One of the biggest sources of conflict for many couples – and one that often leads to divorce — is money. The conflicts over money don’t have to center around not having enough. Wealthy couples often fight about money, and the most serious conflicts are likely to be about spending habits.
Often this comes down to spouses having different attitudes towards money – generally, spending versus saving. Many people develop their attitudes at an early age, and they shape their relationship with money into adulthood.
Saving versus spending priorities aren’t the only sources of financial conflict
When a person who lives by the “You can’t take it with you” motto and believes that money is meant to be enjoyed is married to someone who believes in having firm savings goals, you have some serious conflicts. If the spouse who likes to buy things runs up credit card bills that the couple can’t pay off, that can lead to additional fights.
Other money matters that couples report fighting over involve:
- Dishonesty about money or spending
- Financial priorities
- Negligence about paying bills
The authors of one study of 4,500 couples concluded, “Financial disagreements did predict divorce more strongly than other common problem areas like disagreements over household tasks or spending time together.”
How these differences manifest during divorce
When couples with very different attitudes about money divorce, there can be challenges in dividing assets – and any debt. A person might not feel like they should have to split the credit card debt their spouse racked up in half.
Further, if one spouse has been using joint accounts to buy things surreptitiously or has hidden money or other assets, the other one may need to bring in financial professionals to do some digging. If the spouse who wants to “have it all” seeks to continue their lifestyle even though their husband or wife was the one who largely paid for that lifestyle, there could be a battle over spousal support.
If money has caused a rift in your marriage that – at least in part – contributed to divorce, it’s crucial to have experienced legal and financial guidance as you work out your property division and other agreements.