Couples Who Fight about Money May Have Bigger Problems
Eileen Yager, Communications Officer, Extension & Ag Information, University of Missouri, firstname.lastname@example.org
When couples argue about money, often those disagreements are a sign of bigger problems in the relationship. The real issue often is not about the family’s finances but with the relationship itself, according to a Human Development Specialist at the University of Missouri.
“Financial decisions have to be made almost every day,” said Nina Chen,
an MU Extension Specialist, so it’s easy to see the
problem as money - who earns it, who spends it and how.
“There is usually some underlying issue about power, control, personal
values, commitment, goals and trust,” she said.
It’s those issues that couples should focus on first. “Having a deeper
understanding about each other, couples are more likely
to achieve their goals together rather than apart,” she
Those issues, Chen said, need to be addressed before jumping
immediately into problem solving.
Chen recommends starting with a discussion of the problem to understand
your partner’s feelings and feel understood by your
partner. “This establishes the foundation for a solution
to come,” she said.
“Fixing a problem without first building mutual trust and understanding
doesn’t result in a lasting solution,” she said. “Before
trying to solve the problem, it’s important to discuss
the issues and concerns.
“Couples need to talk openly and honestly, and put everything on the
table,” she said, adding that partners should clearly
state issues and concerns.
In many instances, Chen said, many couples find that after a good
discussion, there is no need to come up with a solution.
“Just having a good discussion is enough,” she said.
If couples need to discuss solutions, Chen recommends that couples
begin that discussion by setting the agenda to decide
which pieces of the issue to work on.
The next step is brainstorming, coming up with as many ideas as
possible. “During this step, do not criticize or
evaluate ideas,” Chen said.
In the third step, agreement and compromise, she said, couples can
begin their discussion, weighing the pros and cons of
each idea and settling on a solution. Couples should
clarify what each will do and by when as part of that
solution, she said.
Finally, Chen said, couples need to follow up. “Schedule a time and
place to discuss how the solution is working,” she said.
“If it’s not working, go back to the problem discussion
and problem solution steps.”
Chen said couples should realize that not all disagreements are
destructive. “Some conflicts have beneficial effects,”
she said. “Disagreements can enhance trust, lead to
greater sharing, honor, respect and acceptance.”
Source: Nina Chen, (816) 876-2781
Last Updated 05/12/2009