Credit card debt, steep mortgage loans, and large medical bills are financial difficulties that cause stress for married and common-law couples. These tips for helping your spouse through money problems can help strengthen your marriage – even in the worst of times.
Surprisingly, an overly supportive husband or wife can have a detrimental effect on a marriage or common-law relationship! A series of University of Iowa studies shows that too much support – or the wrong kind of support – can wreak havoc on a marriage.
These marriage tips are based on current research about husbands, wives, communication, and support. For more money tips for couples, click Love Marriage & Money: Understanding and Achieving Financial Compatibility Before–and After–You Say “I Do.” And, read on for six ways to cope with money problems in marriage.
Helping Your Spouse Through Financial Difficulties
“The idea that simply being more supportive is better for your marriage is a myth,” says Erika Lawrence, associate professor of psychology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Often husbands and wives think, ‘If my partner really knows me and loves me, he or she will know I’m upset and will know how to help me.’ However, that’s not the best way to approach your marriage. Your partner shouldn’t have to be a mind reader. Couples will be happier if they learn how to say, ‘This is how I’m feeling, and this is how you can help me.'”
Lawrence and colleagues discovered that receiving more support than desired is a greater risk factor for marital decline than not being there for a spouse. “If you don’t get enough support, you can make up for that with family and friends — especially women, who tend to have multiple sources of support,” she said. “When you receive too much support, there’s no way to adjust for that.”
These tips will help you give and receive the right amount of support in your relationship…
6 Tips for Supporting Your Husband or Wife
1. Learn about the different types of support in marriage. In Lawrence’s study, four kinds of support were identified: physical comfort and emotional support (listening and empathizing, taking your spouse’s hand, giving your spouse a hug), esteem support (expressing confidence in your partner, providing encouragement), informational support (giving advice, gathering information), and tangible support (taking on responsibilities so your spouse can deal with a problem, helping to brainstorm solutions to a problem).
2. Figure out the type of support your spouse needs. Just like there are different ways of giving and receiving love in relationships, there are different ways of giving and receiving support in marriage. For instance, your husband may feel most supported when you find and share information about saving money on medical care costs. In contrast, you might feel supported when your spouse does extra chores around the house. To cope with money problems in marriage, ask your spouse how he or she gives and receives support. Don’t guess!
3. Avoid giving too much “informational support.” The results of the University of Iowa study showed that too much informational support – usually in the form of unwanted advice-giving – is the most detrimental. Lawrence says husbands and wives can’t go wrong with esteem support. So, encourage your spouse by expressing confidence that you will overcome your money problems together.
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