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Financial disagreements can put some pretty serious strain on a marriage. Growing research continues to show that when couples are experiencing money problems, it can easily cause conflict in their marriage.

Separate Finances

Having separate finances doesn’t mean that your marriage is destined to fail, as many couples have separate finances and happy, successful marriages. It’s more about the thought process behind having separate finances. If you elect to have separate finances in order to hide things from your spouse, or because you don’t trust your spouse, this may point to a deeper issue. Many couples also elect to separate their finances so that they cannot see each other’s spending habits. For example, a wife may not want her husband knowing how much money she spends on DoTA 2 every month, and her husband may not want her to know how much money he spends on home decor every month. Separating finances so that you do not have to be held accountable for your purchases is not advisable. If you’re hiding your purchases because you believe your spouse will be upset about them, it may be a good idea to sit down together and get on the same page about finances.

Lending Money

Here’s a good guideline for lending money: don’t lend anything that you need to have repaid. Even if someone genuinely intends to pay you back there are no guarantees that they actually will. One of the fastest ways to add tension in a marriage is to start lending money to your family members or friends, especially ones who are unlikely to pay it back. Many people feel pressured to help out those close to them when the need arises. That pressure may increase if a family member is already counting on the person’s financial assistance. Tension further increases when a person needs to choose between supporting their family, or financially supporting their friend or extended family member. And the tension can get really high if the person receiving financial support only needs assistance because they’ve mismanaged their money. If you can afford to spare some money, and your friends or family members are genuinely in need, then there’s nothing wrong with helping them out. But if you’re already struggling, and your friends or extended family members rely on you to fix their financial mistakes, that may cause problems.

Lots of Debt

Having a lot of debt can add a lot of stress to a marriage. Research shows that couples that couples who have more debt are more likely to split up. Not only was taking on debt shown to decrease marital satisfaction, but paying off debt was shown to increase marital satisfaction. If you and your spouse are overwhelmed by debt, it’s not too late to fix things. There are non-profit credit counseling programs that are designed to help those struggling create an action plan to pay off their debt and budget for the future. These programs are often available for free or low cost.

Financial Infidelity

Financial infidelity occurs when one person hides financial dealings with their spouse. In most cases, people aren’t hiding massive bank account balances. Instead, they’re usually hiding debt, or large purchases. It’s not uncommon for people to feel as though they’ve been betrayed by their spouse when they find out about the financial infidelity. When two people are married, they are typically joined financially whether they have separate finances or not. Barring prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, people are generally somewhat responsible for their spouse’s financial dealings. So when your spouse opens up a credit card and secretly runs up the balance, you could be stuck with half the debt in the event of divorce, especially if the items purchased benefitted yourself as well.

Very Different Financial Goals

You and your spouse should be on the same page about your financial goals. Perhaps you don’t need to completely agree on how every dime should be spent. That’s okay, compromise is part of marriage. But you should agree on the bigger picture and your long term goals. If you’re trying to retire at 45 and your spouse doesn’t really see the point in a savings account, let alone investing in a 401k, that may be a problem. Depending on how different your goals are, it may be necessary to go to marital counseling in order to navigate these differences together. If you’re having issues because you’ve got different financial goals, it’s a good idea to work on navigating those differences as soon as you possibly can.

When You’re Ready to File

Though we’re divorce lawyers, we’re not necessarily pro-divorce. Our goal is to empower others with the information necessary to make the best decisions for their marriage, and for themselves. While many couples can work through financial issues together, not every marriage is able to be saved, especially when financial infidelity has occurred. If you’re considering divorce, and you’re ready to explore your rights, contact CoilLaw today to get started on your initial consultation.


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