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Money battles can damage marriages

Surveys and studies consistently put money at the top of lists of issues couples fight about. This may not surprise you if you and your spouse have had your share of disagreements about the family finances. What may surprise you is that arguments over money do not necessarily arise from a lack of money. In fact, money often represents much deeper issues between spouses.

If you and your spouse fight often about your finances, you may have concerns about whether you will ever be able to resolve your differences. It is no secret that financial disputes often lead to irreconcilable differences, and this often means divorce.

Are you dealing with these conflicts?

Even if you and your spouse earn a significant amount of money, you may not have marital harmony if your opinions about saving, spending and borrowing are not compatible. For instance, it is common for one spouse to be frugal and careful after depositing a paycheck while the other sees money in the bank as an excuse to spend lavishly.

The same is true for long-term financial plans. If one of you wants to save for a dream trip to an exotic location and the other is content with spending the money on an annual trip to the beach, you may find yourselves at odds. At the heart of it, you do not share the goals that are important to you, and this can mean tension and resentment in the marriage. Other ways these tensions can arise include the following:

  • One trying to pay off credit cards while the other continues using them
  • One spouse keeping purchases, income or debt secret from the other
  • One or both of you regularly spending more than you make or impulsively making extravagant purchases
  • Disagreeing about how to tackle major expenses, such as parental care, child care or home renovations
  • Having no emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses like medical bills or vehicle repairs
  • Coming into the marriage in debt from overspending on a wedding
  • Refusing to compromise when it comes to money decisions

A common issue occurs when one spouse earns considerably more than the other. If you and your spouse decided that one of you would remain home while the other worked, the working spouse may feel he or she has control of the finances. That disparity in decision-making power can quickly erode a relationship.

What to do now

You may be able to avoid these issues with pre-marital financial counseling, or if you are already married, you can address them with a marriage counselor. However, if, like many Oregon couples, your financial arguments have you heading toward divorce, your money conflicts will likely play an important part in the division of your marital assets. You would be wise to have a skilled attorney advocate for your fair share during property division.

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