themes in marriage and finances statistics

 In Money Habits & Attitudes Blog

We track and list marriage and finances statistics because they tell part of the story behind why people use Money Habitudes. After all, what marriage and finances statistics show is that money plays a big role in whether marriages are healthy or not.

General themes in marriage and finances statistics

statisticsOne of the themes that one sees when looking at marriage and finances statistics is that money is a big source of disagreements for couples. That couples fight over money (or because of money) is perhaps self-evident. However, it’s interesting to see how consistently money ranks as the top cause of couples’ arguments. It beats out chores and in-laws, among other sources of couples’ fights.

Marriage and finances statistics: being able to talk about money

Another theme that ones sees when looking at marriage and finances statistics is that couples don’t talk about money. The stats show that this is true when couples are dating and when they are married. Looking at the marriage and money stats, one sees that couples often don’t talk about money unless they have to talk about money. This is true with day-to-day expenditures, spending for special occasions (like buying gifts for the holidays, going on vacation, etc.) and just general budgeting and financial planning.

Underlying messages in marriage and finances statistics

Of course, while it’s hard to talk about money and money is often the reason why couples fight, the reality is that there’s usually another reason that couples fight. Money is a proxy for many other issues in relationships. That might be trust, respect, freedom, generosity, self-worth, love, security, independence, etc.

money argumentTo illustrate some of the marriage and finances statistics, here ere are a few examples of “money issues:”

  • One spouse discovers the other has a secret account or a secret stash of cash. Here, the person hiding the money may be satisfying a need for security – to feel like there’s money in an emergency, if someone loses a job, etc. – but the spouse assumes there’s a great deal of mistrust. This supposed financial infidelity can then become a big source of conflict.
  • One spouse stays home and takes care of the kids. The other spouse works full-time. To the working spouse, who also manages the household’s financial accounts, it makes sense to ration out money to the other person according to a well conceived budget. However, this can feel like being on an allowance and losing one’s freedom. Here, money is the issue but the argument that may be simmering is about respect and independence.

Money Habitude’s role in marriage and finances

A big part of helping couples talk about money in a healthy way is to help them understand themselves and each other when it comes to money. There are certainly times when professional marriage counseling makes sense here, but there are other times when smaller steps may do the trick. Money Habitudes helps couples talk about money and understand each other in a few different ways.

  • It is a self-assessment to help people understand their money personality: their unique saving and spending habits, the context in which they were raised with money (e.g., family of origin, culture, etc.), financial goals, etc. It is not uncommon for someone to do the quick Money Habitudes activity and have a real breakthrough in understanding: “Oh, I never realized that was why I’m always spending that way!” As with many personality tests (e.g. Myers-Briggs, etc.), there is great power in objectively understanding one’s self, how one got to be a certain way and how others see you and your actions.
  • It provides a common money language that is easy to understand and non-threatening. Instead of a wife calling her husband “cheap,” for example, she may come to see that not spending money may be one’s need for Security coming through. Taking out negative, charged language can go a long way in ameliorating fights about money.
  • It’s a fun hands-on activity that provides a framework to discuss money. It is easier to say, “Let’s do this specific activity,” than it is to say, “Let’s just sit down and talk about our finances.” People often laugh and smile when they read through the questions – a rarity when it comes to talking about money.
  • Money Habitudes doesn’t involve numbers or math; that can come later. Working with numbers and filling in a budget worksheet are important, but math can make people nervous and feel judged. Instead, the financial ice breaker helps people see money in the context of their lives: do you go shopping when you’re stressed, do you often pick up the check for other people when you go out, etc.?
  • In doing the money personality activity, it affords people a way to tell stories and explain their spending habits in a proactive way that makes sense to them. The person with a secret account may reveal that as part of a discussion about growing up with very little money – which leads to a better discussion than when a spouse discovers the secret account without any context. That then leads to a money confrontation rather than a real money conversation.
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