Disagreements over money are said to be the number one reason for divorces in America. With over half of all marriages ending in break ups, the importance of having firm agreements about money cannot be overlooked if a couple wishes to live happily ever after.
Let’s face it. Marriage is the union of two hearts as well as two bank accounts. In order for a marriage to endure, there have to be established agreements in place about how the couple’s money will be spent or they risk becoming a part of the divorce statistic.
What our parents or grandparents expected of each other in a marriage may not necessarily apply to today’s modern couple. While many traditional aspects of marriage are still in place, others are obsolete. It used to be that the husband was the sole provider for the family while the wife stayed home and cared for the house and children. While this may still be the case for some couples, stay-at-home mothers and housewives are a vanishing breed as the majority of couples are both in the workforce today. In many cases, the wife makes more money than her husband.
Have the new roles changed the way a marriage works? Does this mean that the one who makes more money should pay the majority of the household expenses? Should the wife stay at home and care for the children while the husband provides for the family? Should the wife divide her time between family and part-time work? There are no one-size-fits-all answers on how two married people should divide the financial responsibilities and it comes down to making workable agreements that satisfy both partners.
Take for example, a young married couple. Both are working professionals and contributing equally to the household. But the wife dreams of being a mother someday and plans on staying at home to raise the children. In her mind, this is what her mother did and this is the correct way to go about starting a family. But the husband has a different idea. His mother worked full-time and hired a nanny to take care of the house and children and this is what he expects his wife to do. Because the issue of how to raise a family didn’t come up until three years into the marriage when the wife became pregnant, the couple now find themselves sitting on a fundamental disagreement with no apparent solution. They start arguing and because the wife is no longer working, they have less income to live on. The stress builds as the bills pile up and they seem to be arguing constantly. The wife demands that the husband get a better job and make enough money to provide for his family while the husband tells his wife that she needs to work as well as raise their child. They’re both miserable.
Had this couple talked openly about their ideals and needs before they got married, they could have established agreements about these issues. Communication about money is vital to making a marriage work.
But all is not lost. There are ways for couples to come to mutual agreements and the roles each partner will play. Here are four tips to balance true love and your checkbook at the same time.
- Talk about the roles of each partner and what each will contribute to the family. Come to reasonable agreements that you’re both happy with.
- If you find that you and your partner are constantly arguing over money, ask yourself if the marriage would be harmonious if money wasn’t an issue. Because a lack of money can be stressful, many couples give up and split when times are tough.
- If the majority of the arguments are about money or lack of, sit down and sort out the fundamental disagreements you have with each other.
- Whatever you do, don’t stop talking about the issues. Almost any problem can be solved through communication. Even if you’re screaming at each other, that’s far better than saying nothing.
Assuming that you and your partner married for love, the key to making the relationship work is the establishment of mutual agreements about the important issues. Take time to listen to your partner, present your argument and try to come to a solution.