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Money Talks in Marriage

Relationship to Money

What’s your relationship to money? How do you talk to your spouse about money? Does communicating about money cause rifts in the relationship? Or do we push the conversation on money under the rug because it’s easier to avoid the conversation than to deal with it?

Talking about money shouldn’t be this difficult. Yet, one of the leading causes of divorce is money. What does this mean? Couples are giving too much power to money that when it is brought into the conversation it dominates rather than the couple dominating money together.

What’s your relationship to money? Often when a couple comes to see me I see the “saver” and the “spender”. However, the way one spouse communicates about the “spender” is in relationship to not having any value in money, saving or their future. It brings up fears of the future, and whether that partner is truly invested in the relationship. While the other sees the “saver” as being deprived of what life has to offer, controlling and not valuing the things that make the other happy. Now if we were to reframe how we’d look at the other to a more positive view, are relationship to money wouldn’t feel or be experienced in a negative way. Try it with me. Think of your wife who saves as someone who is careful, values the future and wants to ensure that you and your family are taken care of financially. Think of your husband as someone who values being happy, enjoying what both of you have worked hard for, and wants to see you happy when they opt for both of you to take more frequent vacations. Doesn’t that feel a lot different? Doesn’t it make you want to talk to your spouse about money?

How do you talk to your spouse about money? As a couple, talking about money can be challenging if we maintain focus on the “I” in money. I know, there is no “I” in money, but focusing solely on what you want when the money coming in is being built by both of you can feel hurtful over time. Think about it from the saver’s perspective, they are making sacrifices for the team to save, so coming to ask about money for one person can feel like an attack to the relationship. Its okay to disagree about money but consider the equity in money before making a decision about money that can negatively impact the relationship. Think about what would feel equitable to give or take from each other’s money before you make your next financial decision. Consider what is equitable to save from each other’s checks or spend. Don’t get confused, equity may not necessarily mean an equal contribution of money (i.e. I give $2000 and you give the same). It may mean I give $3000 and you give $1000 because I make 3 times the amount you make. Nonetheless, if you avoid the conversation of money or become close minded when it comes to money, then you don’t leave room to negotiate what is equitable for the relationship. Without this negotiation you’re opening the door for money problems.

The next time you talk about money think about the following things:

  1. Who makes the decisions about money? Why?

  2. What is an equitable amount to give? To take?

  3. How do I communicate about money so that my spouse can hear what I want or need?

  4. What am I asking from my spouse financially? Is it reasonable? Is it equitable?


Terling-Watt, T. (2001). Explaining divorce: An examination of the relationship between marital characteristics and divorce. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 35(3-4), 125-145.

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