7 Signs That Money Is Ruining Your Marriage

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It's no surprise that when it comes to marriage, money consistently ranks as one of the top stressors that's ruined a fair share of relationships. Here are seven signs:

​7 Signs That Money Is Ruining Your Marriage
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7 Signs That Money Is Ruining Your Marriage
Communication is key when it comes to any successful relationship, so if you're not talking to your spouse, chances are there are some things that need to be addressed. Finances are a tough topic to tackle -- especially due to the many emotions that rush to the surface when addressed. If money is a sensitive topic in your relationship, start small by getting some recurring money dates on the calendar and use an agenda for questions to ask of each other.
If you're hiding bills, expenses and credit card statements from your partner, that's a telltale sign that there's a deeper issue at play. There may be a sense of guilt around a recent purchase, or fear of a bad reaction, or you simply may be enabling your partner to continue to with a bad habit. Whatever it is, the best thing you can do is come together and clean the slate. As a partnership, you're on your financial journey as a team. This isn't a solo trip, and it means that balance must be struck between each of your wants, needs and goals.
Goal setting may sound like a fluffy thing to do, but a couple who creates and shapes goals together can ensure they are using their money towards creating a life they love and value. If you haven't done this with your partner yet, take some time separately to sit down and write down your individual goals. It could be debt pay down, building up the emergency fund, private school for the kids, making out your 401(k), launching your own business, taking that trip to Hawaii or more. Write down whatever comes to mind. Then come together for a conversation about merging and prioritizing. One you have your prioritized list, work as a team to begin tackling them one at a time.
This is a surefire sign that you're not budgeting and managing expenses as a couple. Nothing can dampen the flames in a relationship like the stress of playing catch-up at the end of each month. Or wondering if you're going to be able to make it through the month. Once you establish joint goals and set up money dates, you'll be able to start working as a team to hold each other accountable and track progress along the way. Whether you need to use the cash envelope system, cut up credit cards or work solely off of lists, do what needs to be done in your relationship to get the finances on track.
When only one person takes control of the finances, this can enhance money stress in a relationship. One partner is left with the responsibility to balance and manage everything, while the other either chooses to sit out or ends up feeling like he or she is being "told what to do" or "left out of the loop." As much as you may want to hand over the financial reigns to just one partner in your relationship, the best course is to develop a plan where you both stay invested in the financial progress. Even if it's from an accountability check-in standpoint. You should each know what's going on with the money.
Each of us grew up in an environment that effects the way we look at, understand and feel about money. Whether your family struggled financially, your dad always handled the finances, you never wanted for anything, or you understood that credit cards are a way to bail you out of problems -– these are the issues that should be communicated with your spouse. The experiences you have in your money histories can and will seep into your money present if you don't address some of the habits or beliefs you picked up over time.
We all need some treats, but if you're taking chunks of savings for large purchases for yourself when your family has consumer debt they should be tackling, an emergency fund that needs a cushion and a retirement account that hasn't been looked at this year, then you likely need to reprioritize in order to get your family finances on track. If you're not considering what's best for your family and whether you're actually in a position to make these purchases, go back to No. 1 and start with the communication step to ensure your relationship gets on the same page with money.

Mary Beth Storjohann
is a certified financial planner for Gen Y. She created Nine Steps to Workable Wealth to help you make smart choices with your money.
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