Whose money is it anyway?

You’ve probably heard that money is one of the top reasons why couples fight. Over the years I have noticed that money IS a big hot button issue for many of my patients.

Couples have different spending habits, beliefs about saving, and financial priorities. Moreover, couples who are otherwise honest with each other will at times keep their spending indulgences a secret from their partner. Also, social class affects us deeply; if you grew up in a poor household then having or spending money can mean something different to you than your spouse who grew up as middle class.

But money fights are not always about money. Sometimes they are about needing validation. Your partner is busy all the time, but just max out the cards and you have your partner’s attention!

Other times they are about unexpressed anger, where spending big bucks allows the person to be distracted from the rage that they might hold inside. In other instances, one partner may be spending uncontrollably because another emotional aspect of his or her relationship seems out of control.

No matter what the underlying issues are, money spats often highlight power struggles in the couple relationship. Here’s how it can go: “If you want buy an iPhone for yourself can I just say no? If you buy the iPhone anyway then can I buy those purple boots? And not tell you?”

In these financially difficult times money triggers even more anxiety in us. Threats of job loss and other financial woes make couples especially susceptible to money fights.

The following article is helpful in outlining some steps couples can take in sorting through their disagreements about money. However it helps to remember eventually the discussions need to go deeper to other issues as well.