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The Secrets of Successful Money Management in Marriage
"By working together and making wise decisions, a couple can manage their money effectively and strengthen their marriage in the process"
Marriage is good for people's financial well being. Because two people are more efficient when they are cooperating in marriage and because married people tend to make longer term financial decisions, marriage is generally better than singleness in terms of the bottom line.
At the same time, however, finances can be an area of tension in a marriage. In fact, a large percentage of people who get divorced list conflict over money as a chief cause of their breakup. So it is crucial that couples learn to handle money effectively.
Married couples face four dangers when it comes to money:
1) disrespect for the other spouse's financial input
2) domination of the couple's financial decisions
3) chronic disagreement about financial decisions, priorities, and values
Disrespect: in every marriage, each spouse tends to view money differently. This is a good thing, because one partner can provide a clear view where the other has a blind spot. When they work together, they can make decisions that would be better than either could make on his or her own. Disrespecting each other's input on financial matters is counterproductive. If you have a problem in this area, there are a couple of things you can do. First, admit your weaknesses in the ways you view money. Second, recognize you need input from your spouse.
Dominance: there is no reason for one partner in a marriage to dominate the couple's money. Yet it happens often. One cause of the domination of the family finances is the my money mentality. In other words, a spouse may think, I earned this money or received it as an inheritance, and therefore I can decide how to use it. This thinking is wrong; regardless of where the money came from, it belongs to both equally.
Another cause is one spouse's belief that the other spouse is irresponsible about money. This may be true, and in extreme cases it may be necessary for one person to take control-but even then it should be a temporary solution. The couple needs to work through their dis-trust and learn to cooperate in finances.
Disagreement: people approach financial decisions with different priorities and values in mind. That is why it is no surprise that couples sometimes don't agree when it comes to spending money. The solution is to budget.
First, with budgeting, you make financial decisions in advance and thus take the emotion out of them. Second, budgeting forces you to discuss and agree upon values, priorities, and personal preferences. Third, it provides a basis of accountability. Fourth, conflict is more manageable when you are making decisions proactively rather than reactively.
Debt: owing money puts tremendous pressure on a marriage. That is why it is important to be wise in assuming and paying off debts.
Several principles can help a couple managed their debt wisely. First, borrow for essential or appreciable items only. Second, save money and live within your means. Third, downsize your lifestyle, if necessary, to pay off debts. Fourth, get financial or debt counseling.