February 05, 2013 | By: Laurie Campbell

Money and troubled relationships. Them's fightin' words.

Time and again, surveys tell us that money problems are the chief cause of arguments and even outright rancor between married or co-habiting couples. But this claim needs to be put into perspective. If you investigate the survey field thoroughly, you’ll find that money often is only symptomatic of the real problem issues surrounding troubled relationships and credit counselling will only do so much to fix the situation in it's entirety. 

One recent study hit the mark through a survey of leading causes of divorce, which put “communications problems” at the top of the list, followed by sexual infidelity and "not spending enough time together/not mutually prioritizing the marriage."

If two people really love one another, they don’t waste time squabbling about a money issue, they work together to explore ways to deal with the matter, and if necessary they pool resources to overcome any financial set backs. This healthy approach is the direct result of open, honest, ongoing communication - plus fair distribution of the wealth and can be helped with credit counselling.

We’ve found this to be true through the credit counselling we’ve been providing for decades at Credit Canada Debt Solutions. It means that when you find yourself locking horns with your mate over finances, stop for a moment and look deeper into the situation. Beneath the tears and hollering, unconsidered factors may be at work.

In the process of managing finances, couples should remain aware of pitfalls. One good example is the seemingly reasonable notion that partners can split bill payments in half or distribute them in some other apparently equitable manner. The idea here is that with half (or some) of the bills taken care of, each partner can then freely spend whatever is left over. But then problems surface, particularly if incomes are disproportionate.

In instances where children come into the picture, problems only intensify. Resentment can fester, and bitter arguments can result, over how each partner’s money is being managed and spent in the household. With spending power divided, so too are a couple’s or a family’s hopes and dreams. Thus, couples and families who budget together – and who share the wealth as one unit – are more likely to experience financial peace of mind.

Teamwork in managing personal finances necessarily raises the question of personality types in relationships. Loving couples are attentive to the characteristics of a mate’s personality; strengths are celebrated, and weaknesses are forgiven. Most importantly, such couples actively and practically support one another, each partner often making up for shortcomings that seem to be built into a mate’s DNA. Great credit counselling with help.

Neurotic behaviour between couples raises the red flag that money is far from the real issue in bitter partnerships. Plenty of life circumstances tell the story here. For example, power plays and coercion involving money. Financial bullying often can arise in situations where one mate works and the other doesn’t, where one earns more than the other, or where one extended family is wealthier than the other. In such circumstances, psychological issues of dominance need to be addressed; all the arguing in the world about money will solve nothing.

So, too, does this psychological rule hold for relationships where deceit is at work, or where neurotic behaviour may be at play as for instance in the case of one partner being a shopaholic, trying to fill a spiritual hole through compulsive spending.

But as I say, money usually is not a divisive issue among couples who practice open communication, honesty, and fair play. Each partner’s psychological disposition - coupled with self-awareness - are the important deciding factors in how money bears on a relationship.


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