Not talking enough about finances
Money talks are probably one of the most difficult talks to have, but it is a necessity. It helps to schedule time to talk about money matters, but if you and your partner do not appreciate the formal approach, you can decide to talk about it casually, at dinner or after a major purchase, or whenever something triggers the money talk. The important thing is that you communicate often about your finances. Find what works for you both and run with it.
Ignoring the signs
Scholars have found that individuals gravitate toward spouses who look, sound, and act as they do – except when it comes to money, according to surveys conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, and Northwestern University. Penny pinchers and reckless spenders tend to marry the other, but these couples report unhappier marriages than those in which both spouses had similar spending habits, the studies revealed.
Disparity in spending can be manageable, but if issues aren’t addressed, research says this could increase your likelihood of divorce. The Utah State University study found individuals who feel their spouse spends money foolishly reported lower levels of marital happiness and gauged their likelihood of divorce at 45 percent.
Not setting a financial plan
Whether you have joint or separate accounts – or both – doesn’t really matter. What does is whether your financial plan is the right one for your marriage.
This comes down to you and your spouse’s spending habits and money values. If you’re unnecessarily stressing about small, day-to-day purchases, for example, it might be better to put part of your finances in separate accounts – so you’re less likely to question your spouse’s every buy. If you work better as a team knowing where all your money is and where it’s going at all times, then merged accounts could be better.
Undermining money’s emotional weight
Compared with disagreements over any other topic, research shows financial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples, and generate more negative conflict tactics, such as yelling.
Money conflicts in marriage particularly affect men. Research suggests that since they are socialized to be providers, men tend to take financial conflict harder than women.
Not enjoying your money together
Money doesn’t always have to be a source of stress or conflict. It can also be a source of pleasure. Some of my happiest memories with my husband wouldn’t have been possible without us spending money – on things like exploring Italy, or taking our daughter on her first trip to Florida.
In fact, research indicates that spending money on new experiences, like concert tickets or a wine tasting, produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on material possessions. Experiences bring us happiness not only when we’re experiencing them, but also whenever we reflect back on them as memories. Fond memories, after all, usually turn out to be one of the most valuable assets in a marriage.