points.
1. Merging of the assets
In most marriages, legally your assets are merged. Divorce laws on an average state that the money that the couple earned together, and which was multiplied during the course of the marriage needs to be divided equally. Merging financial assets can be great for tax reasons and other legalities but it can activate certain power struggles in a relationship which can turn bitter. This is not to say that assets shouldn’t be merged. They can be merged but the conversations surrounding it should be a mature, clear and honest one.
Also it’s important to maintain separate bank accounts despite the merger because if both partners are earning they should have something to call their own as well.
2. Different attitudes with money
How people view money and spend it is highly subjective. Living within your means is considered prudent but since the invention of the credit card, debt has become a reality for economies across the world. When one partner is into being cautious with money and the other happens to be a big spender, conflicts arise. This also happens when one of the partners is too prudent, to the point that they act like a miser. No one wants the debt to be accumulated, being too stringent with money can make even an act as mundane as buying groceries a point of contention. Enjoying your hard earned money, and not overspending is something that can be achieved when both partners communicate. As in food and yoga, so in money and life, balance is everything.
3. Things over emotions
Consumerism may have been responsible for the golden age in history, but we are slowly beginning to wake up to its negative impact on the environment, the society and even on relationships. As we try to buy the new, shiny, expensive gadgets frequently, not only are we creating more waste which cannot be biodegraded, we might also be covering up our emotions. Next time you go to the mall on the weekend look around you, same couples with corporate jobs stroll into the mall together, walk around buying things they may not use and go back, all of it in silence. They speak of course but they don’t talk. They drive there, fill up the boot of the car with stuff, drive back home. It’s almost mechanical. The time off on the weekend which could have been spent talking is now eaten up by buying things.
Then this buying becomes a habit. The need to buy more and more creates a financial stress on the relationship and then people are not happy anymore with simple pleasures like a walk in the park or coffee at the cafe. If they can’t shop as a couple they are unhappy.
4. Sudden riches
A reversal of fortune whether it is winning a lottery or losing all your money is never easy. They might look like two polar opposite things but they are fundamentally extreme changes which affect relationships similarly. People change and their priorities change when sudden money comes in. Financial hardship, on the other hand, puts people through an instant stress test and not all of them pass.
Whether you end up blaming each other for the financial loss or lose common ground because both of you changed owing to the riches, sudden financial change certainly affects a relationship.
5. Financial goals as a couple
People who have common financial goals survive money issues in the long run. Because having a common goal means working towards it together. That could be large investments like buying a house, a car or spending on children’s education or saving for retirement. But it often happens that couples don’t discuss their goals and want different things. While the wife could want to settle down in a big house the husband might be thinking of an Europe tour. Money issues in a relationship occur when goals are not common.
Accountability could be a major issue when it comes to money matters. Sometimes it happens that if a wife is a homemaker and the husband is earning he wants her to account for every penny she is spending. But he could be spending on fishing holidays with friends or evenings at the bar about which he thinks he does not need to be accountable. Also, if both spouses are earning it is alright to have minor spends without informing the other spouse but when it comes to bigger spending it is important to discuss and buy the things together to avoid clashes over money issues.
Accountability in a relationship is very important. Spouses should keep each other posted about their expenses so that resentment does not build up in the relationship.
Money is something that a couple has to deal with constantly in a relationship and if they are not prudent about handling it then money issues could actually break a relationship. Divorces have actually taken place when the wife has felt all her husband’s earning are spent on his family or a husband has controlled a wife’s finances even if she earned it.
Planning your finances together and communicating clearly, without ego and power games is key when dealing with money as a couple. If you don’t see the red flag in time then money issues could actually ruin your relationship.