A couple sorts through a large stack of bills together representing money issues in marriage

As an experienced couples counselor, I know that the number one challenge for married couples is managing finances together. Fighting about money is extremely common, but these disagreements can be about much more than dollars and cents. They can eat away at the fabric of your relationship if you don’t know how to approach them with understanding and care. Many couples need support from marriage and family therapists trained in financial counseling for couples to effectively manage their finances together while keeping their connection strong. This is especially true for married couples who haven’t gone through the process of evidence-based premarital counseling together, which is a proactive way to prevent many money issues and other marital challenges before they begin. 

In this article, we’ll explore the most common money issues in marriage, and the strategies that will help you overcome them. 

The Most Common Money Issues in Marriage

  1. Debt: The Silent Stressor

Debt is a pervasive issue that casts a long shadow over your married life. Having a lot of debt creates stress and resentment, and limits your ability to pursue your dreams together. Tackling debt on your own is a challenge, but doing it as a couple requires open communication, empathy, and a united approach to finances.

  1. Failing to Compromise

When you’re managing money together as a couple, neither one of you can bring an attitude that “it’s my way or the highway.” But this is unfortunately very common. We all received messages and values about money from our families of origin, and it can be very difficult to recognize that your partner’s money mindset is as valid as your own. 

When couples have differing views on saving, spending, and budgeting, being able to compromise is essential. It allows you to create agreements around your priorities, so you can work together to improve your financial health without eroding love and trust in your relationship.

  1. Financial Infidelity

Financial infidelity involves hiding money, debt, or spending from your partner. This betrayal of trust can be as damaging to your relationship as having an affair, and can chip away at the foundation of a relationship. 

Many couples need support from a marriage counselor to overcome the damage that financial infidelity does to their relationships. But prevention is better than a cure. Committing to open and honest communication and transparency around finances will help you avoid financial secrecy in your relationship. 

  1. Not Discussing Money

One of the most common money issues in marriage is simply not discussing money. This dynamic often takes root after a couple has been struggling to manage finances without getting into fights for a while, and avoiding conflict feels easier. But this can be a recipe for disaster. It creates an environment where breaches of trust are more likely and resentments can pile up unaddressed. Regular, open dialogues about financial goals, concerns, and plans are essential for a healthy marriage.

  1. Big Differences in Earnings

When one partner brings home a significantly larger income than the other, it can create some challenges. Earning disparities can lead to power imbalances, power struggles, and simmering resentment. The key to navigating income differences lies in reframing the mindset from “yours or mine” to “ours.” Money is a shared resource when you become married, and even if one partner earns more than the other, both partners need to be empowered to make decisions about how they’re saving and spending. 

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How to Solve Money Issues in Marriage

Now that you know the most common money issues in marriage, let’s explore how you can put this information to use in your relationship. 

My first piece of advice for couples who aren’t married yet is to invest in high-quality premarital counseling before you say “I Do.” Look for evidence-based, non-religious premarital counseling with a marriage and family therapist, ideally one who has specific training in financial counseling for couples. This ensures that you will have in-depth conversations about important money matters, ask all the right questions before marriage, and create understanding about each other’s values around money. This not only helps you prevent financial problems down the road, it lays the foundation for a marriage that lasts a lifetime. Learn more about how premarital counseling works.

If you’re already married, getting help from a good marriage counselor can be a game changer. Look for a marriage and family therapist, not an individually trained counselor who also sees couples. An MFT will be intimately familiar with all of these common money issues that married couples face and will have tools and strategies to help you navigate them together. They will help you understand and respect each other’s points of view, rather than taking a side or labeling one of you “The Problem.” Learn more about how to find a marriage counselor

Support for Managing Money as a Couple

While money can be a touchy subject for many couples, fights about money are actually an opportunity for growth in your relationship. As you deepen your understanding of each other, learn how to create agreements and compromise together, and begin to manage money as a team, your love and connection will grow.  

If you want to do this valuable work with a relationship expert on my team, I invite you to schedule a free consultation

Sincerely, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

P.S. — For more advice on resolving common marital problems, check out my “Relationship Repair” and “Premarital” collections of articles and podcasts.

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