Family works

Speaking on money

Rob Coombs ID. Min. Ph.D.
Posted 3/12/17

I’m not sure if I should be doing this.

Why?

Money is a very secretive issue for most families. We carefully guard how much we make, how much we spend and how much we save. Our secrecy …

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Family works

Speaking on money

Posted

I’m not sure if I should be doing this.

Why?

Money is a very secretive issue for most families. We carefully guard how much we make, how much we spend and how much we save. Our secrecy fuels poor communication concerning money matters which, in turn, provides fertile ground for conflict, so much so that 80 percent of all divorcing couples cite money as a major contributing factor. Of course, it’s really not the money, but the tension surrounding money (usually the lack of money) that brings this conflict.

The reasons couples fight over money are numerous, but I would like to discuss the three primary reasons.

(1) Power: One of the most important reasons couples fight over money has to do with power. Adhering to the modern translation of the Golden Rule (Those with the gold rule.), couples fight over money for what it represents — the ability to take charge or be in control of the relationship. The one who makes the most money often “wears the pants in the family” and therefore is in a position to call the shots. Of course, traditionally, this has been the husband. Many wives have endured significant control and sometimes even abuse because they believed their choices were limited. If they chose to leave their husbands, poverty was almost a certainty. This is less and less true as more women are now entering the workforce than men, and with competitive incomes sometimes as great as or greater than their husbands’, power has shifted. For this reason, staying in a marriage is increasingly a matter of choice, not money.

(2) Allocation: Another source of conflict is how the money is spent. Traditionally, men have made the “big” decisions concerning how money should be spent. This includes the purchase of homes, cars, boats and electronics. Women, on the other hand, have made the “small” decisions concerning the expenditure of money. This includes items such as groceries, clothing and cleaning supplies — and even this money to purchase such items was often handed out by the husband in the form of a weekly allowance. Now as women “bring home the bacon” too, many are demanding an equal say in how the money is spent —both little and big items.

(3) Distribution: Now, in dual income families, many women want more say-so in the decisions concerning when money should be spent. “Do we purchase a new car or put that money in retirement savings?” “Do we put a new dishwasher on a credit card or wait until we have saved enough to pay in cash?” “Do we take a cruise for a vacation, or do we save the money for our children’s education?” Disagreements concerning how money should be spent can result in bitter conflicts. In order to avoid such conflicts, some couples actually hide money from each other in an effort to maintain the freedom to spend “their money” as they choose.

It’s time to bring money out of the closet and into the open. Openly discussing how, when and where money should be spent, plus preparing and adhering to a monthly budget, can greatly reduce the potential conflict in a marriage. Failure to do so can bring much unnecessary pain and potentially lead to the dissolving of a marriage.

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