By Rachael Pace
Marriage is a beautiful thing. It is two committed people building their lives together. But when you said “I do,” you likely never imagined you’d be living through a global pandemic causing severe financial stress for millions, and money worries would come between you and your spouse.
Financial problems and financial stress can impact your marriage in many different ways. Your health, emotional and physical intimacy, and home can all be negatively affected by money matters. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to make marriage and finance work together.
Don’t let your finances put unnecessary stress on your relationship or cause unhappiness in your marriage. Here are five ways financial problems can negatively affect a marriage, and what you can do to strengthen your relationship so you can solve your difficulties together.
How financial problems can harm your marriage
1. Increases stress
Your marriage should not be something that makes you feel worse about yourself; it should be your sanctuary. But somehow, when you mix marriage and finance, it’s a recipe for stress. And research shows that couples who are in a low-income situation are more likely to be affected by stress and mental health problems.
Stress doesn’t just raise your irritation levels. Experts find that stress can hurt a marriage and one’s physical and mental health. Having an abundance of stress in your life can lead to:
- Upset stomach
- Lack of patience
- Angry outbursts
- Changes in eating
- A change in sex drive/lower libido, limiting important intimacy that promotes bonding in a marriage
- Difficulty sleeping
- Higher blood pressure
This is a short list compared to all of the emotional and physical problems stress can have on your health and in your marriage.
2. Builds resentment
Fighting about money is not a new phenomenon for couples. In a study of over 740 instances of marital conflict between 100 couples, money was found to be the most common and recurring topic couples argue about.
If you and your spouse continually talk about the same financial topics without resolving any issues, it could lead to resentment in your relationship. You may start to feel like your spouse isn’t listening to you or that they don’t care about your feelings.
3. Damages communication and trust
In a survey about money, 68% of couples admitted they would rather reveal how much they weigh than share how much money is in their savings account. These findings highlight just how difficult it is for couples to speak openly about their finances.
When financial problems crops up in your marriage, it can hurt your communication skills and damage trust between you and your partner.
4. Turns couples against each other
Can money really turn happy couples against one another? Without a doubt, the answer is yes. Financial problems within a marriage can lead to one spouse overspending, being stingy with finances, or feeling like they know better than their spouse on how to handle the monthly bills.
Couples must come to an understanding of how household finances are to be spent, saved, and shared if they want their marriage to survive over time.
5. Reduces opportunities
Experts agree that financial hardships can reduce opportunities for your future as a couple. Losing your job, bringing a significant amount of debt into the marriage, or having poor credit can severely limit the financial options you have as a married couple. A lack of income can prevent you from buying a house, buying a car, traveling, saving for retirement, and even starting a family.
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4 ways to solve financial problems together
1. Talk openly
Communication is the cornerstone of a successful marriage. Studies show that couples who communicate with one another in a positive manner experience higher levels of marital satisfaction and less negativity in the relationship. Partners must learn how to communicate effectively if they want to work together to tackle and resolve financial problems.
Great communication involves listening to your partner without interruption or distractions. They should feel that they have your undivided attention. If you want to communicate well, you must validate your spouse’s feelings, be honest, and be kind and respectful during disagreements. Being approachable in this way will help your partner feel more comfortable coming to you with money matters.
2. Start prioritizing
Budgeting and prioritizing is a big part of making your finances work in marriage. While in between jobs or dealing with a reduced household income, couples must learn to budget their money.
Prioritize what is important. For example, if your spouse has decided to stay home for the next year to raise your child before going back to work, you may remove excessive spending from your yearly budget, perhaps forgoing vacations, restaurant meals, or any unnecessary purchases during this time.
3. Accept help
Don’t be too proud to accept help from friends, family, or your spouse during times of trouble. If you are deep in debt and it is causing stress, and slowly eating away at your happiness and possibly your ability to keep your home, it would be unwise to turn away any help.
Similarly, if you have accumulated personal debt before getting married, do not deny your spouse the opportunity to help you pay it off.
4. Set goals
One way you can find joy when assessing your marriage and finances is to set small, achievable goals. For example, make it a goal to save $50 to $100 a month. This is money you can eventually put toward travel, renovating your home, going out on monthly date nights, or even squirreling away in case of emergency.
And when you achieve your goals, be sure to celebrate them. Studies show that couples who validate one another’s feelings with positivity experience a closer emotional connection than couples who do not celebrate one another.
Take control of your financial future
Even with the best budgeting, financial problems can still happen. Don’t let it take away the happiness in your relationship. Talk openly, prioritize your spending, set goals, and accept help. This will help you blend marriage and finances in a way that does not leave you wishing for a divorce.
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