Here, you’ll learn the best way to start fixing your finances. In fact, you’ve already begun dealing with money problems in your marriage. Just being here is the best way to start.
“Chances are, if you’re married, one of you is good at working numbers (the nerd) and the other one isn’t good at working numbers (the free spirit),” writes Dave Ramsey in The Truth About Money and Relationships. “That isn’t the real problem. The problem is when the nerd neglects the input of the free spirit or when the free spirit avoids participating in the financial dealings altogether.”
Here’s the easy part: learning that you can fix your money problems if you and your spouse start talking about them! You need to discuss how money is affecting your marriage, what your “money relationship styles” are, and how to work together to start dealing with the finances. These tips will get you started…
The following money tips for married couples are based on current research about husbands, wives, communication, support, and financial debt. They’re tips are based on psychology research from the University of Iowa.
One of the most surprising findings from this research is that an overly supportive husband or wife can have a detrimental effect on a marriage or common law relationship.
Too much support – or the wrong kind of support – can wreak havoc on a marriage, especially when the couple is coping with money problems. Doesn’t that seem counterintuitive?
6 Ways to Deal With Money Problems in Marriage
“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 you need when you have money problems is a greater risk factor for marriage 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 marriage. These researchers did not study financial problems from previous marriages, but their tips can be applied to different types of money problems in a current marriage.
If you’re in a dating relationship and your boyfriend asks you to lend him money, say no! Read What to Say When Your Boyfriend Asks to Borrow Money for help.
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).
Is your husband angry or demeaning when you and he talk about how the finances are affecting your marriage? Read How to Cope With a Critical Husband.
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. Or, maybe he doesn’t want to hear suggestions for coping with money problems from his previous marriage – maybe he just wants to focus on solving his financial problems on his own. In contrast, you might feel supported when your spouse does extra chores around the house.
To help your husband deal with money problems from his first marriage, ask him how he would feel most supported. 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 husband by expressing confidence that you will overcome your money problems together.
4. Don’t assume that your spouse needs a particular type of support
“The assumption is that men just want to be left alone and women want to be held and listened to,” Lawrence said. “In reality, different men want different kinds of support, and different women want different kinds of support.” Also, remember that spouses may appreciate different types of support at different times of the day, week, or month.
Discussing articles like Emotional Disconnection in Marriage – How to Feel Less Alone is a good example of support that may not help your spouse cope with serious money problems! It depends on how his personality and situation.
5. Ask for the type of support you need
Talking about your marriage and financial problems is key to a happy, healthy relationship. If you need support, ask for it – and be specific about the type of support you’d like. Don’t assume your spouse knows how to help you through these financial difficulties. Afterward, talk about what worked and what didn’t, and adjust accordingly.
6. Remember that it’s the effort that counts
Don’t give up if you’re not immediately successful at helping your husband cope with money problems from his previous marriage.
“Both parties are more satisfied if the husband gets the right kind of support, and if the wife feels like she’s supported,” Lawrence said. “Husbands shouldn’t throw their hands up if they’re not sure what to do. They need to stay in there and keep trying, because we found that women appreciate the effort.”
Read The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness for to learn how to move PAST the starting phase to learning how to actually deal with money problems in your marriage. He’s a financial expert who will help you find the solutions to your marriage and money struggles.
In this book, Dave Ramsey will teach you and your husband how to take your unnecessary expenses and turn them into a solid financial budget. You’ll add extra money to your savings or checking bank account, and whip your finances into shape!
“By now, you’ve heard all the nutty get-rich-quick schemes, the fiscal diet fads that leave you with a lot of kooky ideas but not a penny in your pocket,” says Dave. “Hey, if you’re tired of the lies and sick of the false promises, take a look at this — it’s the simplest, most straightforward game plan for completely making over your money habits. And it’s based on results, not pie-in-the-sky fantasies.”
With The Total Money Makeover, you’ll learn how to:
- Design a sure-fire plan for paying off all your financial debt — all cars, houses, everything
- Recognize the 10 most dangerous money myths (these will kill you, and they cause serious money problems in marriage)
- Secure a big, fat nest egg for emergencies and retirement!
- Includes new, expanded “Dave Rants” sidebars that tackle marriage conflict, college debt, and more.
If you have any thoughts on supporting your husband emotionally while dealing with money problems in marriage, please comment below. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but you may find it helpful to share your story.
Source: This research study, called “Couples Can Overdo Being Supportive”, was published in the journal Personal Relationships. Lawrence was the lead author, with co-authors from the University of Iowa, CIGNA Health Solutions, Santa Clara University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.
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