You and your spouse probably have different approaches to finances. Here are some common conflicts and how to get past them.
Different Money Styles
Opposites attract, and that's especially true when it comes to dealing with money. Even if both partners start off their relationship with similar ways of handling money, over time they will become opposites, says Olivia Mellan, author of Money Harmony. For instance, if two spenders marry, eventually one will become a saver relative to the other, she says. "Otherwise, they end up bankrupt in four minutes."
Mellen, a therapist for 42 years, has identified six categories of money opposites: The spender and the saver or hoarder. The money avoider and the money worrier. The risk taker and the risk avoider. The money merger (who wants to combine all the finances) and the money separatist. The planner ( who digs into the nitty-gritty detail) and the dreamer (who has a grand vision but no idea how to get there). The partner who thinks money is corrupting and the money amasser who believes that the person who dies with the most money wins.
Opposite styles often lead to friction, which is why money consistency one of the top causes of marital conflict, Mellen says. Spouses need to learn to empathize with each other by walking in the other person's shoes. She recommends an exercise in which each spouse adopts the other's money style for at least six weeks. So the spender, say, would save money while the hoarder would open the purse strings. This will move them closer to each other's style- or at least give each a better understanding of the other's viewpoint. They can repeat the exercise when they drift far apart in styles again, she says.
By Eileen Ambrose, Kiplinger's Personal Finance