What are the common causes for divorce? Annoying habits, incompatibility, prioritising work over family, and cheating on your spouse come to mind.
But the number one reason is money. Ongoing financial problems lead to tension, stress, arguments and ultimately divorce.
Quarrels about finances can put enormous tension on relationships unless you get a handle on money issues that can potentially ruin your relationship.
1. Overspending on the wedding
Depending on how elaborate you want it to be, the of cost weddings can put a serious dent in your bank account and/or rack up serious debt.
For example, a Chinese wedding can run up to six figures. The more lavish you want the wedding to be, the more money is required. Doubly so with an open bar that is often viewed as a cultural norm.
According to research at Emory University called “A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales”, the duration of a marriage is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.
This means not only is it a bad idea financially to spend a lot on these things, but higher spending leads to a greater likelihood of divorce.
2. Flawed financial expectations
Financial expectations before marriage and financial realities after marriage are two different things.
What do you know about your soon-to-be spouse? Finance-wise, is he or she stable? It is surely worth some consideration.
Relationship experts agree it is not going to be comfortable but you have to do it. One spouse’s debt has a significant impact on household finances.
If you love your other half, you should come clean. Share with them the problems and vices you face. They ought to know what they are getting into.
If you display commitment and the willpower to get rid of your internal issues for the sake of the family, your better half will be with you through the end.
If they leave you due to your openness, then good riddance. He or she is not your life partner.
3. Differences in income: Not about ‘you’, ‘me’ but ‘us’
In a marriage, it is no longer just about “you” or “me”. It’s about “us”. A couple has to function as a team on matters affecting the family.
Decision-making must be consultative regardless of individual earnings. Earning power is not a reason for being the overriding decision maker. It’s best to agree earlier on who will take charge of handling the household finances including the payment of bills.
Do always bring big expenditures to the table for discussion and decision-making. For example when buying a car, making an investment, or going on holiday. The decision on a high-value purchase may impact the immediate short-term cash flow.
4. Absence of household budgets
Many couples take care of a few expenses individually. The spouses’ incomes are not pooled as household income. There is no tracking and monitoring of expenses, no budget set and no financial plan for the household.
As a result, household finances are messed-up, resulting in family arguments.
Every household must have a budget and track their expenses if they wish to manage their money well. Knowing your income is easy. But identifying where you spend the money is a problem if you do not track it.
Generating a budget and tracking expenses are tedious but the benefits are big.
With the plethora of free online tools, budgeting is now much easier. You can track all your expenses on spreadsheets, websites, or apps. There are many great budgeting software available. So, it is worth reviewing budgeting tools and selecting the one most suited to you.
5. Spending on the sly
Not telling your spouse of your not-budgeted-for expenses or worse, lying about it, can create marital mayhem.
It’s not about the purchase. It’s about being informed and telling the truth. In such instances, losing faith in your partner because of the lie is more harmful than the initial action of buying the stuff.
Don’t be accused of financial infidelity. It is not a financial disaster to purchase something on sale. But it becomes a big deal when you lie about it.
It is important to be transparent and honest as this involves joint financial goals. Meeting the goals require commitment, discipline, and trust from both spouses. Otherwise, there is no point in having a household budget.
6. Spending like you’re single
Keeping the same money habits and mindset you had when you were single is unsustainable.
Being single and married are two different stages of a person’s life where priorities are different. With new expenses (children, mortgage, family car) at the same income level, spending like when you were single will cast doubt on the family’s future financial security and stability.
As a married couple, you must reset your priorities and spending habits. You must save money for healthcare, an education fund, and house mortgage. The family is the priority now. Everything else takes a backseat.
7. Overly restrictive spending
Being too restrictive about spending will backfire. You must set aside money for fun, guilt-free spending.
The need to discuss with your other half about each one of your purchases can be frustrating. Arguments may arise when you need to explain and defend a purchase that your spouse does not approve of.
A too-strict budget with no room for some frivolous spending may give rise to financial infidelity.
Many relationship experts recommend having distinct allocations or “fun money” for frivolous spending.
Each month, spouses can spend a certain amount on things they want. No explanation needed. But, both spouses must keep within the overall budget.
This article first appeared in https://mypf.my