It’s an unfortunate fact that money woes are among the leading causes of divorce. Overwhelming credit card debt, differing spending and saving habits, or any one of a number of other financial problems can lead down the path to a split.
One situation that can easily cause jealousy and disharmony is income inequality in a marriage. If you are in such a situation, here are five ways to prevent those feelings of envy and insecurity:
1. Have the “Money Talk”
This is a good idea in any marriage, but especially when one spouse earns more than the other. Here are six basic questions you must ask yourselves:
- Will bank accounts be merged?
- Who will pay the bills?
- What parameters are there for major purchases?
- What is your strategy to save for retirement?
- How will an emergency fund be created?
- How will college costs be saved for?
2. Schedule Money Discussions
Discussing household finances can be an unpleasant part of a marriage, but it’s necessary, especially if you want your relationship to last. This is coming from someone who knows – I divorced in 2010, and one of the main factors was money.
To prevent festering and hurt feelings, put together a schedule of when and where you will discuss finances. Every two weeks at the least is a good idea. That way, if there’s nothing of concern, the conversation is short and sweet. If some sort of irritation has been building up, this is the time for either spouse to get it off his or her chest. Plan to have these talks during times when you can discuss without interruption.
3. Jointly Participate in Family Finances
Another great way to eliminate jealousy is for both of you to participate in the family finances. If one person earns more and is in charge of the finances, this can lead to undue influence in how the money is spent. If both parties become involved in bill payment, as well as the spending and saving decisions, this decreases the chance of envy and resentment.
4. Encourage Partner to Make More Money
To help discourage jealousy about money, the spouse who makes more should encourage the other to find ways to generate more income. They can sell unused items on the Internet, complete online surveys, or organize a garage sale. Asking for a raise at work or even starting a side business can help to generate a great deal of additional money.
When it comes down to it, money means a lot in a relationship – and anyone who tells you any different just isn’t being truthful. However, regardless of economic disparities or any other financial differences, it is quite possible to maintain a strong relationship. As long as it’s built on communication, honesty, and trust, there’s no reason why you can’t succeed.
What other ways can you think of to handle jealousy related to income?
David Bakke recently went through a divorce where one of the main causes was money. He writes about finances and family budgeting on Money Crashers, a top personal finance blog.