How Money Issues Can Ruin Your Relationship (and solutions)

Living with someone, whether you are married or not, requires unwavering trust and transparency. And money problems can crop up in almost any relationship. But can money issues ruin a relationship?

Financial troubles can devastate any committed relationship, regardless of how long you’ve been together. Arguments and anger can arise when spouses disagree about spending and saving practices. And financial infidelity can be almost as bad as romantic infidelity.

But that’s not all there is to know about relationships and money.

So in this article, we’ll look at couples’ finances, both married and not. And we’ll explore the best practices to follow no matter what the income level. That way, you can steer clear of what can be the worst problems couples face.

Just keep reading to find out!

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Table of Contents:

How do money problems affect relationships?

How each spouse spends money has an impact on every area of their lives, from whether they’ll be able to afford to have children to what kind of home they’ll be able to buy and how comfortable they’ll be in retirement.

It’s not just about romantic gestures when it comes to building a relationship and sharing a life. When you’re in a committed relationship, you develop a financial partnership as well.

There are several money problems that can have adverse impacts on your relationship. Those include:

1. Financial infidelity

Being secretive or dishonest when it comes to finances is a big one.

Financial infidelity is a form of dishonesty in relationships that involves one partner hiding or lying about their financial activities from the other. It can take many forms, such as:

  • hiding debt
  • spending money without telling the other partner
  • having secret accounts

This type of dishonesty can have a huge impact on relationships.

It can lead to feelings of mistrust and betrayal, as well as a lack of communication and understanding between partners. It can also cause financial stress and strain on the relationship, as one partner may be left feeling like they are carrying the burden of all the financial responsibilities.

In addition to these issues, financial infidelity can also lead to arguments and disagreements over money.

This can be especially damaging if it leads to one partner feeling like they are not being heard or respected in regards to their financial decisions. This type of conflict can be difficult to resolve and may even lead to a breakdown in the relationship.

Finally, financial infidelity can also have an emotional impact on both partners.

One partner may feel embarrassed or ashamed for not being honest about their finances, while the other may feel hurt and betrayed by their partner’s dishonesty. This emotional damage can be difficult to repair and may even lead to long-term resentment between partners.

Overall, financial infidelity is a serious issue that has far-reaching consequences for relationships. It is important for couples to discuss their finances openly and honestly in order to avoid any potential issues that could arise from this type of dishonesty.

Sharing bank accounts can curb financial infidelity.

But it can also make sure you are both on the same financial page when it comes to paying the bills, paying down debt, and saving for the future.

To read more about why you should share a bank account with your partner, read this recent article. I got into not only why it works but what your odds are if you DON’T combine them.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

2. One spouse being controlling of the other’s spending

One spouse being controlling of the other’s spending can damage or destroy the relationship. It can create a feeling of mistrust and resentment between the two partners. This can lead to arguments and a breakdown in communication.

When one partner is controlling of the other’s spending, it can make them feel like they are not trusted or respected.

This can lead to feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. It can also make them feel like their opinion doesn’t matter, which can be damaging to their sense of self-worth.

The controlling partner may also become resentful if their partner spends money without consulting them first. This resentment can lead to arguments and further damage the relationship. The controlling partner may also become possessive and jealous if they feel their partner is spending too much money on things that don’t benefit them both equally.

The lack of trust and respect that comes with one spouse being controlling of the other’s spending can have a long-term effect on the relationship. It can cause both partners to become distant from each other, leading to a lack of intimacy and connection between them.

This lack of connection can eventually lead to the end of the relationship altogether.

It is important for couples to discuss finances openly and honestly in order to maintain a healthy relationship.

Both partners should be able to express their opinions without fear of judgment or criticism from the other person. They should also be able to trust each other enough that they don’t feel like they need to control each other’s spending habits in order for things to work out between them.

3. Not working together on common goals

A couple not working together on common financial goals can have a devastating effect on their relationship. When couples don’t discuss their financial goals and plans, it can lead to feelings of mistrust and resentment.

Without a shared vision for the future, couples may find themselves in disagreement over how to spend or save money. This can lead to arguments and tension in the relationship.

When couples don’t have a plan for their finances, it can also lead to financial insecurity.

Without a plan, couples may find themselves unable to pay bills or save for retirement. This can cause stress and anxiety in the relationship, which can further damage the bond between them.

It’s important for couples to talk openly about their financial goals and plans.

They should discuss how they want to save money, what investments they want to make, and how they will handle debt. Having these conversations early on in the relationship will help ensure that both partners are on the same page when it comes to finances.

Married couples should also make sure that they are both contributing financially towards common goals.

This could mean setting up a joint bank account or budgeting together each month. By working together towards common financial goals, couples can build trust and strengthen their bond with one another.

4. Not combining income and expenses as one when married

When a couple gets married, it is important to consider how they will manage their finances. Not combining income and expenses as one can damage or destroy the relationship.

After all; a marriage is a joining and combining of two lives. It doesn’t make sense to only do that some of the time.

When two people come together, they bring different financial backgrounds and habits. It is important to discuss these differences and come up with a plan that works for both of them.

Not having a joint account can also create problems in a marriage.

It can be difficult for both partners to keep track of their expenses if they are not combined into one account. This can lead to arguments over who is responsible for what bills or who should pay for what items.

Finally, not combining income and expenses as one when married can lead to feelings of inequality in the relationship. One partner may feel like they are carrying more of the financial burden than the other, which can cause resentment and hurt feelings.

Overall just put all income in one bank account and pay all expenses from that account.

Who makes what, or whose bills are who’s doesn’t matter. It’s no longer yours and mine, it’s ours. Once you make that mindset shift and have regular communication about spending, you’ll be well on your way to financial success.

What percentage of relationships fail because of money?

33% (660,000) of marriages fail every year in the United States due to some sort of financial issues, including not being able to pay bills, financial infidelity, and simply not being able to live the lifestyle one or both parties wished to be able to.

(source)

Many marriages are hampered by financial disagreements. It’s no surprise that financial issues are a top cause of divorce when over a third of individuals with partners say money is a major source of tension in their relationships.

According to a recent survey by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA), money concerns are the third most common reason for divorce in the United States, after incompatibility and adultery.

It’s worth noting that the study inquired about the “principal cause of divorce,” so money considerations could have played a role in other divorces without being the primary cause.

In fact, according to this study published in the Family Relations journal, arguing early on about money may be the number 1 predictor of whether or not you’ll get divorced in the future.

The authors concluded that “Financial disagreements did predict divorce more strongly than other common problem areas like disagreements over household tasks or spending time together.”

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that divorce rates are high for couples that have disagreements about money.

Budgeting is a good way to stay on top of finances. You can easily see how much money you have coming in and going out. You can see where you need to cut spending and find ways to grow your savings.

There are several budgeting apps out there that are great for couples to stay on the same page.

In this recent article, I talk about the best budgeting apps for couples. Luckily there are several great ones available, and almost all of them are free or at least have a free option. But 1 is clearly better than all the rest.

Just click the link to read about them on my site.

Is marrying someone with no money a bad idea?

Marrying someone with no money is not likely to lead to a successful marriage. But if they at least have a plan to earn a higher income in the near future, that can lead to success. But bad habits and no plan for the future are likely to mean their financial situation is unlikely to improve.

Not having money is a molehill that can be overcome. Being bad with money is a mountain.

First, ask yourself who makes the most money in the relationship. If you’re asking if it’s a bad idea to marry someone with no money, I’m going to assume you are the breadwinner in this scenario. And that’s okay.

Next, consider who spends the most money and on what.

When it comes to money, you need to be on the same page. Is your partner already in a lot of debt as a result of their excessive spending? Do they make purchases that you would consider frivolous?

Differences in spending, like all money issues, don’t have to spell the end of the relationship; nonetheless, you must be conscious of them and fully accept them, or they will just cause problems.

Finally, what are your long-term goals? Do your financial goals and those of your partner line up? Do you want to live simply in a cottage while they yearn for annual visits to the south of France?

Do you prefer expensive cars, while they think a Honda is a better choice?

All of these are things to think about when getting ready to marry. If your partner has no money but has the same financial goals and attitude towards money, they can earn money and learn how to be good with finances.

On the other hand, if your partner is bad with money, and your attitudes concerning finances are on opposite ends of the spectrum, that is a greater hurdle to get over.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

Can you legally have separate finances in a marriage?

You can have separate bank and credit cards in a marriage, but legally everything acquired after the marriage will be considered joint assets and debts. So having separate bank accounts won’t protect your money if you get divorced or one files for bankruptcy.

Some financial experts agree that having different bank accounts or a “yours, mine, and ours” approach is the best way to manage money in a marriage.

But the benefit of this type of system is mostly psychological rather than legal.

And personally, I think everything should become “ours” once you say “I do”. After all, you didn’t agree to share your life with this person some of the time or only under certain circumstances.

If you live in a community property state, everything you earn throughout your marriage — including the money you put into those separate accounts — is considered “community property” and belongs to both spouses.

Most states operate under equitable distribution laws. Generally, this means that property acquired during the marriage belongs to the spouse that earned it.

While this sounds easy, a good attorney will be able to argue that any assets obtained by either spouse during the marriage should be regarded as “marital property” and divided.

Any assets are usually split fairly, although not always evenly.

A judge may also decide to use one spouse’s separate property to support a settlement that is equitable to both spouses. So while it is perfectly legal to have separate finances in a marriage, it’s not as beneficial as one might think.

How do I protect myself financially from my spouse?

Protect yourself financially from your spouse by having a separate bank account and using a credit monitoring system to alert you to new accounts created in your name or changes to your credit report.

Of course, if you feel you need to protect yourself financially from your spouse, you have a marriage problem, not a money problem.

But if you aren’t married yet, the easiest and best way to protect yourself is to get a prenuptial agreement.

According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, over two-thirds of lawyers have witnessed an increase in the total amount of people obtaining prenups in recent years.

Lawyers claim that millennials, in particular, are increasingly using them.

Having a prenup forces couples to talk about finances. There’s a lot to be said about having conversations about finances before tying the knot. Talk about goals and plans and managing money. You can always modify or even nullify the prenup later on down the road.

Always keep inheritance completely separate. Inheritances are typically not considered marital property, and if it is commingled, it will be hard to reclaim in the event of a divorce.

If you are simply concerned about your partner’s spending habits, talk to them about budgeting.

Having a budget is a great way to see exactly what you have coming in and going out. But it should definitely be done together.

If you feel like your spouse is the reason you are headed down a bad path, don’t blame or hurl accusations. Instead, be united in your financial goals and choices. You may find that you just have different ideas when it comes to long-term goals.

In order to find the same footing, you must be in communication and agreement.

Make a budget, discuss expenses, and check-in with one another until it becomes a habit. To read more about budgeting and getting your spouse to stick to a budget, check out this recent article. I got into exactly what to do if your spouse is out of control, AND how to do it without a fight!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Should I manage finances separately if I’m not married?

Do not combine finances or assets until you are married. After all, if a married couple divorces, the courts determine how the assets and debts get divided. Unmarried couples have no protection and will be at each other’s mercy.

So yea, co-sign that lease together on an apartment. But don’t do much beyond that.

This doesn’t have anything to do with trust or love. Things happen, and relationships break up all the time. Sometimes even on the day of the wedding.

With a girlfriend, boyfriend, or fiancé, there is no judge or decree saying what is fair when it comes to splitting up finances and assets. There are no laws or guidelines specifying what needs to happen.

For example, if you purchase a house with a partner before you get married, and that partner leaves, what? You get stuck with a house that you may not want to live in anymore and the mortgage that comes with it.

You suddenly went from having two incomes to pay the bills to one. 

You won’t be able to do anything with the house, either. You won’t be able to sell it, refinance it, or remodel it without the consent of the other mortgage holder. It will be a giant mess.

But if you had been married, a judge could have ordered that the house be sold and the money split. Or they could order that one partner must buy out the other partner.

But until you are married, it is always a good idea to talk about money. Talk about debt, income, bills, and future plans.

But it is in both of your best interests to keep all of your money and debt separate until you officially say “I do.” Don’t get any joint accounts, co-sign loans, or make large purchases together until then.

Is it better to keep finances separate when married?

Married couples stand a much better chance of staying married when they combine finances. Marriage is, after all, a union of not only two people but their assets as well.

For marriage to succeed, both partners must view it as a joining; a true union. For better or worse, both partners must go all-in.

While you may think that keeping finances separate will ease financial tension in a relationship, that line of thinking isn’t necessarily true.

When you manage your money on your own, it may be more difficult to achieve certain goals.

Let’s imagine one of the partners wants to buy a property, but the other doesn’t have enough money for a down payment. This will likely result in an argument. Talking about upcoming purchases and planning for a common goal will result in fewer arguments and a stronger marriage.

Younger couples tend to argue more about money. They are also less likely to combine income and share expenses.

Money fights and money problems are often at the top of the list when it comes to reasons for divorce. Combining finances is one of the best ways to minimize that.

There are also tax benefits to having joint bank accounts.

Couples who file taxes separately might end up paying more taxes than those who file jointly. Filing jointly will typically get you more tax deductions and credits.

How to talk about money when you are dating

Talking about money matters can be tricky when you’re dating someone. Romantic relationships ebb and flow, and can get complicated. But financial stress and financial struggles can easily derail even the best relationships.

So once you’re dating exclusively and see a long-term future together, a few key things need to happen.

First, it’s important to be honest and open with your partner about your financial situation. This will help you both understand each other’s expectations and needs when it comes to money.

Second, set boundaries around spending and saving. Discuss what you both feel comfortable with in terms of budgeting, debt, investments, etc. This will help ensure that you’re both on the same page when it comes to managing finances.

Finally, make sure that you’re both comfortable discussing money openly and honestly. It’s important to be respectful of each other’s opinions and feelings when it comes to finances. This will help ensure that the conversation is productive and not confrontational.

Here are the top things that need to be discussed once you are serious, committed, and exclusive:

Financial Planning

Talking about money when you are dating exclusively in a committed relationship is an important part of the relationship. It is important to discuss financial planning and how you both plan to manage your finances. This includes discussing budgeting, saving, and spending habits.

Saving vs Spending

Discussing how much each of you saves versus how much each of you spends is important. Some people are natural savers and others natural spenders. Both are OK, but it’s good to know how each of you operates.

This will help you both understand each other’s financial goals and priorities. It will also help you both plan for the future together.

How Much Debt Each Of You Have

It is important to discuss any debt that either of you has. This includes student loans, credit card debt, car loans, etc. Knowing this information can help you both plan for the future and make sure that any debt is managed responsibly.

If You Regularly Use Credit Cards To Pay For Expenses

If either of you regularly uses credit cards to pay for expenses, it is essential to discuss how this affects your overall financial situation.

Discussing how much credit card debt each of you has and how it affects your overall financial situation can help ensure that any credit card debt is managed responsibly.

Credit Score

Discussing credit scores can be an important part of talking about money when dating exclusively in a committed relationship.

Knowing each other’s credit scores can help both parties understand their overall financial situation and make sure that any debts are managed responsibly.

Views On Joint Bank Accounts

Discussing views on joint bank accounts can be an important part of talking about money when dating exclusively in a committed relationship.

Knowing each other’s views on a joint bank account can help both parties understand their overall financial goals and priorities and make sure that any joint accounts are managed responsibly.

But the best practice is to not have a joint account prior to marriage.

Income

Discussing income can be an important part of talking about money when dating exclusively in a committed relationship.

Knowing each other’s income levels can help both parties understand their overall financial situation and make sure that any debts are managed responsibly.

How can couples get past money problems?

Financial problems can be a major source of stress in relationships.

Couples need to be honest and open with each other about their finances in order to get past money issues. I am a firm believer that unmarried couples should keep finances separate. But then definitely combine everything once married.

Married couples

Money problems can be a major source of stress in a marriage.

To get past money problems, married couples should start by having an honest conversation about their finances. Many couples make the mistake of hiding their heads in the sand. Or the husband lets pride get in the way of honest discussion.

They should discuss their financial goals and how they plan to achieve them. They should also talk about their spending habits and how they can make changes to save money.

It is important for married couples to create a budget that works for both of them.

This budget should include all of their expenses, including bills, groceries, entertainment, and savings. They should also set up a system for tracking their spending so they can stay on top of their finances.

Finally, married couples should consider seeking professional help if needed. A financial advisor or marriage counselor can help them create a plan to get out of debt and manage their money better in the future.

Unmarried couples

Money problems can be just as stressful for unmarried couples as they are for married ones.

To get past money problems, unmarried couples should start by having an honest conversation about their finances. They should discuss their financial goals and how they plan to achieve them. They should also talk about their spending habits and how they can make changes to save money.

It is important for unmarried couples to create a budget that works for both of them. This budget should include all of their expenses, including bills, groceries, entertainment, and savings. They should also set up a system for tracking their spending so they can stay on top of their finances.

But still keep bank accounts and credit cards totally separate.

Final thoughts

Money issues can absolutely ruin a relationship. They are in the top three reasons that people get divorced. And money issues don’t always end if you get divorced. Sometimes a wife can try and claim their husband’s retirement dollars years after the divorce!

It’s important to get on the same financial page as your partner. Be open and transparent about income, debts, spending, and future goals before you tie the knot.

You’ll find that talking about finances early on can lead to a healthy relationship in the long run.

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