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Navigating Financial Harmony: The Top 5 Money Issues for Married People Thumbnail

Navigating Financial Harmony: The Top 5 Money Issues for Married People

By Angela Dorsey

Let’s be honest. Finances can throw a major wrench into the “happily ever after” of any marriage. Disagreements about saving money, debt burdens, and spending priorities can quickly turn a seemingly minor money issue for married people into a major problem.

The services we offer at Dorsey Wealth Management are designed to help you resolve financial issues before they get magnified.

Let’s take a look at the top five financial concerns (and their effects) that we see most often from our married clients.

1. Conflicting Financial Personalities

Let’s start with one of the more common money issues: financial personality clashes. Take a look at the challenges I see most often:  

  • Saver vs. Spender: The saver may view the spender as reckless, while the spender may feel cheated by the saver’s frugality.
  • Financial Objectives: One partner may prefer to focus on adventures or saving for their kids’ college tuition, while the other might want to retire early.
  • Handling Debt: Differing perspectives on debt repayment or unequal debt loads can lead to tension and animosity in a relationship.
  • Risk Tolerance: While some people are more at ease taking financial chances, others are inherently risk-averse. 

These financial personality conflicts can weaken communication, lead to power battles, and fuel major resentment and unhappiness.

2. Communication Breakdown

Communicating openly and honestly about finances is crucial for maintaining marital unity. Keeping secrets about debt or hiding purchases can breed major distrust, leading to years of misunderstanding. 

Without effective communication, it’s easy to see how one partner could think that the household’s finances are going great while the other is stewing in resentment and feeling shut out of a crucial aspect of the relationship.

3. Financial Betrayal

Essentially, financial betrayal boils down to secrecy and deception. Marriage is supposed to be built on trust, and when a partner lies about spending, has a hidden account, or covers up a gambling problem, it can have devastating consequences on a marriage.

The lack of transparency can be just as devastating as the financial infraction itself. It destroys trust, incites animosity, and makes it virtually impossible for a couple to make future plans together. Sometimes financial betrayal can be a sign of more serious problems in the relationship.

4. Uneven Income

Another money issue for married people we see all the time is uneven income. Even if the income gap isn’t that large, unequal take-home pay can cause rifts in a relationship. Check out some of the more potent income-inequality consequences:

  • Power Imbalances: The higher earner may feel entitled to make all financial decisions on their own, which could cause the lower earner to become resentful and feel powerless. This could undermine the partner’s sense of equality and partnership in the relationship.
  • Resentment and Frustration: The person with the lesser income might feel devalued or guilty about not making a larger financial contribution. This could lead to animosity and weaken the emotional bond.
  • Conflicting Spending Priorities: Differing income levels can result in conflicting spending priorities. While the lesser earner may feel unable to maintain the desired lifestyle, the higher earner might perceive the lower earner as too frugal.
  • Anxiety and Stress: Relationship stress and anxiety can be caused by the weight of debt or the need to maintain a particular lifestyle.
  • Impact on Self-Esteem: Income inequality can have an impact on a person’s sense of self-worth, especially if they are the lower earner. Feeling dependent on money can have a detrimental effect on one’s sense of self-worth and exacerbate feelings of inadequacy.

5. Financial Strains

Unexpected expenses, supporting an extended family member, and debt can be a huge financial strain. In a marriage, that burden gets magnified. Even if both parties agree on the need for the financial stress, the constant worry can create significant tension and anxiety.

For example, imagine a hypothetical couple named Brad and Sarah who have been married for five years. They have a young child and live in a small apartment. While they both work hard, their child needs expensive medical treatments. Even though they both agree the expense is worth it, they both feel the pressure of never having enough money at the end of the month. Inevitably, their stress erupts into a heated argument… 

We’re Here to Help

With the collective knowledge and experience of our team at Dorsey Wealth Management, we can partner with you to help enhance your entire financial picture and reduce stress and worry. 

Whether you’re a new or established client and need our help with financial planning, lowering your taxes, strategizing retirement, or optimizing your investments, we’re here to guide you in making the right direction.

You can reach us by calling (310) 370-7776 or emailing angela@dorseywealth.com.

About Angela

Angela Dorsey is the founder and financial advisor at Dorsey Wealth Management, a fee-only financial planning firm helping women prepare for retirement. Angela earned a BS in computer science from Loyola Marymount University, an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management, and spent 20 years as a Senior Compensation Specialist in large corporations before becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). That background gave her the tools to couple with her passion for empowering women to make the best financial decisions possible. Angela lives in Torrance, California, with her husband. She enjoys spending time at the beach or surrounded by nature. To learn more about Angela, connect with her on LinkedIn.