Fifty percent of all marriages fail, and financial problems are the leading cause of separation by a factor of 4:1 or 80% of all causes. Isn’t that alarming? Yet, it is true that the number one cause of marital problems are arguments on money. This is one sad fact about money, but this is the reality.
I don’t know if you have experienced this, but financial problems usually do not even emanate from either you or your spouse. It can be because of a third party. Do you get what I mean by third party? Well, as Filipinos, we are clannish. There is always that probability that one side of the family, say your immediate relatives, needs money.
I would like to share with you some practical tips on what my wife and I have agreed on how to avoid conflicts with regards to money.
Tip No. 1: Open Only a Joint Account
Never keep a separate or secret account from your spouse. Friends and relatives will usually come to the wife or the bride-to-be and offer unsolicited advice, such as “If I were you, I will open another bank account. You do not know what will happen in the future. You know what I mean, just in case.” If you open another account and listen to the advice, unconsciously you have opened the idea of a possibility that your husband will cheat on you someday. You have already allowed the negative idea that your husband will not remain faithful in your marriage. The foundation of all marriages is trust. Trust must be preserved right from the first day of marriage.
Tip No. 2: Keep Your Personal Income Private
Never allow any of your immediate relatives to know how much money you are making in a month and how much money you have in the bank. Why? Let’s say your brother knows that you have saved P100,000 in the bank. The money is intended for the tuition of your children. All of a sudden he needs P30,000 for personal reasons. Who do you think your brother will call for help? Ghostbusters! I don’t think so. The first person he would think of and call will be you. Even if you explain that the money is for the tuition of your kids, he may still feel sad that you weren’t there for him when he needed you most.
What if your immediate relatives ask how much you are making in a month? My wife and I have agreed on a standard answer, “Just enough!” If they insist on asking how much specifically, we just tell them that we are making just enough to meet our needs.
These issues, if left unresolved, will cause strain as well as a tense environment in the relationship as husband and wife. So discuss, disclose, and agree as a couple on what are the limits you want to set in terms of extending help and support to your immediate family. This will help avoid miscommunications, disagreements, and stress in your relationship. In reality, money will be a constant concern in our lives.