Tag Archives: finances

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

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Financial Guru Saves Sex Life

 

Tony & Alisa DiLorenzo

When I learned that Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo used their experience of getting out of $50,000 in debt as a means to transform their marriage and improve their intimacy, I asked Tony to provide a guest post for you detailing how they achieved this success. Here’s their story, in Tony’s words …

You might be wondering how a financial guru can save your sex life.  Let’s put it this way, the financial intimacy you have in your marriage can either drive a wedge between you and your spouse or it can bring you closer together.  I never really thought about how much it impacted my marriage until my wife, Alisa, and I attended a recent weekend marriage retreat.

While at the retreat it hit us … Our freedom from debt and the ability to talk about our financial goals has allowed us to be closer when it comes to our sexual intimacy. During the retreat, we talked a lot about intimacy. But it was when our financial pastor, Bill Besalski, got up to talk about financial intimacy when we looked at each other and realized the impact this financial guru had had on our sex life. We weren’t always this close.

Backup:  Ten years ago we were up to our eyeballs in debt—student loans, mortgage, cars, credit cards—you name it we had it, to the tune of $50,000. I started listening to the Dave Ramsey Show and realized how out of control we were and how much sense he made.  I asked Alisa to listen as well, and that’s when we got serious about getting out of debt and living debt-free.

At this year’s retreat, when Bill handed out a couple of financial worksheets for each couple to go over together, we realized just how far we had come.  As Alisa and I talked about our finances openly, there were many couples who wouldn’t even make eye contact. The financial walls we so big and tall they couldn’t even attempt to talk. It is my belief that when we are unable to discuss our finances, our sexual intimacy will suffer as well.

Here are the questions that were on that sheet (and our answers).

Answer True or False to the following:

  1. We pay off our credit card balances every month.  Not Applicable (We haven’t had one in almost 10 years)
  2. We have a liquid “Emergency Fund” equal to at least 3 months of household expenses.  TRUE
  3. We have a budget in place that establishes long term priorities (savings, retirement, kids education, etc.) and assures we do not incur inappropriate debts (i.e. credit cards).  TRUE
  4. We have an automatic system (i.e. payroll deduction) in place to fund our retirement.  TRUE
  5. We have checked our credit scores within the past year and monitor them regularly.  TRUE
  6. We understand that it is “All His” & as a result give generously and joyfully at least 10% of our income to God’s church.  Tony=8 & Alisa=9
  7. We frequently discuss our financial goals as well as our progress.  Both=10
  8. When it comes to our finances we have discussed and agree on our respective roles in managing our money, but share equally in the responsibility and accountability.  Both=10
  9. As a family we read the Bible and pray together regarding the significant challenges and/or concerns in our life. Both=10
  10. There are few unresolved conflicts in our marriage when it comes to how each of us manages and/or spends money.  Both=9

To what degree do the following describe your approach to finances in your marriage?
(0=Not at All to 10=Living It!)

It was during this session that we realized the fruits of our labor & God’s blessings.  If we hadn’t made financial intimacy a priority 10 years ago, who knows what our intimacy would look like today. When we came together and attacked the problem (debt, credit cards, car loans, etc.), this process brought the two of us closer together. We were no longer on separate sides of the fence arguing at each other. Instead, we were holding hands and using all of our energies to rid ourselves of the debt. The couple of years it took for us to eliminate our debt has changed our intimacy.

It has taken a decade to fully sink in, but we now understand how important it is to be on the same page when talking about our finances. We have regular financial discussions now. Doing so takes the stress of money out of our bedroom, where sexual intimacy is both beneficial and enjoyed by both of us.

We’re not the only ones who realize that financial intimacy is so important.  Here’s what Jeff & NeCole had to say about their financial intimacy during the 7 Days of Sex Challenge, Day two turned out to be a blessing. After spending the day taking a hard look at our finances and sitting down to restructure them, we both were more than stressed and welcomed the chance to forget about it and focus on each other. Afterwards, we both felt much less stressed and our thought processes were clearer. And instead of tossing and turning all night because of the stress, we both slept like babies.”

It’s time to save your sex life! Make it a point to go over the above questions with your spouse and dig into your financial intimacy.

What has been your experience with financial intimacy in your marriage?

Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo podcasters, speakers, authors of Stripped Down: 13 Keys to Unlocking Intimacy in Your Marriage, and the founders of ONE.  For many years Tony and Alisa have helped couples achieve romance, passion, and intimacy in their marriage. They’ve been called Champions of Extraordinary Marriages and they truly have a passion for igniting marriages. Learn more about Tony and Alisa at ONE Extraordinary Marriage.  

Beware of Financial Infidelity

This morning on the Today Show, financial experts reviewed research on how money is the number-one cause of marital fights, and said the more couples fight about money, the more likely they are to become divorced.

We talked about this research here in February. The gist of it is that the more debt you have, the higher your marital stress level, while increased assets seem to bring security. Couples who used a budget had fewer arguments and higher marital satisfaction.

An interesting concept the Today contributors brought up that I had been thinking about is financial infidelity. That means one or both people are sneaking around about how they spend or save money. Secrets lead to fights, and fights lead to big marriage problems. It’s critical for couples to put all their financial debts, challenges and struggles out in the open so they can be negotiated and managed. Plans for improving finances will be more effective when honesty is displayed.

In the financial stability area, I feel extremely blessed. I can’t recall a single fight about money in our almost-15-year marriage. However, we have unusually similar financial priorities, goals and tendencies. For instance, we both tend to be savers, not spenders. And we like to spend money on the same sorts of things. My hubby tends to be a bit of a spendthrift about some things, which we may occasionally tease him about. But the bottom line is that I know his cautiousness about spending is a way to protect the family for the future.

So, we drive our cars longer than most people I know, and we delay on some unnecessary expenses, but we sleep better at night. We are probably also unusual in that we keep separate checking accounts (although both our names are listed on the accounts, and we both have full access if we needed it). This wouldn’t work for some couples, but it works well for us. Our savings accounts are combined.

Our philosophy has always been to spend less than we earn, substantially less when possible. That may seem obvious to most of you. (I sure hope so.) However, many couples are still thinking they can spend more this year and make it up next year. This generally leads to taking out loans or credit card debt, leading to increased fees and higher debt, more stress, and more arguments.

The experts suggest:

  1. Weekly meetings about your finances where you each provide updates, concerns and progress on your financial plans. You’ll need to discuss and negotiate your financial goals and plans. If you can’t have these meetings without fighting, you may need professional help (financial counselor, accountant, etc.)
  2. If you have credit card debt, focus on paying off the card with the highest interest rate first. Put all your extra money toward paying that one off, while you pay only the minimums on other cards. Then move to the card with the next highest interest rate.
  3. Use automatic payment plans to set up the payments you agree upon.
  4. If you argue about money more than 1-2 times a month, and you feel those arguments are harming your marriage, consider seeing a marriage counselor. Your upbringing and tendencies from your family of origin affect the way you view and use money. Money is viewed as power in a marriage. If you allow these issues to fester, and particularly if financial infidelity creeps in, your marriage is at risk. Divorce is more expensive than a marriage counselor, so get help before it becomes too difficult to repair.
  5. Consider selling assets or downsizing if your lifestyle has become too stressful to maintain. Even if you can afford a higher lifestyle, no one says you must upgrade. One couple I know chooses to use their excess for charitable giving. This decision has given them much greater peace and satisfaction in their marriage than they receive from spending.
  6. When possible, each spouse should have some flexibility in spending so they don’t begin to view their spouse as a “parent” who must approve every expenditure.

Also, read Money Help: Becoming a Financial Free Couple.

Has money been the cause of arguments in your relationship? Have you learned how to better manage these issues without fights?

What Would You Do With $1 Million?

“Forget trying to keep up with the Joneses. The Joneses are broke!” I heard this quote recently on the news and wanted to say, “Amen, sister.” We are learning that the vast majority of Americans have been living beyond their means for some time.

 

It reminded me of an interview I had with a couple (happily married since 1967) who were imparting their best marriage advice. One of the earliest decisions they made in their marriage was to live debt-free and not to advance their lifestyle. That means when they have extra money, instead of buying a bigger house or a flat-screen TV, they give it away. Shocking in today’s culture, isn’t it?

 

With their high levels of academic achievement (a physician and master’s in Education) they could have sought out high-paying jobs, new furniture, nicer cars and a shinier lifestyle. Instead they chose jobs and volunteer roles for their real contributions. They have given significant sums to charities. They have also used their time and money on mission trips.

 

They still live a comfortable lifestyle and reared and educated two children. But they never let money take control of their life or their decisions. And they never argue about money. How many marriages today would benefit if financial stress was removed?

 

If you were handed a million dollars today, would it change your life? Would you buy a new house, put in the market, take a trip to Europe, plan for retirement, help your parents, give a little away or put it under your mattress (because you can’t trust today’s banks)?