Why less money doesn't have to mean more problems.
We have been living in a financially insecure economy for over seven years and even though in some areas there has been a significant uptick, some of the stress from that has seeped into our relationships, and that has led to a rise in divorces.
70% of married couples fight about money, which is more than they fight about household chores, kids and who left the toilet seat up.
Ironically, for some couples, these fights are actually a great chance to address some larger issues that they are facing. Here are eight actions you can take to save your marriage from being another statistic.
1. Accept you have an issue. Acknowledge with your partner that there is money tension in your marriage and make a date to sit down together to discuss it. Make sure you have total privacy; don't involve your kids, turn your cell phones off and don't have any other distractions.
2. Get organized. Each of you should be making a list of your concerns, pet peeves and things you've always wanted to say but were afraid to bring up. If you think your partner makes poor money decisions (or has unreasonable expectations for how you should spend money), this is the time to discuss it.
3. Be vulnerable. Nothing builds emotional intimacy better than you and your partner admitting your fears, where you ache and what conflicts you struggle with.
4. Know what you want. At the end of the sharing, make a list of goals. They can be things like building a savings account together, agreeing to discuss all purchases over $200 or even taking a temporary position until you find a great full-time job.
5. Have fun. You married each other because you liked each other. Make a list of things to do together without the kids that are more fun than expensive. Focusing on each other is the best investment in your relationship.
6. Keep three accounts: "mine", "yours" and "ours." Decide together how much should be contributed to each account. How much each of you brings home is fairly predictable, so you can create a budget and keep your commitments to each other. This will help build respect and trust between you.
7. Stay on top of the problem. If you are struggling to pay off a debt, have a weekly update so you can stay accountable. This chat will keep you on track with your payments and ensure that important expenses, like your life insurance premium, doesn't get ignored.
8. Build an emergency fund. This fund will keep the panic away when unexpected expenses — the dishwasher goes on the fritz, the transmission in your car needs to be replaced, your dog needs surgery, etc. Make space for this in your budget even it's a small contribution, the consistency of doing builds self-trust.
At the end of the day, you can manage the money issues in your relationship; it just requires you to be frank (without pointing fingers), committed and mature. You chose to marry your partner for a whole range of reasons but sometimes the road gets challenging.
But never fear, sharing the difficulty will make your relationship stronger.
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