Avoid Divorce: 10 Biggest Money Problems That Could Ruin Your Marriage

Couple having an argument

Couple having an argument | iStock.com/nicoletaionescu

When you first fall in love, your thoughts are consumed by your significant other. Dealing with the mundane task of managing your personal finances is often the last thing on your mind. You’re too busy gazing into each other’s eyes and planning your awesome life together. But after the wedding, reality sets in. The bills must be paid, home repairs need to be made, and groceries must be bought. Once you’ve said your “I dos” and settled into your relationship, making enough money to live is catapulted to the top of your list. Survival and providing for your family is of the utmost importance.

If you don’t give financial concerns the proper attention, they can eventually snowball into a bigger problem. Before you know it, you’re in divorce court fighting over who gets to keep the dog. Financial issues are one of the fastest ways to destroy an otherwise good relationship. In fact, a study conducted by Kansas State University found that couples who argue about money have a higher chance of divorce. If you want to stay married, you’ll need to learn how to navigate some of the most common money problems couples face. Here are 10 of the biggest money problems that could kill your marriage.

1. Your spouse is an underearner

Business man showing his empty pockets

Business man showing his empty pockets | iStock.com/jinga80

You love your spouse, but nothing kills those loving feelings faster than not being able to pay the mortgage. When your significant other isn’t pulling his or her weight when it comes to household finances, it can fill you with frustration and anger. If you’re in this situation, you may be tempted to repeatedly bail your partner out. However, that’s not always the best response. At some point, your spouse needs to figure out how to earn enough money to help sustain the household. Be supportive of your partner but also remember not to feed the cycle of underearning by acting as if everything is OK and continuing to cover all the bills.

If you’re the underearning spouse, and you don’t know how to get to a healthier place with your finances, one solution might be to join a financial support group. One group to consider is Underearners Anonymous. If you can’t make it to an in-person meeting, you can also connect with other members through one of their phone meetings.

2. You can’t get your partner to stop overspending

Woman at a shoe store

Woman at a shoe store | iStock.com/agencyby

Your partner gets paid on Monday and asks you for a loan by Friday. If your relationship has been plagued by your partner’s inability to hold on to money for longer than a couple of days, there are some steps you’ll need to take to make sure your finances aren’t negatively affected. One thing you should do, if you haven’t already, is get your own bank account. If your money is in a joint account, there’s a big risk your partner could spend your hard-earned cash recklessly or overdraw the account.

An overspending spouse needs a lot of support. You may think he or she is trying to annoy you or rebel, but your partner’s behavior could be a lot deeper than that. In the case of overspending, a financial therapist may be able to shed light on what is happening.  

3. You’re married to a gold digger

woman taking money

Woman taking money | iStock.com

Being married to an overspender can get complicated if he or she is also a gold digger. As soon as you realize you’re married to someone who only wants you for your money, that should be a clear sign that the marriage is over. These types of partners usually reveal themselves early on during the dating process, but some are pretty crafty and can fake loyalty at least until the honeymoon.

4. Your spouse is financially unfaithful

Money Stuffed in the Mattresses

Money stuffed under a mattress | iStock.com

A spouse experiencing significant financial challenges may be tempted to hide his or her troubles. For example, an overspending spouse may hide purchases or lie about how much was spent on an item. If you’ve thought about leaving your financially unfaithful spouse, you’re not alone. A study conducted by YouGov for life insurance agency Haven Life found that 70% of married respondents would reconsider their relationship if they ever found out their spouse had a hidden debt of more than $5,000.

5. Your spouse doesn’t want to work

man kicking up his feet to nap on a coach

Man napping on a couch | iStock.com

Being unable to work is one thing, but not wanting to get a job is a whole different issue. Be kind to your spouse if he or she is simply going through a temporary rough patch. However, if the rough patch goes from a couple of days to months and then years, something has to change. Give your partner a time table for getting a job (even if it’s part time). If little effort is made to be a productive member of society and your significant other simply doesn’t want to earn a living, you’ll have to decide if you can continue living this way.

6. Your spouse has a financially needy family member

hand holding money

Hand holding out money | George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

It’s nice that you partner wants to help a family member in need, but not when it puts your own family in a bind. While you can’t force your significant other to stop giving money to family members, you can gently suggest that less money is given or that money isn’t given to those who repeatedly ask with no plan in sight to become financially independent.

7. Your partner is clueless about money management

Displeased businessman count - holding money

Displeased businessman holding money | iStock.com/Alen-D

Many people didn’t receive a formal financial education, but that’s no excuse for not understanding the basics. If your spouse doesn’t know anything about personal finance, instead of taking over all the household money management duties, make an effort to help him or her learn about money. Take a financial class together or read a personal finance book and discuss it.

8. Neither of you knows where the household money is going

couple talking about money

Couple talking about money| iStock.com

We all lose track of our spending from time to time, but if neither you nor your partner know how the household money is being spent, it’s time for a chat. Have monthly or quarterly meetings and discuss how much money is coming into and going out of the household. Discuss any major upcoming purchases and revise your budget as necessary. Before you know it, money discussions will become enjoyable. You can even turn your meetings into money dates.

9. Your spouse has significant debt

student loan debt

Student loan debt| iStock.com

Carrying a large debt load can prevent you from making major purchases such as a house or car. When your partner is the one tending to unwieldy debts, this can impact the money moves you make as a couple. For example, if your partner’s debt management has impacted his or her credit, you may have a tough time qualifying for a mortgage. Not being able to live the life you want because of your partner’s financial irresponsibility can lead to fights and put a lot of strain on the marriage.  

10. Your partner is jealous of your financial and career success

banking and people concept

Money in a wallet | iStock.com/dolgachov

You should be able to share your joys and successes with your partner. You need support during life’s ups and downs. However, sometimes partners compare themselves and may begin to feel insecure when their spouse is enjoying greater financial or career success. If you’re experiencing this, take time to remind your spouse that you’re a team and that you both have value regardless of your accomplishments.

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