Ways Money Issues Can Ruin Relationships

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Money is a very important factor in a relationship and how you perceive money as a couple goes a long way to establish whether you will have a happy marriage or you will end up having issues.

Talking about money is not particularly sexy – unless you’re a character in a movie rolling around on stacks of bills. Financial troubles and differences are one of the most common conflicts and can ruin relationships.

So How Does Money Affect Relationships?

The sense of ownership that people feel towards the money they make or inherit is differently coloured. The sense of entitlement is different. Of course money is a social construct and an inanimate object, but when conversations between people turn to “Your money!” or “My money!” it tends to put a strain on the relationship.

Here are some common patterns for developing poor financial practices:

Different attitudes with money

How people view money and spend it is highly subjective. Living within your means is considered prudent but since the invention of the credit card, debt has become a reality for economies across the world. When one partner is into being cautious with money and the other happens to be a big spender, conflicts arise. This as well happens when one of the partners is too prudent, to the point that they act like a miser.

We agree what no one wants the debt to be accumulated, being too stringent with money can make even an act as mundane as buying groceries a point of contention. Enjoying your hard earned money, and not overspending is something that can be achieved when both partners communicate.

In money and life, balance is everything.

Financial goals as a couple

All people who have common financial goals survive money issues in the long run. Because having a common goal means working towards it together. That could be large investments like buying a house, a car or spending on children’s education or saving for retirement. But it very often happens that couples don’t discuss their goals and want different things. While the wife could want to settle down in a big house the husband might be thinking of an Europe tour.

And money issues in a relationship occur when goals are not common.

Viewing money behaviours as character traits rather than habits

We often believe that our money behaviours are completely enmeshed with character traits. For better or for worse, we view a person's style with spending and saving as supremely telling of their character. If your partner spends more than the agreed-upon budget for the month, do you see it as a specific problem to be solved, or do you bemoan the fact that he or she is lazy, selfish, or careless? If your partner needles you about a purchase even when you both agreed it was OK, do you view it as something that needs to be discussed, or as an indication that they are a hypocrite who always goes back on their word?

Over-personalizing money styles can make the problem much bigger. When you have a financial issue to discuss, keep it as specific as possible. And better try to resist the temptation to turn it into a bigger issue about character, which will only make you more upset and put your partner more on the defensive.


Accountability could be a major issue when it comes to money matters. And sometimes it happens that if a wife is a homemaker and the husband is earning he wants her to account for every penny she is spending. But he could be spending on fishing holidays with friends or evenings at the bar about which he thinks he does not need to be accountable.

If both partners are earning it is alright to have minor spends without informing the other spouse but when it comes to bigger spending it is important to discuss and buy the things together to avoid clashes over money issues.

Set aside time for these conversations - once a month is usually good -- and go into them with an open mind and a willingness to listen.


Even in the strongest partnerships where all money is shared, jealousy about money can begin to erode the relationship.

Maybe you secretly resent how easily your partner got that high-paying job while you struggle to land freelance gigs. Maybe you've always been so mired in student debt that you've frugally taken your lunch to work for eight years, while your partner orders takeout meals with abandon. Or maybe you're simply envious of how your partner doesn't seem to spend any time worrying about money or crunching numbers, whereas it takes up an enormous amount of your mental energy.

But ironically, being so scared that financial envy and jealousy will ruin your relationship may actually help it to do so - you must acknowledge your feelings so that they don't end up turning into resentment. And the more you try to pretend that everything is OK, the less likely you are to initiate a real and honest discussion, which is the only way you can work toward solving the problem that's causing the jealousy in the first place.

Refusing to compromise

The old saying that opposites attract is often true for finances. Spenders frequently get together with savers, and planners frequently partner with people who are much more impulsive than they are.

This can actually be a good thing if you're willing to respect each other's different attitudes toward money and find shared common ground because you can balance each other out. But it won't work if neither of you are willing to compromise

Both partners need to recognise that being in a couple means not always getting their way when it comes to money. Instead, keep discussing big financial issues until you find an agreement that works for both partners. But your relationship is worth the effort.

Things over emotions

We often assume that our way of dealing with money is correct, and everyone else's are wrong.

As we try to buy the new, shiny, expensive gadgets frequently, not only are we creating more waste which cannot be biodegraded, we might also be covering up our emotions. Next time you go to the mall on the weekend look around you, same couples with corporate jobs stroll into the mall together, walk around buying things they may not use and go back, all of it in silence.

They speak of course but they don’t talk. They drive there, fill up the boot of the car with stuff, drive back home. It’s almost mechanical. The time off on the weekend which could have been spent talking is now eaten up by buying things.

Do you go on spending sprees when you're upset? Do you make fun of anyone who buys an extended warranty? Do you always buy name brands? Or perhaps you insist on using a spreadsheet for even the most minuscule expenditures. We all have money quirks, but the odds of our quirks being aligned with our partners' quirks are very slim. Take a step back and acknowledge the differences that you and your partner have and—even more important - understand the ways that your quirks may be related to your upbringing and difficult for someone else to live with.

Only then can you work out a healthier method of dealing with them.

Money problems are not worth ruining your relationship over. Avoid these common money mistakes that couples make and instead chart a new course of compromise and transparency on financial issues. You'll both be a lot happier when you're working together toward shared goals, especially if you find a way to respect one another's money decisions, while also having a little cash of your own to spend as you please.
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By: Jess Lorinter

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