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Perspectives about finance in a marriage?

By Sailaja Menon, Counseling Psychologist


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Sailaja Menon
Counseling Psychologist


March 12, 2019

How do couples deal with varied world views and perspectives about finance in a marriage?

It’s normal for married couples to have different views on money management, but if one of them works so hard to earn the family’s income and the other spends like there’s no tomorrow, there can be a big problem there. What is your advice to people who are married to big spenders? Let’s say a husband has just found out that his jobless wife has taken out a huge loan or incurred high credit card balances, or has been hiding bills and shopping around like crazy. How can this situation be best handled? What can the husband do to achieve a compromise? Is it a good idea to confront the wife right away?

A marriage is built on the foundations of respect and regard for each other and the relationship’s well-being. Therefore, the objective is to communicate this in a manner such that both parties embrace a sense of commitment, understanding, and discipline in achieving this fundamental objective

•    Have an open dialogue on how one person’s overspending affects the overall goals for the future.

•    Discuss and come to an agreement to set limits and boundaries on what your family’s realistic spending for the month should be.

•    Be open and transparent about liabilities, debts, loans with each other such that both of you feel equally accountable and responsible for clearing them with controlled spending.

•    Set a clear budget for the month on the “necessities” and the “desirables” - set priorities.

Is it wise for couples to keep joint or separate accounts? If both couples are earning, for instance, is it good to keep a joint account for their paychecks and monthly bills? Should they agree on a monthly allowance?

It truly depends on the couple and how mindful and responsible they are on spending and expenditures. This decision should primarily be driven by:

•    A sense of Responsibility to keep each other “in the loop” as far as their respective earnings, savings, and balances are concerned.

•    A sense of commitment to keep each other informed when the accounts are accessed for withdrawals.

•    Respect and regard for each other’s earnings.

•    A shared sense of commitment to controlled spending.

•    A shared sense of commitment to save for the future.

•    A transparent and open dialogue between the couple on their earnings and their goals for the future.

Based on your experience dealing with couples, who are often the big spender in the marriage, is it the wife or husband? Why? Does family upbringing or culture have something to do with this?

Spending is not necessarily gender-based. However, upbringing and outlook towards money and spending in the past can influence their current style of spending. To get to the bottom of this trail and establish a controlled sense of spending, it is important to understand how an individual views money-

•    An object of pleasure?

•    An object of power?

•    An object that is a status symbol?

•    An object of authority?

•    An object that makes you “feel and look good”?

•    An object that is a source of comfort during times of distress and sadness?

•    An object that is respected and treasured?

•    An object that is a necessity for survival?

•    An object that helps to secure your future?

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