Is Money Causing Stress In Your Marriage?

Many couples find that finances are a prime source of friction. And, like most couples, you may never really discuss with one another the financial facts of your life. How do you feel about money? How does your spouse feel about money? What's a financial necessity and what is a luxury? How should money be handled and who should handle what? What are you and your wife/husband's long term financial goals? If most couples would take the time to get close and discuss money like this, they would have discovered that although they may have different ideas about saving and spending, perhaps they could have resolved these differences before they became too divisive.

If relationships that go down the tubes due to money stress are like yours, then take the time to sit together with bank statements, pencil, paper, calculator and draw up a workable budget that you can stick to. You may have to spend a few weeks jotting down what you each spend during the day so you can see where every penny goes. Most of us are aware of the beg expenses, but it's the smaller ones (dry cleaning, drugstore items, food) that slip by but add up. Write down your fixed costs: rent, mortgage payments, child-care expenses, insurance. Then include costs that are more flexible: entertainment, clothing, food, and so on. What can you cut out or cut back?

If you have made a realistic budget, you should be able to put aside money for savings every month as well as have money for emergencies. Determine who is going to handle which payments and be sure to put some money into a personal spending account for each of you so you aren't obligated to consult each other on every minor expense. However, always discuss significant purchases or investments. Revise your budget and investment plans if your family or job situation changes.

When discussing money, try to be business-like, not emotional. Avoid blaming and labeling � calling your spouse a tightwad or saying he spends money like a drunken sailor, for instance, is not conducive to cooperation.

Most important, no matter how tight money is, reserve a small amount for pleasure. Even if you go out once a week to a movie or for pizza, just the two of you, you'll feel better about your relationship in general if you indulge yourselves once and a while.