“How do I stop fighting about money with my husband?”– this is a question that so many of you are reaching out to ask. One of the most combustible topics in any marriage is hands-down household finances. What can you do when it seems impossible to get off the subject? If you have nightly fights about money in your marriage, it can feel like you’re stuck in an endless loop. I’ve been there, too. Read on for some tips on making headway in your discussions rather than re-hash the same argument day in and day out.
First off, you aren’t alone. This is one question I’m asked more frequently than almost any other. Maybe you and your spouse were raised with lifestyles that were drastically different, or maybe you’re drowning in debt and can’t see a way forward. Whatever the reason for your tension, you can find a productive way of talking finances without escalating to an argument every time.
This scenario may be familiar: you both come home from work, there’s brief downtime– maybe a glass of wine, a podcast, some cooking– and then it starts. The same argument you’ve had every night for the last several months: he’s spending too much on nights out with the guys. Your gel nail habit is dinging the joint bank account, and he disapproves. Maybe you are both living beyond your means and aren’t comfortable discussing it or can’t reconcile how to rein it in.
I get this question more than you might think– all the time, in fact. You are not the only couple to be exploding on the regular over this topic.
In this article, I’ll explore some ways to wrap your arms around the idea of having a meaningful discussion and stop fighting about money with your husband. There’s little else that can get a marital argument going in the ways that money can, but I have been in your position and I can help.
Normal, maybe. Healthy– probably not. For comparison, another common marital argument topic is sex, but that may come up only a few times each week or each month, depending on your relationship. Money, on the other hand, is something we are handling and exchanging every day. It’s crucial to be on the same page as your spouse and actively working in the same direction.
For some quick tips on how to get out of this rut, try my 5 Ways to Get Your Spouse on Board with Money. These are some starter ideas to try and work toward a common goal or talk about your finances with a more positive framework.
Have you spent your quarantine dreaming of a tropical vacation? Planning a trip together and saving toward that goal as a team can help you to pull the rest of your finances back on course. Once there is a concrete “why” that you can agree on working toward, the rest more easily falls into place.
Marriage experts at the Gottman Institute insist that “arguments about money aren’t about money.” They’re about the power dynamic in your relationship. Like it or not, someone probably holds the marital keys to the bank account, while the other partner is more passive about your finances. This creates a power differential that lends itself to fights.
Once established, your roles with money may be hard to shift. One of you may be the perpetual “spender” while the other is inclined to save. Maybe one partner wants to bring money up while the other would prefer to avoid it. Whatever the case, it may be worth setting up an appointment with a professional counselor to get on the same page. Reaching the point where you can talk finances without getting defensive is a must.
When my ex and I were at our lowest, our $40,000 of credit card debt was the elephant in the room. If you can shine a light on your darkest financial secrets together, this is the scariest– and most productive-place to start.
Set up a weekly or monthly meeting to talk about money in very direct, honest terms about money with your spouse, and don’t invite your shame to that meeting. Transparency and communication will be vital to saving your marriage; I’ll talk about that more in a minute.
Just know first that the road to resolution– and to stopping the same argument over and over– begins with honesty. Much as you may want to hide the problems keeping you up at night, the only way out of this is through.
Sitting down to talk about money regularly can save your marriage. I can say this with confidence because Mark and I made it back from that $40,000 hole of debt– but only once we were honest with ourselves and with each other about the position we were in.
If you are both at a loss of where to start, you may try some starting points like my online Flip Your Debt course. It’s made up of videos and worksheets you can tackle as a team. Heck, toss in dessert and make it a date! As long as you are willing to level with each other once a month at least, you’re headed in the right direction.
Maybe it’s time you spend your evenings painting the town and catching up in your car. Try teaming up for two nights a week running Doordash as a team. The job will give you a shared focus and goal, and you can feel like a debt-busting team when you work the hustle together.
A side bonus is that you can save toward that dream vacation or make micropayments toward shrinking your debt as you go. If you Doordash together and knock out $50 a night worth of jobs, doing this twice-weekly will help you knock out an extra $200 a month toward your debt snowball. If you make payments against your debt as soon as your side hustle pays you, you won’t even miss the money from your bank account.
So Bluetooth an audiobook of your choice into the car, or catch up on each other’s days in the front seat. Set up the kids in the back to crash in their car seat or play games on a tablet while you drive.
This is just one side hustle that lends itself to being done as a team and helps you tackle your debt as a pair while spending time together toward a positive goal. If the passenger’s seat occupant spends the drive researching hotels and waterfall hikes, you may even forget that you’re working.