6 Reasons Why Married Couples Fight About Money

The Differences That Lead to Disagreement

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One of the greatest causes of marital disagreement is money. According to survey results from Fidelity, 51% of couples admitted to arguing either frequently or occasionally about their finances. So why do we do this? Why do these conversations get so heated? Here are 6 reasons why you may find yourself arguing with your spouse about money:

  1. Different financial personalities. Are you a spender, or are you a saver? What about your spouse? More than likely, your financial personality differs from your spouse. While the difference in personality may provide some balance to your financial decision-making, it will also create conflict.
  1. Different financial goals. You would like to pay for your kids’ college. Your spouse would like to pay off the mortgage. You both are passionate about your goal, but you cannot do both at the same time. The lack of consensus creates tension anytime tuition or a mortgage payment is due.
  1. Different financial histories. You grew up having little. Your spouse grew up having plenty. Therefore, you find yourself more cautious with money than your spouse. Your prior experience with money shapes your financial preferences, and can create a perspective on money that differs from your spouse.
  1. Different bank accounts. This is a big one. I am always concerned when I hear that married couples have separate accounts. When God created marriage, He intended it to be an all-in deal. For married couples, joint bank accounts communicate trust, transparency, and commitment. Separate accounts communicate the opposite.
  1. Different reactions to financial troubles. Perhaps pointing your fingers at others is your thing. You just blame whoever is sitting closest to you at the time for your woes. Your spouse suppresses their emotions until they can do it no longer, and then there is an explosion of emotions. It is likely you have or will face financial troubles in your life. A job is lost. A medical bill appears in the mail. The economy plummets. When faced with financial turmoil, differing reactions to the situation can prompt arguments.
  1. A lack of perspective. All of us can lose perspective. And when financial turmoil strikes, it can seem as if it is the only thing that matters in life. We become obsessed with it. This loss of perspective can injure our walk with God and our marriage, inevitably leading to a fight.

For a variety of reasons, money can create arguments among married couples. Different financial personalities, goals, histories, accounts, reactions to financial troubles, and a lack of perspective can prompt marital fights.

However, financial matters do not have to bring division to a marriage, but can serve as a point of unification. Click on this link to explore seven steps to bring oneness to your marriage’s money.

How to Get You and Your Spouse on the Same Financial Page

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why Married Couples Fight About Money

  1. Hello Art, I’m not sure that I understand you said why having different bank accounts can be the source of tension. Personally, couples having different bank accounts more for the purpose of management than secrecy. I can see how it might be a source of tension, but it’s not that much more significant than that of a joint account. Thanks.

    • Thank you for your question, Augustus! To respond, let me direct you a prior post – http://bit.ly/1TcmRSU. Also, is there a particular scenario where, for management purposes, it made the most sense to not allow the spouse access to the account?

      • Hello Art,
        I’m not sure why I wasn’t notified when you responded, but thank you for taking my question. I was thinking of circumstances where the couple have their own individual incomes, but for the sake of easy way of organizing spendings separate accounts could be effective.

        However, I read Jeff’s post, and that kind of answered my question. Thank you both! I appreciate the post Art!

        • Great! It is a good question. Multiple accounts for organizing finances is fine, just as long as both have access to them.

  2. We have been working with couples for about 25 years and while I agree with most of your advice, we have seen some situations where separate bank accounts have actually benefited a struggling couple’s marriage by providing some “space” for each to use money as they see fit, to reduce the tension in the marriage and to open up healthier dialogue that can increase intimacy. Ideally, couples could have shared bank accounts, but sometimes, they just need some breathing room while they work through things and work towards getting on the same financial page if they can. Until then, separate yours, mine and our’s accounts can come in very handy!

    • Thank you for your input, Jeff! I could see a need in extreme situations, with the separation being short-term and a goal of combing accounts. As a general rule of thumb, I do believe joint accounts to be healthier, both for a couple’s finances and marriage.