Money Madness in Relationships

by | Apr 14, 2024

One of the most common topics of arguments among couples is money. Furthermore, it is often the subject of perpetual problems for many. Couples fight about money over and over without resolution. Typically, one partner is more of a saver and the other partner is more of a spender. It’s tough because no two people are exactly the same in their beliefs about how to allocate funds—and the greater the disconnect, the greater the problem. On top of that, the issue is usually much deeper than it appears on the surface.


Your Childhood Informs You


If you were brought up in a household where money was scarce, you are bound to have different attitudes toward money than your spouse if he was brought up in a home of abundance. You may want to put money away to ensure you have enough for emergencies while your spouse may feel entitled to enjoy life with the money he has worked hard for.

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Sarah had an uncle who went bankrupt paying for medical procedures even though he had insurance, a true hardship that ruined his life. It made Sarah mindful of just how precarious her situation was, and it motivated her to save money every chance she got. Meanwhile, her spouse, Jack, grew up in a joyless home where money was rarely spent on having fun experiences and making memories. While he realized it was important to save some, he did want to take some well-earned vacations with Sarah. That meant spending money. It was a perpetual problem.


Sarah was motivated by fear. If her uncle could be destroyed by medical debt, what other unforeseen catastrophes could affect her and Jack’s financial stability? There were too many possibilities for financial failure, and Sarah was afraid of them all. She and Jack had different values and financials goals.


Start With a Conversation


Once you realize that money disagreements may exist because of deeper issues, you can have a conversation with your partner to get below the surface and discover the feelings behind their money attitudes.


The key, as always, is to listen with a full heart and mind. That means you’re not formulating a response while your partner is talking. Just listen with sympathy. No judgement, no criticism, no minimizing your partner’s feelings. When it’s your turn to talk, do so honestly and openly.


You both need to express your core beliefs behind your values, and why you feel the way you do. You need to understand the deeper purpose in your spouse’s feelings as well as your own. You both need to share what you need now and hope for in the future.


After you understand each other’s feelings, it should be easier to compromise about money issues, and perhaps even reach an agreement that satisfies you both.



Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here:



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