Therapy Blog for Orem, Spanish Fork & South Jordan

Relationship Problems – Money

relationship problems, money, couples counselingRelationship problems often come in the form of money. As discussed in other articles, money, sex (Related Article: Relationship Problems – Sex) and in-laws (Related Article: Relationship Problems – In-Laws) are potential issues for premarital and newlywed couples (referencing John Gottman’s work). 


Let’s talk about how money can be an issue for married couples and what to do about it. This isn’t an issue that goes away with time or by ignoring it. It also isn’t a marriage problem that goes away when you get more money. It is not a cash flow problem, but rather a relationship problem. 


Expectations About Money Can Cause Problems


You and your spouse probably have different expectations about how much money you want to make, how much money it will take to run a household and what are your needs versus wants in life. Your arguments might be over how much to spend on things such as clothes or gaming systems. Or, it might be over whether or not to take out a student loan versus working through school. 


What To Do: Whatever the expectation differences are between the two of you, they can cause significant relationship problems. What I recommend to couples is that they talk deliberately about what their past experiences with money are, how their parents spent money and how they want to spend money. Talk about what is and what is not worth going into debt for. Discuss what your needs versus wants are regarding what you will spend money on. 


See your different expectations as opportunities to talk with each other and get to know one another better. Neither of you are wrong, but not knowing each other’s expectations are will cause problems. So, talk about them and make them explicit. Then you can decide how to come together. 


Old Debt and New Debt Can Cause Problems


Sometimes you can start off in the hole regarding money in your relationship. If either of you is bringing debt to the marriage, this can cause problems – but doesn’t necessarily. School debt, for example, isn’t something that would cause a lot of red flags, but it can be something that would put a strain on your relationship financially. Consumer debt (i.e., credit card debt) can put a strain on your relationship financially and could bring with it other issues as well. 


What To Do: Talk about what you are willing to go into debt for and how much. Talk about what you are not willing to go into debt for and how you will avoid it. Find a Guru in the financial field (such as Dave Ramsey) and follow their model about how to handle debt and other finances. These Guru’s might have a budget system you create and stick with together. 


Lack Of Communication About Money Can Cause Problems


Just a simple lack of talking about your budget, debt, cash flow and expectations can cause relationship problems. It’s not about how much money you do or don’t have, it’s about how much you are able to effectively communicate with each other about it. 


What To Do: Be deliberate about talking about money. Set a time each week to talk about finances and where you are when first getting married. Talk about how you are following the Guru’s model and what hurdles you find. After a while, you could probably move that meeting to once a month, but at first talk more about it. This will help you to be on the same page and be able to work through issues as they arise. 


Schedule a couples counseling session to work through money issues in Spanish Fork, South Jordan, Orem or American Fork. 


Written by Triston Morgan, PhD, Utah Marriage and Family Therapist


Utah Therapy


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