Happy Life: Happy Marriage Series
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.
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