How to prevent arguments about finances

Have you ever had an argument with your partner about money? Has he or she spent more than they should? Have you over-spent and tried to cover it up to avoid a fight? I have developed a system to stop the arguments over money. I have been married for nearly 14 years and we never ever fight about money.

I will provide some simple steps for you to take to stop the arguments over money permanently but before I get to that I will make a disclaimer. If you are deep in financial trouble, go and seek professional help immediately. And for everyone, I don’t know your personal situation so seek advice from your bank or financial advisor before doing anything. This article is education and should not be considered advice.

What causes fights over money anyway? Is it the lack of money? Perhaps if you just make more money, then the arguments will go away? I believe that this is never the case. In business, clubs, churches, community groups and even government there are always arguments over the allocation of money. Bringing in more money might fix things in the short-term but once your lifestyle adapts to the new income level, the same issues will arise.

There must be a way to allocate money so that money is set aside for those things that are important but not so that you have to walk around with a check-list on how much you have spent. Of course I am talking about a budget but don’t switch off just yet! there are two fundamental kinds of budgeting:
(1)Accounting for what you spent
(2)Providing for what you need in future.

The most common form of budgeting is accounting for what you have spent. To me, this is like driving your car along the road only using your rear view mirror. Every time you see that the car has hit the dirt, you start adjusting the steering wheel to get back on track. Analogies aside, 1-2% of analytical people and accountants love this style of budgeting and no one else can stand it!

The other form of budgeting is implemented by larger organizations where they make provisions for future expenses. I am not talking about accounting tricks to save money on tax either. I mean that cash is deliberately set aside in a bank account to be used at a later date, for a specific purpose.

So how do I implement a forward-looking budget that provides for future needs and will stop arguments about money at home?

Firstly, I accepted the fact that both my partner and I must have a certain amount of “mad money” that is not accountable at all. We both have our own separate card account that is our own responsibility respectively. This might be ten dollars a week or it might be a hundred – that will depend on one’s circumstances but the amount is regular and agreed to by both of us. No one should have to account down to what one did with a few dollars of change in your pocket.

Secondly, there might be regular things like purchase of food and is common sense that this would be the responsibility of one partner or the other and this would go into their card account as well. In our case, my wife is responsible for groceries, so that goes to her account. I pay for the children’s sport from my card account.

Thirdly, there are regular expenses such as electricity, telephones and utility expenses. It may include rent or loan payments. Consider the bank fees and charges before taking the next step and shop around if possible but pay for all of these regular expenses out of a clearing account. I use a no fee, high interest bank account for this purpose. I call this a clearing account and that is where my pay goes (not my card account).

Finally, I use about 10 no fee, high interest bank accounts for other savings goals (or provision accounts). I transfer regular amounts from my clearing account into these Let me tell you about some of them. As an example I will also show how much I put aside each 2-weeks into these accounts and the annual goal.
Holiday Account – $40 x 26 = $1040
Car Registration and repair – $57 x 26 = $1500
“New Car Account” – $40 x 26 = $1040
Electrical, computers etc $20 x 26 = $520

The list goes on. I also have accounts saving towards a new home, gym fees and so on. I have a separate account for our investment property, with sufficient funds to provide for minor repairs and unexpected property expenses. The total above is $4100 and with a quick bit of math, the average balance would be $2050. At 7%, that is $143 of interest to me as a reward for setting aside the money that I am going to spend anyway.

Why does this work for me? It still takes negotiation to decide how much to put aside for holidays and so on but once I set up the payments I found that I have always had the money set aside for the regular bills. After Christmas, I had no credit card debt at all because our family didn’t over-spend on what was set aside in a separate account. Right now, it is a little tough for us with unexpected medical bills coming in. I am negotiating with my partner where this money will come from.

When I go to the automatic teller (or use internet banking) I can see how much is in my card account and I know that I can spend it guilt free and consequence free. I know not to go over the amount in my card account. So if I want to take the family on a treat, then I know how much is available and so I can choose accordingly.

In a sense, I guess, I have turned the banking system around to do my budgeting for me. After all, isn’t that what technology is meant to do for me?

Opinion: Mismatched expectations, overspending, and shame can cripple a marriage

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A few years ago, a new client came to see me, without her husband, for a financial planning session. We’ll call her Sara. I knew Sara and her husband were having problems getting out of debt, and it was beginning to severely impact their relationship. Sara told me, through tears, that their fights about money had become so regular that she wasn’t sure the marriage would last.

They had been married for more than 10 years with two kids, while she ran her own consulting business and he taught as a college professor. They were both in their early 40s and had a total household income of just over $200,000, which is high for the average American. (In 2019, the latest year figures were available, the median income was $68,703 for a married couple and $86,011 for a family, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.) But Sara and her husband were still struggling.

While they had about $160,000 saved in their retirement accounts, they also carried about $27,000 in debt, divided between a small student loan and credit cards. Between making minimum payments on their debt and paying their monthly bills, they were constantly running out of money.

Key Takeaways

  • Research shows that more than half of marriages in the U.S. start off with a burden of debt.
  • Having a budget, recognizing and eliminating wasteful spending, and boosting income are all ways that a couple can reduce debt and regain their financial footing.
  • In addition, couples can stop money fights by having a weekly money "date" to discuss finances and sharing their family financial histories.
  • It's also important to be compassionate and patient toward your partner and to create positive associations in your money discussions.

Hidden Spending and Mismatched Priorities

Sara told me she was concerned about her husband’s spending habits, which were unpredictable and often hidden. While she prioritized getting out of debt and increasing their savings, he spent more freely and was irritated by what he felt was her constant criticism over his spending. They had reached a breaking point.

They weren’t alone, as is well known. According to a 2018 Fidelity study, more than half of couples getting married start off in the red. Even worse, 40% of indebted couples reported that it had a negative impact on the relationship. I was witnessing that tension firsthand. After spending an hour with Sara at that first session, I was convinced she wanted to save her marriage and that we could find a path for her and her husband to a healthier financial life. Working together with her husband we developed a financial plan.

Cutting Spending and Bad Habits

Our financial plan set up a clear budget that identified where they could cut back on nearly $600 in spending per month by eliminating things like subscriptions and frequent dinners, as well as the husband’s lunches out at work and the afternoon coffee habit. He also agreed to dump his health club membership and use the college’s gym facilities for free.

They established a grocery budget and redirected about $500 in savings toward debt payments. Lowering their spending wasn’t enough, though. They needed more income, and Sara agreed she had the bandwidth to take on an additional client in her practice, which would net her another $1,000 per month.

Since it fell to Sara to pay their bills, she needed a better system to make sure she could allocate additional payments every month toward their current debt, starting with the highest interest rate debt. We set up a direct payment through their bank account to automate bill payments. Once Sara knew their credit card and student loan payments were on a consistently scheduled date, she just focused on making sure they had the money in their checking account in time.

Tips on How to Stop Fighting Over Money

The real breakthrough and victory for Sara and her husband was the fact that they started communicating more about their spending, savings goals, and plan for the future. Money went from being a subject they fought about to one they enjoyed spending time discussing, without shame or blame. I helped coach them to this point by having them follow these four simple rules:

Schedule weekly money dates. Weekly money dates allowed Sara and her husband to come into the conversation prepared, unthreatened, and ready to make progress. If these talks happen regularly, they won’t be left until something has gone very wrong, when tempers and defenses are flaring.

Talk to each other about your financial history. This is something the couple had shied away from since they started dating. Learning how their respective families talked about money revealed why Sara and her husband brought their own habits into the relationship. If one partner thinks it’s normal to keep their spending secret, while the other wants expenses out in the open, there are bound to be expensive and painful miscommunications. Find out what’s normal and what’s not in your partner’s eyes. What you thought was a malicious or deceitful act may have been a seemingly “normal” money habit to them or vice versa.

Try to be more compassionate and patient. Money issues are extremely personal and can touch on some deeply entrenched emotions. By empathizing with each other, the couple gave themselves permission to admit their past mistakes, which enabled them to openly plan for the future, free of shame. Remember that when you’re dealing with personal finance, these issues touch more than a balance sheet. Pride, shame, and self-worth can easily be tangled up in discussions about money, so tread carefully and respectfully.

Create positive associations. By talking openly about their financial aspirations and goals, Sara and her husband discovered how much fun was missing in their relationship when money was a source of stress. Once their plan was in place and they could see a viable path to becoming debt-free, they actually enjoyed their financial talks, since they now represented the positive possibilities awaiting them in the future, rather than feeling like a confessional to review past “sins.”

Sara and her husband were able to turn things around. That doesn’t mean every couple will have the same experience. Couples may not be able to come to an agreement and a plan that works for them.

And some money problems are deeper than this couple—both in good health, with good jobs—experienced. Families caught in serious financial trouble may require detailed credit counseling, even bankruptcy.

But whatever a couple faces, they will have a better chance if they start—or restart—their conversations about money from an honest, open, and loving place. It takes sacrifice, commitment, checking your pride when necessary, and a willingness to stick to a plan to give you the best chance of success. I’ve seen it happen.

Miriam Caldwell has been writing about budgeting and personal finance basics since 2005. She teaches writing as an online instructor with Brigham Young University-Idaho, and is also a teacher for public school students in Cary, North Carolina.

When you get married, the way you handle your finances will likely change. Though you should have discussed your personal finances, as well as financial goals for the future with your spouse before getting married, that doesn’t always happen.

That means there will probably be times when the two of you are at odds regarding your finances, either due to differing viewpoints on how to do things financially, or perhaps even because you are financially incompatible.

Follow these five steps to stop fighting about finances and avoid the financial problems that can lead to divorce.

Keep in mind that if there are bigger issues, like having your spouse steal your identity and take a loan out in your name with our knowledge, you may want to consider marriage counseling to help you deal with those issues.

Listen to Your Spouse

How to prevent arguments about finances

If either one of you is having a hard time sticking to your budget, then it may be time to sit down and figure out why the budget isn't working for you and begin to develop a plan to stick to the budget.

Does your spouse feel like you set up the budget or that the categories are not reasonable? Did you dictate the budget and not make a team effort? Or is the budget you created for your new family simply not realistic?

That's when you should have a conversation with your spouse on the best way to formulate your budget, including how much money to allocate for groceries, eating out, clothing, and other fun extras. Don't forget to budget for padding your emergency fund, which is necessary for any workable budget.

It's also a good idea to include a line item for money each spouse can spend, no questions asked. This can help keep your marriage healthy.

You should agree on how to deal with other issues that may pop up, like an unexpected car or home repair, credit card debt, or what to do if your parents ask for money.

Agree on Larger Purchases

It's important to both be on the same page regarding larger purchases, such as a car, vacation, or another splurge. But it can be difficult. It may be that one of you feels that the item is necessary now, or wants to invest in a more expensive option to save money in the long run. Try following the rule that until you both agree on the purchase, it should not be made.

If you are objecting ask yourself why. Can you pay for the purchase in cash? Is it stopping you from reaching a goal? Do you just want to spend less money overall? Spend time explaining and listening to each other until you are able to resolve your differences.

Some couples also set a spending threshold and anything above that must be cleared with a spouse. For example, if you plan to spend more than $200 at Target, you should consult your spouse first.

Think Toward the Future

If one spouse simply does not see the need to worry about the retirement or buying your first home, it can be frustrating for a spouse who's a planner. If you are the spouse who worries more you may need to start by asking specific questions about the future, such as purchasing a house and saving for retirement. Often, if you can set goals together then it is easier to get the other spouse on board.

Some people are not planners, but once they realize that the budget will help them reach their goals they are more willing to work on a budget. You can work to get your reluctant spouse on board by illustrating how saving for the future will benefit them, as well.

Get on the Same Page

If you want to stop having financial fights with your partner, it's important to get on the same page. Whether your primary financial goal is to pay down debt, fund your child's college education, or stick to a realistic budget, it's important to communicate to your spouse what is important to you, money-wise.

For example, you can explain how much value you put on his or her willingness to work on a budget. Alternately, be sure you know your partner's financial goals and make working toward them a priority, as well.

Once you're on the same page, you may be surprised at how much more smoothly your finances work—and how much more easily you and your spouse can discuss all things related to money.

Be careful not to turn discussions about the budget into nagging sessions or start throwing accusations at each other about money.

The arguments for health and safety have never been more apparent.

Society has growing expectations regarding good standards of health and safety.

Organisations must ensure that their activities do not harm their employees, contractors, visitors or the public. They are morally, legally and financially obliged to do so.

The moral argument for health & safety

The moral arguments for health and safety relate to ethical and responsible behaviors.

Accidents at work can lead to serious injury, and even death. It’s not morally correct to sacrifice human health for an organisation’s activities.

Therefore the moral argument for health and safety is often the strongest for employees.

Employee rights and expectations

Employees have the right to the provision of a safe place of work. This is implied by the employer’s duty of care. However, there are also expectations placed on employees to exercise reasonable care in their own actions at work.

Employees must therefore behave in a manor which does not jeopardize their own health and safety, or the health and safety of others. This includes co-operating with their employer in the use of safe working practices as provided.

The legal argument for health & safety

Both the employee and the employer have a common law duty of care to each other, and to other employees. Both must exercise reasonable care in order to protect others from the risks of foreseeable injury.

In the UK, the health and safety at work act lays down strict requirements. No-one, except domestic servants, is outside of it’s scope. Employees and employers alike must conform to the act or face the legal consequences.

The financial argument for health & safety

Personal financial loss resulting from an injury at work can have far reaching effects on those involved. The financial loss to the company could be almost as devastating.

Research published in 1993 by the UK Health and Safety Executive showed the highlighted the hidden costs of workplace accidents.

The research showed that the uninsured costs associated with workplace accidents were eight to thirty-six times greater than insured costs.

You’ve heard it before (and might even have personal “data” to back it up): Money is the number one cause of marital strife. Financial planner Jeff Motske, the author of The Couple’s Guide to Financial Compatibility, offers five strategies that you can take to the bank—together.

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1 Think Yours, Mine, and Ours.

A joint account is key so both parties know what’s coming in and going out. But couples should also have individual accounts with a set amount of money to play with every month. How much? Motske suggests 1 percent of a couple’s total combined income for each person. He makes a case: “If you don’t have your own ‘fun money,’ especially if you’re a free spirit, you’ll feel trapped.” This 1 percent is yours. You don’t have to explain what you bought or why, says Motske, “so you don’t have to fight about it.” If separate accounts seem like a pain (though automatic transfer makes the plan a breeze), apply the same practice with cash.

2 Talk Money Over Mojitos.

It seems as if “date night” is the answer to every potential marital bump, and finances are no exception. Motske suggests a once-a-month drink or dinner out where you talk about finances for at least part of the evening—saving for your next vacation, household budgeting, leaving a job. When you know there’s a specific time to go over money issues, there’s less chance for resentment to build, and you’re less likely to ambush each other over, say, an eyebrow-raising credit-card statement. And while you could have your money date at the kitchen table, says Motske, being in public helps keep the discussion productive and prevents a fight. It offers a way “to bring up concerns and grievances without getting emotionally fired up,” he says.

3 Highlight (Don’t Hide) Expenses.

This low-tech exercise brings clarity to spending patterns. Print out credit-card statements and go over them together with three different-colored highlighters. Use one color to mark essential purchases, another for things that make you truly happy, and the last for somewhat mindless purchases. “You’ll be shocked by how much you guys are spending on dumb stuff,” says Motske, who practices this highlighter habit with his spouse monthly. The findings keep all charges out in the open, make anything fraudulent easy to spot, and help you cut down on unnecessary costs so you can put the money toward something more important, like college tuition or a retirement fund.

How to prevent arguments about finances

Facing money problems for couples is not unknown territory. Chances are, if you and your partner are like most couples, money can often be a touchy subject. Unfortunately, studies have proven that fights about finances are able to predict divorce rates. The scary thing is, these arguments can begin even before you and your partner get hitched. Today, we’ve got a few tips to help you avoid and/or resolve these challenges.

Problem #1: Differences in Spending Habits

One of the most common financial issues that a couple may face is how they are going to manage spending. More often than not, one partner gets labeled the “spender” and the other one the “saver,” but labels are never beneficial for a relationship and can lead to tension. When one person takes care of the grocery shopping, bills, and ensuring that the family and home needs are met, and the other spends their money on frivolities, one can see how frustration can easily boil over into arguments. The key to avoiding an argument is to side-step any surprises. A budget will assist in planning out monthly spending so that both parties know how much money is necessary for bills and other living expenses. This will help “the spender” to understand that they are possibly spending too much money on unnecessary things. Creating a budget together is a great way to improve communication and get closer as a couple, as well.

Problem #2: Past Debts

Most people come to the altar with some kind of financial baggage, whether it’s school loans, credit card debt, car loans, or even alimony and child support if this is a second marriage. If you are entering into a relationship and you have a lot of financial strife, it can sometimes feel like you’re dragging your partner down, but it’s important to remember that no one is perfect. Dealing with debt as a couple can actually strengthen a relationship, and in fact, by working together, you can reduce the debt more quickly. Again, working out a plan to pay down your past debt together (even if the debt is one-sided) will increase feelings of being on the same team.

Problem #3: Separate or Joint Accounts?

Should you have separate account for personal expenses and a joint account for household expenses or two totally separate accounts? From which account will you draw money to take care of your children? These are just two examples of the many questions couples frequently find themselves asking when determining how to best merge finances. Many times, this argument can leave one person feeling hurt because they feel that their partner doesn’t trust them enough to share a bank account together. The desire for separate accounts does not indicate that your partner doesn’t want to be close to you. In fact, it can be a good idea to keep separate accounts for many couples. Finding what works for you and your spouse will take time and some “from the heart” conversations. Whether you create a joint account or continue to maintain your own bank accounts, approach this subject with love and care, so as to avoid unintentionally hurting your loved one.

Solution: Good Communication

As we all know, good communication is the key to any successful relationship – romantic or otherwise. In order to navigate the maze of marital finances (spending habits, debt, bank accounts and more) – you need to come together as one. Approach financial conversations with an open mind, while being cognizant and respectful of your partner’s personality and opinions. If at all possible, discuss your ideas about finances when you are still dating. It never hurts to get the ball rolling as soon as possible on a topic as loaded as this one. The sooner you begin to get comfortable talking about money, the better off you’ll be – long after you say “I do.”

Tips on How to Calmly Discuss Financial Issues With Your Partner

How to prevent arguments about finances

Peggy James is an expert in accounting, corporate finance, and personal finance. She is a certified public accountant who owns her own accounting firm, where she serves small businesses, nonprofits, solopreneurs, freelancers, and individuals.

Talking to your spouse about money may not be at the top of your to-do list, but it’s important for your marriage. A lack of communication can lead to fights, busted budgets, and underfunded savings accounts.

According to a study published in 2009 by Jeffrey Dew at Utah State University, couples that fought about money at least once a week were 30% more likely to get divorced.   This is why you need to learn to talk to your partner calmly about your shared financial future.

If you and your partner have struggled with this in the past, try using some of these tips to smooth over the conversation.

Make a Money Date

Talking about money is serious, but it doesn’t have to be an entirely solemn experience. You and your spouse need to set a time for discussing financial issues like the budget, savings, and retirement. However, instead of seeing this as yet another chore to work into your busy schedule, try to view it as a respite from your daily life.

You both should dedicate all of your attention towards this meeting. That's why you need to find a time when neither one of you is distracted by phones or children crying. Make a date out of the occasion by going to a local cafe with free wifi. Bring your laptop along and use this quiet time outside of the house to focus on your financial future.

Make money dates a monthly occurrence to ensure that both of you are meeting your goals and communicating about your progress.

Write Letters

Learn each other’s financial goals by writing a letter to each other outlining your financial plans. The letter can touch on your financial past, including how your family handled money and whether you think you were raised with good financial habits. This gives you insight into each other’s “money mindset.”

After covering your upbringing, discuss present and future issues. For example, would you prefer a single or joint bank account? You may propose that one of you have greater control over the money than the other. Discuss how wealthy you hope to be and what you would sacrifice to get there. Do you plan to pay for your children’s college education? List your retirement dreams and what it would take to get there.

Ask Questions

During your next money date, ask your partner questions about their letter. These questions should both clarify the points outlined in the letter and dive deeper into different aspects of your financial lives.

If you addressed something in your letter that your spouse didn't, this is a chance to get their opinion on that issue. If you didn't understand a point your spouse tried to make in their letter, you need to ask questions until you do, so that you both are sure that you're working toward the same goals. Remember that nobody is right or wrong here, but you both need to be honest so that you can work on figuring out a way to compromise.

Think "We"

Create a realistic budget together based on the future you both want. Write the plan using words like “we” and “us” instead of “me” and “you.” Marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship. If you’re in a spender/saver dynamic, and you’re the saver, be empathetic. Accusations aren’t productive and they put people on the defensive. Your goal should be to get to the root of your money issues, not prove that you’re better with money.

Dig deep to find why one of you is a saver, and the other is a spender. Revisit your letters and look for underlying motivations that explain why and where your financial outlooks diverge.

Listen to Each Other

If your partner feels uncomfortable putting $200 a month in savings, ask why. Is it because the spouse wants to use that money to pay off debt or student loans? Because they want to eat out more and stay at home to eat less? Listen to what your partner says and find out if there is a reasonable compromise. Both partners have to be on the same page for a budget to work.

Talk Through Mistakes

Your spouse may overspend on their portion of the budget. Don't assign blame when this happens. Instead, find ways to prevent it from happening again. As a starting point for the discussion, seek to find out why your spouse overspent, but do so without passing judgment.

For example, did your spouse overspend because car repairs were costlier than expected? Add more money to the “repairs fund” to prevent future problems. Arguing with your partner without understanding what went wrong is a recipe for disaster, as is making assumptions about why they overspent.

This budgeting worksheet can help you and your spouse work through any budgeting complications.

How to prevent arguments about finances

They are about our dreams, our fears, and our inadequacies.

They are about our dreams, our fears, and our inadequacies.

They are about our dreams, our fears, and our inadequacies.

How to prevent arguments about finances

One of the most common sources of conflict in marriage is money, how to spend it, and how to save for things that really matter.

It doesn’t make sense when you think about it logically. Money is simple. Keeping a budget is something an 8-year-old can do.

For a marriage to be wealthy, a couple needs to have more money coming in than going out. It’s just addition and subtraction. Debt needs to be eliminated, and money needs to be saved and invested for the things we want. You know, toes in the sand with a drink in our hand.

If you and your partner follow this rule, you’ll have no financial issues for the rest of your lives. But it doesn’t feel that way, does it? It feels like we need a Master’s degree in Finance and Wealth Management.

Dr. John Gottman wanted to find out, so he went to a group of 8-year-olds and asked them for money advice. He told them he works with moms and dads who are fighting about money, so they can stop fighting and love each other more. All the kids understood this.

He told them a story about a couple.

The husband’s story went like this: “I don’t want to save for tomorrow. I want to live for today. I want to spend money enjoying life. Uncle Jack saved up millions of dollars living in a one room condo and he never went out. He never truly enjoyed life. I don’t want that.”

The wife’s story went like this: “My family grew up poor. We never had any money when an emergency came up or if somebody got sick. We never had enough to plan for the future. When my parents got older and couldn’t work as hard, they had nothing. They couldn’t retire. I don’t want to be like my parents.”

One wants to spend now. The other wants to save for later. They are stuck in financial gridlock.

Dr. Gottman looked at the kids and asked, “What should this mom and dad do?”

A hand shot up. “Save some and spend some.” The other kids looked at each other and agreed.

The 8-year-old believed that the couple should work out a compromise with each other. The best option would be to work hard for a while, put some of the extra money in savings, and use the rest of it to enjoy life so they don’t end up like Uncle Jack.

That’s all it takes. Kids are totally logical.

So what’s wrong with us adults? Why do we struggle with money when an 8-year-old knows what’s best?

Money Isn’t About Money

Money, to a degree, defines us. It determines how we dress. How we eat. What social groups we join. Whether we like it or not, money influences what we can and cannot do with our lives. So where does all this start?

Out of all the forces that determine our relationship with money, the most influential is our personal history – the melting pot of our childhood, teenage, and adult experiences that have sculpted and re-sculpted our likes and dislikes about money throughout our lives.

Our unique experiences come together to form what Dr. Gottman calls our Money Map.

We spend our lives swimming in a sea of moments that sculpt our financial dreams and fears. Maybe it was your father’s gambling problem, or your mother’s uptight way of controlling the household finances. Maybe it was your sister’s expensive interest in riding horses. Maybe it was your wealthy uncle who had a nine car garage, leaving you to feel like you couldn’t measure up.

These, along with thousands of other moments, create our individual beliefs about money.

Money Maps, like Love Maps, are often subtle and difficult to read. You may have grown up with an alcoholic mother who spent food money on liquor, making your meals unpredictable, so you made a promise to yourself that high-quality, expensive food was more important than saving for retirement. Or maybe you were picked on by kids in school for the way you dressed, so you spent all of your savings on custom tailored suits and ate Mac and Cheese every night so you wouldn’t get made fun of.

It’s these personal meanings that guide how we deal with money in our marriage. Logic has very little to do with it.

So when your partner complains about the expensive organic groceries you bought at Whole Foods, or the silk tie that costs more than a plane ticket, an argument breaks out, to you it’s not just food or a tie. These privileges represent stability and success. They protect you. They define you.

Money is loaded with power and meaning that can make can discussions heated and hurtful. Arguments about money aren’t about money. They are about our dreams, our fears, and our inadequacies.

What 8-year-olds don’t understand is that the key to managing conflict about money is to not focus on how much something costs. Instead, it’s to go beneath the dollar value to explore what money really means to each person in the relationship.

To move past these arguments, you need to use conflict about finances to understand how your partner came to be that way. Work together with this new understanding of each other to create shared meaning around money that brings you closer, rather than pushes you apart.

So what does money mean to you in your marriage? Is this different than your partner? Let us know in the comments below.

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