Studies have shown that 39 percent of married couples pegged finance as a primary reason for conflict, with 93 % of surveyed placing it among the top two sources of conflict. However, quoting award winning marriage therapist and author Barton Goldsmith, “couples find it harder to talk about money than sex.” Why? Money often holds deep attachments and meanings to different people. If you are lucky you will have had financial discussions before you got married but if you didn’t it’s never too late to start.
One partner may regard money as a source of security and thus put emphasis on saving while their partner regards money as a source of happiness hence spend more. When such underlying beliefs are not discussed, they eventually turn to conflict, add family to the equation and you’ve got yourself a volcano. Here are three simple ways to manage family financial responsibilities better.
Establish Each Other’s Beliefs About Money
Financial disagreements are rarely about checks and a thousand shilling notes. One’s opinion about money often reveals deep beliefs, backgrounds and values that they have grown up with. So it’s only natural to have different principles; that’s why it might sometimes be difficult for your partner to support your latest decision (or vice versa) to buy your campus-age sibling the latest Ksh. 100,000 iPhone; because they didn’t have it the same way growing up.
However, only when such beliefs are put on the table can you then find a common ground and chart a way forward. Such discussions are not necessarily to discredit or prove one opinion right over the other but to create a mutual understanding of where the other person is coming from.
Collaborate in Establishing the Needs for Both Sides of the Family
Juggling the needs of your nuclear and those of the extended family which, unless in special circumstances usually comes in two, will require sacrifice. Comments like, “ah! Your mom doesn’t even need the money anyway,” can easily be misunderstood for favouritism or simply not caring about your partner’s family’s wellbeing.
This is precisely why you should sit down, at a designated time and away from distractions; establish the financial needs from both sides; mapping out the immediate needs from those that can wait a little longer. David Bach in his 2002 bestseller Smart Couples Finish Rich says that couples who function as a team are happier than couples who perpetually disagree about finance. Hence, when having this discussion, approach it collaboratively with each other’s view of money in mind.
Make a plan by mapping out all the expenses you have as a couple and determine how much you can spare to be used for family support. Clearly laying out your wants and needs will enable you to see the areas you can save on and the costs you can cut. One of the areas where financial support to the extended family can bring conflict is when they interfere with the long-term goals of the couple. If you had planned to buy a house, save for your kids, invest in stock etc. and then one partner keeps on diverting money to family members, this can bring resentment. Thus, map out everything in a written budget and stick to it.
Moreover, consider agreeing on a maximum amount that you both can give to family members without having to inform the other. This sort of arrangement can give you some financial wiggle room when dealing with family, while at the same time avoiding negative effects on your relationship. Financial disagreements when left to build up can strain marriages.
Researcher Jan D. Anderson in a 2001 study titled; Financial Problems as Predictors of Divorce concluded that financial problems are stressors that affect marital quality and satisfaction. As such, it is better to take precaution and discuss it with your partner in order to manage finances better before it’s too late.
Finances are important and can do so many things to help us achieve our dreams and aspirations. As a couple, you probably have bills you need to pay, school fees as well as well as other financial needs. But this can be hard when your spouse loses their job or their business collapses and you were depending on their income. Here are some tips on how to manage finances when one partner loses their job