Financial problems in marriage. Part 1
Next to sexual issues, financial issues seems to be one of the most common sources of relationship problems. If your day to day life is filled with stress and worry over finances, it’s nearly impossible to keep a positive attitude about things, and sooner or later, the stress will start to affect even the strongest of relationships. As our parents prepped us for life as adults, often one of the things that got the least amount of attention is money management skills. If we were taught how to balance a checkbook we were doing good, and heaven knows we get enough bad marketing from the credit card companies to keep us from knowing what’s the proper way to manage our finances.
Today is the day of no money down, no payments for a year, nobody turned down… Everything seems easy, and nobody wants to wait. But sooner or later, all this “easy credit” grows to the point where we can’t get out from under it and that’s when the pressure lands squarely on our shoulders. But, this may be one of the aspects of marriage that I think can be turned to our advantage as we try to save our relationship. No matter what your financial situation is, or who is to blame, if you work at this the right way, fixing your financial situation can also double as excellent marriage therapy. I’ll explain what I mean…
Tackling a bad financial situation can be looked at as war. It’s you and your spouse against the debt. United in your quest to right your financial picture, you’ll be working together, communicating, planning, analyzing and making progress towards a common goal. What better relationship therapy can there be? Now, I’m not going to be able to provide the worlds most complete working plan for getting your finances fixed, but I will highlight some really good resources that I think you should check out as you begin to get things under control. But what I will emphasize here is the need for you to go at this problem as a couple, not as an individual who is blaming your spouse for the situation. If you want to stay together, and financial stress is what’s causing the bulk of your problems, you MUST work together on this problem.
Ok, so let’s talk strategy here. First things first. Time to bust the walls down on the communication side of life and get this topic out into the open. You need to schedule some time to sit down with your spouse, turn off the TV, send the kids to a friends house for an hour, put your temptation to place blame on hold and lay things out clearly and without becoming overly emotional. Chances are you’ve both had plenty of time to feel bad about your situation, I don’t want you to feel bad as you take this new approach to things. I cannot stress this point enough!!! You must not get angry with each other now, you need not get upset of freaked out, let’s just treat this as an exercise in operating with cold clear logic. These are numbers, not an indication of you as a person.
So let’s assume that you and your spouse have agreed that it’s time to take the bull by the horns and get this situation under control. You’ve cleared some time, cleared off the table, and you’re sitting down to have a serious, productive hour of tackling the problem. If you’re a computer type, a spreadsheet is a great tool for working out the income / expenses picture, but you can also do a nice job with a piece of paper and a calculator. I strongly recommend working things up on a computer if you can, because it will be much easier to adjust the numbers around and work out some different scenarios as you decide what needs to change.