Solutions. When you’re not on the same page financially, the best solution that can be applied in all cases is communication. Couples need to learn to communicate openly and honestly, while also trying to understand their spouse’s point of view rather than taking a “my way or the highway” stance. If you aren’t yet married, it’s very important to communicate about money so that you know what you are getting into. Getting to know your partner’s personality, debt and family situation can give you a good idea of what to expect and what it will take to work together. Take the time to get to know your own money personality, as well. This can help you understand why your spouse may disagree with your decisions and give you direction on how to improve.
Along with that, too many couples spend so much time planning their wedding day that they forget about the actual marriage. Take the time to talk before marriage about how you plan to deal with money. Be aware of what the future may look like financially, and talk about common goals that can help you work together to be successful.
If you are already in the thick of things, avoid marginalizing or patronizing your spouse, no matter which side of the coin you are on, especially in a “power play” situation. The resentment that is bred by being made to feel inferior may go on long after the money issue itself is resolved.
When it comes to extended family, decide early on that the family you created at marriage is the No. 1 priority. Have a policy on what you will and won’t do when it comes to extended family. Never agree to something regarding extended family without speaking with your spouse first, and be sensitive to any apprehension your spouse may exhibit during the conversation.
If debt is an issue, recognize that when you were married, you chose to marry that person along with his or her debt. Unless the debt was concealed, it’s not helpful to discuss who brought how much into the marriage. Rather than laying blame, work as a team to get rid of it.
If things are so bad that you are considering separating your finances in order to avoid future problems, it may be a good time to seek professional help. After all, money is generally not the root of money problems in marriage, rather there is an underlying selfishness and pride that needs to be addressed. Working with a professional counselor can help you identify the problems and find meaningful solutions.
In all things, remember the worth of your marriage. Money issues can wreak havoc and replace love and happiness with hurt and bitterness. In most cases, the issues themselves are marginal in comparison to the importance of your relationship. Be willing to compromise in order to preserve happiness, but don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Be open and honest, but refrain from being condescending or inconsiderate. Rather than focusing on the problem, focus on the solution and how you can improve your relationship. As you do so, you will see changes that may surprise you for the better.
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