Insight Is 20/20

Exploring the pervasive, and unperceived, patterns that govern our lives

How Financial Problems & Stress Cause Divorce

Financial issues can destroy your relationship if you're not careful.

You’ve probably heard that money problems are one the most significant factors that can lead to divorce. Without doubt, differences in money management styles between two partners can ruin a marriage. In fact, you don’t even need to be married to fall victim to the powerful influence money problems can have on a relationship. You could have been cohabitating for years or have recently begun dating someone, but everyone’s relationship with money is quickly transparent. If you tend to be a little reckless with your money or a negligent financial planner, it is going to negatively affect your partner and the overall longevity of your relationship.

There’s no complicated algorithm to determine whether you are a bad money manager – there are simple signs that flash like neon lights in all the corners of your life.

• You are almost always worried about money.

• You have credit card debt even though you make a decent salary.

• You have a penchant for expensive things.

• You have at least one loan beyond a mortgage or a school loan.

• You have an expensive car but don’t yet own a home or condominium.

• Someone you love (probably your partner) has repeatedly expressed concern about the way you handle money.

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If you have problems managing your money, you and your partner probably argue frequently about money. Added to this, a struggling economy only makes things worse. If you know that money management is a true problem, you must confront the issue head on immediately.

There are several behaviors you can engage in to improve your money management skills. First, take yourself to a local bookstore or search online for books that specifically focus on this subject. Second, it’s time to have a discussion with your partner and for you to make a vow to change your relationship with money. Third, create what I call a Financial Performance Improvement Plan. In this plan, identify two or three specific money problems, create a solution for each, and come up with a deadline by which the problems will be resolved. Again, be specific.

The final suggestion I have for handling money management problems in your relationship is to talk to other couples in your social circle about how they handle the same issues. I refer to this process as conducting interviews, because you essentially want to get answers and ideas from others that you can possibly apply to your own life and improve your circumstances as a result.

With true commitment and time spent making some changes, you can absolutely improve your money management skills and protect the longevity of your relationships all at once.

Seth Meyers, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.

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