I’ve heard it said many times that money problems is the leading cause of marital distress and divorce. However more and more the research is showing that financial problems is NOT the cause of divorce (Click here to read the whole article by Liz Pulliam Weston). In speaking with couples in distress, many times there are arguments and disagreements about money and it is how these differences are (or are not) resolved that can become problematic in a marriage.
How couples navigate through their differences surrounding finances is likely the same style they use when navigating through other differences they have, so it’s important to not just look at ‘what’ is being argued about but also consider ‘how’ it is being resolved. Money has a multitude of meanings and each person in a marriage may place different meaning and significance on money. Couples need to make openness and transparency a part of their discussions around money so they are both aware of how the other sees and values finances in the marriage.
The issue in my eyes that leads couples to divorce is when one or both persons begin to develop a sense that their partner no longer cares about their feelings and or their is no longer an emotional connection between them. Differences and disagreements around money then highlight these feelings of ‘lack of care for my thoughts/feelings, or ‘my partner and I no longer seem to be on the same page in life’.
Couples need to know their ‘bottom line’ what they both agree on (i.e. I love you and want us to be happy, I am going to stay in this for life, I am going to work through the differences no matter how challenging etc.) Once established, couples must intentionally work at building and strengthening that bottom line and sense of togetherness so that this permeates through every challenge they face with money or any other disagreement.
Feelings come and go, research has shown that the ‘in love’ stage lasts at most for about 2 years then fades away, so there must be more than ‘feelings’ keeping a marriage together. Couples must be intentional about maintaining intimacy and a strong emotional bond with each other. This intimacy and bond cannot happen without working through differences and getting back to their common ‘bottom line’.