Maureen and Dave Gomes, who have been married for more than six years, have
a system for managing their money: one joint bank account that they both
contribute to on a monthly basis and draw from for all house expenses, like the
mortgage and electric bill; and two separate, personal accounts, which after
their monthly contributions leaves them with their own money to spend. Last but
not least, they work on their long-term financial goals together and manage
big-ticket items, like cars and vacations, as a team.
"We created this system when we moved in together before we got married,"
says Maureen. "For us, it works. But I do have to say that it would probably
fall apart if we didn't communicate well about our spending, act responsibly,
and make decisions together."
Maureen and Dave have figured out how to mix marriage and money in a way
that works for them both. Other couples, however, aren't as lucky.
"With the state of the economy, with housing issues, credit problems, more
and more couples are facing serious marriage and money problems, even
bankruptcy," says William Harley, PhD, author of His Needs, Her Needs:
Building an Affair-proof Marriage;
Experts explain to WebMD the common financial scenarios couples often face,
and offer practical tips for resolving them.
relationship been affected by money? How did you cope? Talk with others on
our Couples Coping: Support Group message board.)
Scenario 1: Neglect = Marriage and Money Problems
Do you find yourself fighting with your spouse over the money he or she
spends? Do you frequently spend money yourself, in excess, to spite your spouse
because you're angry? While it may seem like money is a serious bone of
contention in your marriage, there could be something more to blame.
"Often, in couples who are arguing about money, it's not money that's the
problem," says Harley. "Instead, the money fights are a byproduct of
In cases like these, money becomes a weapon, explains Harley. One spouse
uses the other's spending habits as ammunition, bringing up his or her spending
when it will hurt the most. Or a spouse spends to get even, even when he or she
knows the spending is in excess of the couple's budget.
"Our relationship dynamics and resentments get played out with money," says
Jenn Berman, PhD, a marriage and family therapist. "It's not uncommon to see a
person get mad at his or her spouse, and then go out and buy something as
What's the solution? Find a good marriage counselor, and work through your
relationship issues, explains Berman.
"Working through a couple's relationship issues can also help solve their
financial problems," Harley tells WebMD. "When you fix the root cause, the
subsequent problems like money improve as well."