Tag Archives: debt and marriage

Are Society’s Standards Hurting Your Marriage?

cruise ship morguefileI recently read about a family’s decision to leave an expensive city lifestyle and move to a rural, laid back community to reduce stress and have more time together. It was a reminder that our lives are full of choices, and that our lifestyle is not a permanent decision. Societal standards for most Americans are putting an immense strain on families and marriages; many couples are too exhausted for physical and emotional intimacy.

The pressure to live in a large home filled with expensive furniture, to wear fashionable clothes, to send children to the best schools with private lessons, and to take nice vacations and drive new cars contributes to a perceived need to work longer hours and attain promotions. Many couples believe they can’t live on one salary, even when one of the salaries is quite high. High-end desires are promoted by the culture (through advertising, movies, Facebook, etc.) and lead to either debt or the need to earn more. The result: increased stress, and less time.

Families with children have to face additional societal pressures to join artistic, educational, and athletic teams and activities. A generation ago, a baseball team would practice perhaps one day a week in addition to a weekend game. Today’s sports teams often require daily practices and most of the weekend. Many kids I know practice before and after school every day, plus weekends. Ballet, piano, swim, French, band, soccer—the options are endless and costly, and the pressure to join starts very early. Family time suffers, and budgets are strained. Parents often divide on weekends to cover all the activities, making weekends as much work as the weekday.

Where does the marriage fit in when you haven’t had time to connect during the week or the weekend? Resentment can build when one or both spouses feel they are doing more (of the childcare, of the chores, or earning the money).

If only one spouse is working, he or she may feel compelled to focus on work to fulfill the family’s needs and wants. A lack of connection can develop if not enough time is spent with one’s spouse and family, hurting the relationship and getting in the way of a good sex life.

Millennials are starting to pave the way with prioritizing work/life balance above climbing the corporate ladder. Building balance into our lives allows us to nurture our relationships.

There’s nothing wrong with living in a nice home, driving a nice car, and taking your kids to soccer practice. However, if societal pressures are preventing a quality family life, consider what changes could be made. Are you willing to live in a smaller house to have more time together? Could you drop out of some activities and have more free time together?

When my family found ourselves spread too thin and separating for sporting activities on the weekend, we pulled my son out of the travel soccer team. Instead, we found ourselves enjoying relaxing Saturdays as a family, and able to go to church at our regular time on Sunday. We adjusted our lives so that I could work part-time, allowing me to do much of the shopping, laundry and chores during the week.

I don’t think we have won the battle against all of society’s expectations. One struggle we often have is the high volume of homework and studying our kids complete each night, sometimes requiring our support. The pressure to help our kids succeed is high and time consuming. This stress can also bleed into the marriage relationship and keep us from having time to relax as a couple.

We are blessed to have our children at home, and we also look forward to different phases of our lives. To be successful and have a happy marriage once our children are gone, we need to make time and space for one another now. We make frequent changes to try to achieve better balance, and at least question the activities in which we are involved. Balance is a moving target.

If you think your marriage is getting put on the back burner, sit down individually and as a couple to determine what changes are possible to give you more of the life you want.

Lori Lowe has been married to her husband, Ming, for 19 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.

5 Tell-Tale Signs Debt Is Ruining Your Marriage

Happy Life: Happy Marriage Series

Guest post by Krisca C. Te

It’s difficult to be happy in life or in marriage when you’re living in debt. Money shouldn’t be a deciding issue in any relationship, much more for two people who are bound by love and marriage. Still, debt is one of the more common reasons married couples get divorced. It may not be solely the financial situation that made them decide to give up, but they may have failed to see the tell-tale signs that debt was ruining their relationship.

 If money or debt has been a reason for one of your past arguments with your spouse, watch out for the following signs:

 1.   You tend to lie to each other or keep secrets when it comes to money.

Trust is the key in any kind of relationship – business or personal. Even a small white lie can instantly erode trust that took years to earn. Lies compromise one’s integrity and worth. It prevents clear communication and often leads to bigger lies and a web of problems. If you cannot trust your spouse, what kind of relationship is it?

 Don’t hide debt from your partner. Hiding things from your spouse will only make you feel anxious and stressed. You may not notice it, but it will put a strain on your relationship. Be transparent with your finances, no matter how ashamed you are of your debt, so you can both start fixing it. Being clear on things lets your spouse know that while you may make some poor choices, you choose to keep your spouse’s trust and respect by always admitting your errors.

 Confront the Issue. If your spouse lied about money, confront the situation. While it is stressful, there isn’t any way around it. The faster you deal with it, the quicker you can get rid of it. Consider why they felt they had to hide the problem from you. Even if the reason doesn’t suffice, at least you can immediately work something out to fix the problem.

Forgive. Yes, as much as you want to say “I told you so”, it will not do anything to fix the problem. Forgive and move on. It does not mean that you will forget the mistake; it only means that you are giving them a chance to redeem themselves.

 2.   You prioritize money before your spouse.

Sadly, this happens to many people. Think about it, when you first got together with your spouse, it’s unlikely that you’ve thought of getting together to bring more money into the relationship. You got married, initially, because you fell in love. Expect only one thing that your spouse can offer you: love.

 Don’t try buy your happiness. Money indeed makes the world go round, and in some cases, can buy a more comfortable lifestyle. But what really is happiness for you? When you have all the money in the world, but you are alone, what’s the point? Living a great life is all about great companionship.

 3.   You use money to manipulate your spouse.

Usually, the one who brings more money home is the one who wields more power. This can cause relationship problems as it brings in our egos and insecurities.

Don’t use money to dominate. Even if you are the breadwinner, do not use it as an excuse to dominate every decision in the household. Like a well-run business, every member has a right for their input; denying your spouse of this right will cause bruised egos.

 4.   You blame each other for any problems you encounter.

It is easy for people to take credit for good things that happen to them, but then point the finger at someone else for any downfall. Before you start blaming, consider looking at your own contributions to the problem.

Avoid accusing your partner. Trust is essential. Do not accuse your partner the moment you feel something is amiss. Learn to investigate first before you start hurling comments – especially hurtful ones. Justice will not be served by blindly putting down someone just because it makes you feel better.

Avoid labeling each other. This stops any effort for a change in problematic attitude because you’ve already given up on them. Instead, encourage each other to bring the best to the table to solve your issues.

 Don’t keep making excuses to justify your bad choices. Running away and pretending that it does not exist will only make things worse, because interest piles up faster than you can imagine. The faster you can pay up, the less interest you have to pay.

 5.   You constantly fight, but refuse to really communicate.

 There’s a difference between arguing and fighting. Arguing is a way of communication, an exchange of thoughts—even though you disagree—to achieve harmony. Fighting is senseless bickering; it only shifts the blame without solving the problem.

 Begin working together. It may be difficult to control your emotions at first, but the more you work at it, the easier it will become. Think rationally and set aside your feelings for the moment. Don’t start the blame game; instead, begin working on a financial plan to clear your debt. Let your spouse know that you appreciate any input he or she can contribute to improving your financial situation. You might be surprised to know that your partner may be more than willing to bring ideas to the table. Make it a habit to regularly communicate your current savings and debt.

Ask for help. Debt isn’t just a money problem, it’s also a marriage problem. Even married couples have different opinions and outlook in life. Debt only intensifies the dissimilarities in a couple. When couples constantly fight because of money, they need to remember their partner’s better qualities and look beyond the issue. Sometimes this is hard to do because of our emotion. A pro-marriage counselor or a financial counselor may help, because a third party can look at your situation with a neutral and fresh eye.

Krisca C. Te is part of the team that manages Austrailian credit cards. Read the personal finance blog based in Sydney, Australia. Before she joined ACC, she was an Associate in Deutsche Bank Group under Market and Instruments Control Services.

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.com