Married couples and money psychology

The money personalities of Savers and Spenders don’t have to cause stress in a marriage (though they often do). These psychology tips can help married couples manage their finances with minimal or no conflict; they’re based on advice from “The Money Couple” and authors of First Comes Love, Then Comes Money (Harper Collins 2009), Scott and Bethany Palmer.

Married couples and money psychology

Recognize Different Money Personalities

The first tip for resolving financial conflict in marriage is to become aware of how Savers and Spenders view money. It doesn’t help to keep fighting about the credit card bills or mortgage payments! What may work better is to talk about how parents, childhood experiences, and marriage affect spending and saving habits. To peacefully manage finances, both spouses need to be aware of how the past affects their money psychology.

Remember the Intentions of the Spender or Saver

The second tip for managing finances is to remember the intentions of each spouse. For instance, the Saver isn’t trying to make life boring or unhappy for the Saver and the Spender isn’t trying to bring financial ruin to the Saver!

Each person is acting according to his or her own psyche or money personality. In all probability, neither is deliberately trying to cause financial hardship. Keeping this in mind can help Savers and Spenders resolve money problems and make decisions more peacefully.

Become Aware of How Spouses Show Love

The third tip involves showing love in marriage. “The Saver tends to freak out when her partner spends on something she deems frivolous,” say Scott and Bethany Palmer in The Money Couple.

“In her mind, things like flowers are nice for a day or two, but then they wilt and all you have left is a bill for $60.” These financial communication experts encourage couples to go beyond looking at the intentions behind flamboyant romantic gestures, and see how love is being shown. For some money personalities — especially Spenders — gifts are a way of showing love and thoughtfulness.

Schedule Regular Conversations About Finances in Marriage

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The fourth tip is what The Money Couple calls a Money Huddle: regularly scheduled discussions about future financial plans, current investments, the household budget, bill and debt payments, etc. Their tips for talking about money for married couples include setting a budget for special occasions, such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day, so couples don’t suddenly reveal spending or saving surprises.

“Knowing there’s room in the budget for romance not only gives Spenders freedom to show love without worrying about a backlash, but also encourages Savers to do little splurging as well!”

Recognize the Effect Saving or Spending Has on Spouses

This final tip is what money psychology is about, because it revolves around easing stress in specific ways. For example, Spenders feel exhilarated and satisfied when they find the perfect gift – such as champagne and roses for their spouse. “But if Spenders want to romance their Savers, they have to recognize that all the champagne and roses in the world will fall flat if they create stress in their Savers,” say the Palmers.

Spending money can create anxiety for Savers, which increases conflict in the relationship. For Savers, the feeling of socking away an extra few hundred dollars for a rainy day or a trip to Hawaii offers a rush of happiness! But, saving money all the time without making enjoyable purchases can feel frustrating and boring for Spenders. Finding a healthy balance between saving and spending can help resolve financial stress in relationships.

Spenders and savers need to recognize that sometimes a little understanding and compromise can be the most loving gesture of all.

Related Reading on Money Psychology

How to Find the Motivation to Reduce Personal Debt describes psychological ways to pay off outstanding bills and save more money. Increasing the incentive to reduce personal debt is the most powerful way to increase wealth!

Keep Debt from Destroying Your Marriage

Many experts agree that money issues are the main reason for divorce and marital issues in the U.S. Dave Ramsey, author, radio talk show host, and television show host, says, “After years as a financial counselor and working with marriage counselors, I know that money and money fights are the #1 cause of divorce…” Several recent news reports of domestic murder-suicides indicate that job losses or extreme levels of debt were at least underlying causes, if not the primary cause, of the mental breakdown of the apparent perpetrators.

While most Americans are not in danger of such extreme distorted reactions to their finances, the current economic crisis has underscored the financial pressures on many families. There are strategies that couples and families can use to strengthen their relationship instead of allowing debt and money pressure to destroy it.

Hiding Debt from a Spouse

marriage counseling

There are two types of money issues that can destroy a marriage. The first money issue occurs when one spouse hides debt from the other. Broken trust in a marriage is very difficult and time consuming to repair. Whether the hidden debt is a result of spending sprees, gambling, or some other cause, each spouse is responsible to the other spouse in a marriage.

Hidden debts are usually a signal of deeper marital issues. If for no other reason, the offending spouse, through his or her actions, indicates that the habit or addiction is valued more than the marriage itself. Couples can work through this type of issue, but may require some counseling. In some instances, the offender may need counseling and family support to stop or reduce the habit and the couple may need additional support or counseling to help rebuild any lost trust.

High Levels of Debt

The second money issue occurs when finances are out in the open, but high levels of debt and the resulting instability created by such debt creates stress on the relationship. Generally, men tend to be riskier and are less likely to accumulate a large emergency account. Men would rather use that money as a means to invest for larger returns or spend it on something status related (type of vehicle, etc.). Women are generally more security oriented and are more likely to sleep better at night knowing there is a large emergency fund available in the event of a job loss or a large unexpected expense, such as a medical expense.

The key is for the couples to openly discuss their current money situation and to discuss a plan that would make each of them feel better and less stressed about money. In many cases, the two will find common elements that they can start to work towards right away (such as pay off debt). In other instances the couple may start to understand each others’ goals and see their financial situation through their partner’s perspective.

Not All News is Bad News

There is a silver lining to the financial pressure created by the current economy. Rabbi Shmuley, a guest on Oprah Radio, pointed out that, “Financial pressures afford an opportunity for husbands and wives to become closer.” Couples can use this current economic correction as an opportunity to correct their own personal finances. Now is the time to open up to each other, work together as a team towards common goals, and change their current path towards one of wealth and stability. By opening up better communication channels, the couple will have a stronger, healthier, and more successful marriage.

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