Can’t stop bickering about money with your spouse? You’re not alone. According to a 2016 study by Ameriprise, about three in 10 couples disagree on finances at least once a month, mostly about major purchases or spending habits.
It’s no surprise that money is a touchy subject for many couples, especially when the budget gets tight or when you feel like you’re drowning in debt. While it’s common for money issues to arise even in the strongest marriages, there are some tell-tale signs when it might be time to seek counseling over financial problems. (See also: 8 Things I Learned About Money After Getting Married)
There’s financial infidelity
Even though your partner might not cheat on you with another individual, financial infidelity can cause just as much pain and mistrust. Financial infidelity is when one partner makes significant money decisions without consulting the other. If one spouse has taken out a secret credit card, opened up a secret bank account, hides purchases or statements, or if cash goes missing, then these are all red flags.
This is bigger than a mere budgeting issue. There’s a breach of trust and communication in your marriage, and it’s wise to seek out the help of a marriage counselor to get to the root of the problem, and remedy the issue. (See also: 4 Money Challenges That Will Strengthen Every Relationship)
You can’t stop arguing about money
That same Ameriprise study also found that the couples who fight over money admit to having other underlying issues. Perhaps one spouse is too uptight about the budget or goes off the handle for overspending or debt. Maybe one spouse feels too restricted and spends freely because they feel they have the right to do so.
Again, this is more than just a budget issue. There are internal struggles that both you and your spouse need to identify in yourselves and in each other. Perhaps one partner is constantly nagging about the budget because they grew up in poverty and debt. Maybe one partner spends recklessly because they don’t feel valued or appreciated. A marriage counselor can help you both look past the money issues to see if there are deeper problems at hand. And once the trigger is discovered, it’s easier to resolve the behaviors attached. (See also: How to Deal With a Partner Who Is Too Controlling With Money)
Your budget is affected by addiction
Addictions to gambling, shopping, drugs, or alcohol are serious issues and can also be major budget killers. If one spouse is fighting an addiction that impacts the finances, then it’s best to come to an agreement on how to protect your shared money. This might mean that the spouse battling addiction is taken off all financial accounts until they have sought out treatment and therapy.
Not only does the partner with the addiction need to seek out individual therapy, but a few sessions with a marital counselor can help mend broken communication and hurt feelings that resulted from the addiction. With the help of a marriage counselor, you can determine how to help your spouse on their journey to recovery.
There is a possibility of financial abuse
Does your spouse have full control of the finances and won’t let you have access to bank accounts or credit cards? Do you have to ask for an allowance or get permission to get a job in order to pay for your basic needs? There could be an issue with financial abuse, and if your spouse is willing to see a counselor, then let that be your first step. Perhaps your spouse is not fully aware that they are committing financial abuse, or that as a married couple, you have rights to all shared income.
Financial abuse is a serious issue, and it’s considered a form of domestic abuse. You can contact the National Network to End Domestic Violence and the National Domestic Abuse Hotline if you feel you are a victim of financial abuse. These sites also list additional forms of financial abuse to watch out for, as well as several resources for anyone who feels stuck in a marriage like this. (See also: 5 Painless Ways to Manage Money With Your Partner)