Financial mismanagement can create fissures in even the strongest of relationships. Not only can reckless spending endanger your financial future, it also encroaches on the essential elements of a strong relationship, like trust, open communication, and mutual respect.
In this article, we’ll discuss 10 actionable steps that can help you address reckless spending and other financial problems with your spouse–and navigate toward more secure shores.
Buckle up; it’s time for some tough conversations.
Risks of Reckless Spending in Marriage
The Stress Quotient: How Reckless Spending Increases Anxiety
Money worries can evolve into full-blown anxiety disorders.
When one spouse is financially irresponsible, it’s not uncommon for the other to endure sleepless nights due to stress.
Sinking Together: The Shared Consequence of Financial Irresponsibility
When financial instability enters a marriage, it usually affects both spouses.
Shared bank accounts may be drained and credit scores can plunge due to the irresponsible actions of one person.
Unresolved Financial Issues May Create a Rift
Picture this. After working so hard to build a life and perhaps raise a family together, you notice that your partner has been keeping things from you.
He or she has been spending beyond their means, with little explanation as to where the money came from or where the money goes.
Especially for money that comes from your joint savings or investments, this can be a huge source of financial mistrust between spouses.
Whether it’s caused by undisclosed personal debts or a gambling problem, this kind of reckless spending can cause a significant rift among couples.
The Possibility of Divorce
Not everyone is willing to tolerate a financially reckless marriage partner. This explains why financial disagreements are a common cause of divorce and separation in the United States.
The process of getting a divorce is never easy (and not what anyone plans for going into a marriage), but the stress of money problems leads many couples to call it quits.
Wealth vs Health: Emotional Toll of Money Problems
Done right, money can be a tool that provides comfort and security. Mismanaged, it becomes a burden wearing away emotional well-being over time.
However, reckless spending can be addressed before it gets worse. Here’s how candid communication can help.
Talking to Your Spouse About Reckless Spending: 10 Tips
1. Choose the Right Time and Place
Find a quiet and private time to have this conversation. Avoid doing it during a heated argument or when tensions are high.
2. Stay Calm and Composed
Keep your emotions in check during the conversation. Try to remain calm and composed to ensure a productive dialogue.
3. Use “I” Statements
Frame your concerns using “I” statements to express your feelings and perspective without blaming or accusing your spouse.
For example, say, “I feel worried about our financial situation” rather than “You’re always spending too much money.”
This can prevent you from becoming the villain in the situation.
4. Focus on Specific Behaviors
Instead of making broad accusations, point out specific instances of overspending that have raised concerns. Provide concrete examples to illustrate your points.
However, you’ll still need to do this cautiously, in a non-judgmental way if possible, after seeking to know why your spouse went on a spending spree.
5. Listen Actively
Yes, you’re innocent until proven guilty in the court of marriage.
Give your spouse a chance to explain their perspective. Listen attentively without interrupting. Try to understand their motivations and reasoning behind their financial decisions.
6. Express Your Concerns
Open communication isn’t always a walk in the park, but it’s vital in any healthy relationship.
Clearly communicate why your spouse’s spending is a concern for you, and talk about the impact it’s had on the financial well-being of the family.
Let them know how you see the overall health of your relationship from your perspective since these concerns began.
7. Suggest Solutions
When having the money talk with your spouse, don’t just pile on the criticism without offering help.
Instead, offer constructive solutions or compromises that can address the issue. This might include setting up a budget, discussing financial goals, or seeking professional financial advice.
Go over examples of feasible solutions like cutting back on unnecessary expenses, exploring additional income sources, and other ideas.
8. Consider Professional Help
If reckless spending continues to be a major issue and threatens your relationship, consider seeking the assistance of a financial counselor or therapist to mediate the discussion and provide guidance.
Couples therapy is often not a fan favorite, but it’s been shown to help prevent separation and divorce, especially among couples with kids.
9. Be Patient
Change takes time. Your spouse may not immediately agree to your proposed solutions. Be patient and open to ongoing discussions.
10. Reinforce Your Love and Commitment
Lastly, remember to reassure your spouse about your love and commitment. Unless the situation is way out of hand, make it clear that the conversation is intended to address the issue and strengthen your relationship, not cause division or tension.
Navigating financial problems with a spouse isn’t an easy task. The talks can be cold, and even ugly, at times. But getting a handle on your finances is imperative for the long-term health of your relationship.
By turning these uncomfortable conversations into constructive solutions, you can head off potential catastrophe, and start on a path to shared prosperity.
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