Money In Marriage: Do Finances Impact Intimacy?
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Let’s talk money and marriage…and intimacy. Are you and your spouse financially intimate? Do you even know what financial intimacy is? In addition to emotional, physical, and spiritually connecting with your life partner, being in unity financially is also very important for a healthy relationship.
When talking about marital intimacy, usually topics like emotional connections, physical connections, spiritual intimacy, and better communication come up.
But if you neglect the ability to work together on managing your money? Well, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Just look at the statistics on marriage and money!
A Lack of Financial Intimacy Can Lead to Divorce
I’m going to throw a few statistics at you because I really want to drive home just how important this topic is.
A Money.com survey of 1,000 married adults found that money is the number one argument source for couples. That means couples argue about money more than chores, more than sex…even more than snoring.
And the connection between arguing about money and divorce is cut-and-dry: the National Marriage Project found that:
- “…feeling that one’s spouse spent money foolishly increased the likelihood of divorce 45 percent for both men and women”
- “…financial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples, and generate more negative conflict tactics, such as yelling or hitting, especially among husbands”
- “…conflict over money matters predicts divorce better than other types of disagreement”
That’s quite sobering.
So, what exactly does Financial Intimacy look like?
What Financial Intimacy Looks Like
You might think that having financial intimacy means you have all of your money ducks in a row. Don’t worry – we’re not shooting for the moon, here.
Rather, we’re looking for the kinds of skills that will allow you and your spouse to work through whatever money problems (and other problems) life throws at you.
I want to give you an idea of what good Financial Intimacy does look like, so you know what to work towards.
For starters, you have to check these behaviors at the door:
- One partner consistently pushing their money agenda over the other’s
- Not taking a partner’s wants/needs into account when dealing with money, because they don’t speak up as much
- One person taking all control of the finances
- Financial Infidelity, or hiding parts of the finances from a spouse
- Not giving access to all financial accounts to your partner
- Turning a blind eye to the finances because your partner will “take care of it”
- Unfair spending or control of money based off of each partner’s earnings
If we’re getting rid of all that financial baggage, then what do we need to replace it with?
Here’s indicators of healthy financial intimacy:
- Each partner feels their money needs and wants are being heard, in a safe space
- Each partner has some control over the money decisions (how it’s spent, how it’s saved, etc.)
- Each partner has a role in managing the finances
Now that you see what Financial Intimacy should look like, and what it should NOT look like, let’s turn to the 3 foundations you need to build a solid financial future together.
The 3 Foundations to a Solid Financial Future with Your Partner
The first foundation you want to set up is how you’ll be combining your finances.
Now, if you’re a couple who wants to keep everything separate – that’s fine. But you should know that when you are married to someone, you can not completely separate your finances. It’s a financial union as well.
When combining your finances, you can keep separate accounts, keep combined accounts, or do a hybrid approach where you have one common checking account where bills are paid out of, but separate accounts for each of you as well. You’ll want to then fund that common account with a proportionally fair amount of money to cover bills (proportional to income earned).
Foundation number two that you want to have in place is a way to easily manage your money together. I’ve written an entire article reviewing the best budgeting apps for couples because they can make the difference between a load of money miscommunications (has anyone else ever gone to the store to find out there’s not enough in the account because your partner spent too much?), and starting to really manage your money as a team.
And the third foundation you need to have in place is to have routine money date nights or money meetings. I like to call these “money quickies”, and I’ve got a free resource, plus how-to, for your marriage financial planning dates here.
Whether you’ve come away from this thinking you’ve got to change some behaviors, or that your partner has to change some behaviors, or that you’re doing pretty well with financial intimacy, just remember this: it’s a work in progress. As is the rest of your marriage.
Start today with repairing the financial intimacy in your marriage, and who knows where you might be even six months from now!
Amanda L Grossman is the brain behind FrugalConfessions.com, where she helps Chief Family Officers (CFOs) learn how to control their money so that they can save a lot of it and live they life they want. You can also find her at MoneyProdigy.com, where she partners with Mamas to teach their kids all about how to manage money through money educational adventures, like the Mt. Everest Money Simulation.