Marriage and money

The bad news

Money and how it is spent can be a source of conflict in marriage. Consider:

  • 70 percent of married couples argue about money — ahead of fights about household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring and what’s for dinner.
  • What couples fight about when they argue about money: spending (55 percent), saving (37 percent), deceit (21 percent), exclusion from decisions (11 percent)
  • 22 percent of husbands and wives have spent money they didn’t want a partner to know about; 35 percent dread getting a lecture; women’s top secret purchases were clothing, shoes, gifts for family and friends; men’s top secret purchases were for hobbies and electronics.

source: Money Magazine

Underlying source of the conflict

Our attitudes about money were formed in our family of origin. Herbert Anderson and Robert Fite in “Becoming Married” wrote: “Maxims like ‘A penny saved is a penny earned’ or ‘It only costs a little more money to go first class’ suggest profoundly different attitudes toward money from our families of origin.”

Greg and Lisa Popcak point out in “Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage” that “conflict about money in marriage has little to do with the ins and outs about financial management and everything to do with how you and your spouse feel about money and what money means to you. For some, money means security. For others, money is for fun.” So, we each have our formation growing up and our attitudes and feelings about money.

The good news

The solution to the conflicts is found in the Book of Genesis “the two shall become one” (2:24). This call to unity is a call to be predisposed to see things from a couple perspective. How to become “one” in money matters? Consider:

  • Read Chapter 8, Money Madness, in “Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage” by the Popcaks. (This book is great for the not-so-newly married as well!)
  • Go to an Everyday in Love enrichment (Four three-hour sessions; stream online; or purchase the videos through the archdiocese).
  • Attend a “Living in Love” weekend retreat (offered by the archdiocese).
  • Attend a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend.

All of these resources give the way to safely share on this touchy issue and make it a source of unity.

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