How to Prevent Money From Ruining Your Marriage

It started out small: I asked a question about why my husband had spent money on a specific item. But it quickly caught flame and became a full-on money fight. Shaken and scared, I was left wondering, “Will money be the thing that ruins our marriage?”

If money is causing tension in your relationship, you aren’t alone. According to a survey by Ally Bank, more than a third of couples say money is their top cause of stress. A recent LearnVest study discovered 68% of Americans in relationships believe money causes more tension than their sex life. And, the stakes are high. Money is cited as the top cause of divorce after infidelity. And the interesting thing is, it’s not the lack of money that’s causing that stress. It’s lack of alignment — differing financial spending habits and financial goals. Money has the power to tear your relationship apart — if you let it.

I don’t want your relationship to become another statistic.

So, what’s a well-meaning, loving couple to do? The answer is pretty simple: Start communicating about money on a regular basis. Share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Focus on your dreams and goals for the future, not your past failings, and make a concrete plan to make those dreams a reality.

It took that big blow-up for me to decide that I wouldn’t let money get in the way of our relationship. As a financial educator, I knew all of the strategies of how to use money well on my own, but applying all of that knowledge to a marriage where there were two different money opinions, beliefs, goals, and strategies was an entirely different animal. I tried a lot of things that didn’t work, but eventually landed on something that completely transformed our marriage - monthly money dates.

We put in the work month after month to get a clear vision of where we wanted to go as a couple and how we would get there. It took just about every communication tool in our marriage toolbox: empathy, vulnerability, listening, asking good questions, discernment, and more. But we are now at the place where all of that hard work has paid off: Instead of money being a barrier getting in the way of our relationship, it is now one of our greatest strengths. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we had a disagreement about money.

I started my date night club because I want to help couples do the hard work of having open and honest conversations about money. I’ve put my financial educator skills to work to come up with a series of topics I think every couple should talk about: goal-setting, budgeting, balancing multiple financial priorities, and more. Join, and each month, I’ll send you an email where we take on one of these topics piece by piece. You’ll leave the table feeling more confident about your financial life, one step closer to making your goals a reality, and, most importantly, more connected with your partner.

If money is a source of tension in your relationship, you can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity. Let me be your guide. I’ll show you what to focus on and what you can let go of. I’ll give you conversation starters that spark connections, not arguments. And, I’ll teach you everything I know about money along the way.

If you’ve been debating about joining Date Night Club now is your chance. I’m re-opening my membership to this club for $9.99/month ($7.99/month if you pay for the entire year). For less than the price of takeout, you can have fresh financial content delivered straight to your inbox every month. What’s not to love? Join today!

Here are the five cornerstones that have made our date nights successful:

1.     Set the Date, Set the Tone: After hearing about friends who talk about their budgets over pancakes on a Saturday morning, we decided to start a budget check-in tradition of our own by going out to our favorite restaurant for burgers and Arnold Palmers. For my husband, it was really important that we be outside of the house to cut down on distractions, reduce anxiety, and give both of us something to look forward to.

Tip: Don’t delay: Put a date on your calendar to talk about money. Then, make it fun by cooking a special breakfast, going to your favorite coffee shop, or bringing home cupcakes.

2.     Step in with Faith, not Fear: Trust me: Money can be something that brings you together and deepens your intimacy. Find that difficult to believe right now? Go in with the hope that there is a way for the two of you to come together without compromising the things you care about most.

Tip: If this is your first conversation or your money conversations lately have been pretty tense, try one of my money date night icebreakers to get the conversation started and headed in a positive direction.

3.     Focus on the Future, not the Past: This isn’t the time to mull over all of your past grievances, it’s the time to place your sights on the future: What do you want your life to look like in 10 years, and what steps do you need to take to get there? Agreeing on where you are going is one of the best things you can do for your relationship and your money life. This shared vision gives you a clear barometer to use as you make money decisions today: Is this getting us closer to or further away from our goal?

Tip: Spend some time working through this activity designed to help you craft that vision of a fulfilling life together.

4.     Get Clear on Where You are Today: I get it, dreaming about the future can be so fun; looking at where you are today … not so much. However, the only way you can begin to move toward that vision is if you know where you are starting from and what steps you’ll need to take to get there. Take a deep breath and dive into the numbers.

Tip: Use my 20-minute financial check-in to guide you, so you don’t get too caught up in the minutiae.

5.     Be Curious About Your Partner’s Strengths: I believe everyone (yes, everyone!) has gifts when it comes to using money. Every money personality is different. Head into the conversation with ear toward the gifts your partner is bringing to the table. Do your best to lift your partner up instead of tearing them down. Point out their strengths, not their weaknesses.

Tip: Not sure what your partner’s gifts might be? Check out my blog post on money personalities to learn more about each personality’s strengths and blind spots.

I’ve been writing this blog now for more than a year exploring many different areas of finance, and I think I’ve finally landed on my niche: I help couples transform their relationship and deepen their intimacy by having open and honest conversation about money, and guide them through the process of connecting their money and their values to create a fulfilling life for both partners.

This week on Instagram and Facebook, I’m sharing a series of videos modeled after my favorite radio show, “This I Believe.” For a few minutes each day, I’ll be sharing my core beliefs about money and relationships.  And join me for this week’s Instagram live (sorry no Facebook) Thursday, May 16, at 8pm (Central) with Money & Relationships expert Adam Kol.

And don’t forget to check out my new Date Night Club pricing - who knew you could transform your marriage and deepen your intimacy for less than $10/month!