Should couples be honest with each other about their finances?

According to The Institute of Divorce Financial Studies, financial problems contribute to 22% of all divorces making it the third leading cause of divorce. This is a problem many new couples face these days leading to a large number of couples opting for separation.

Many a times, men are usually blamed for being the ones who are not willing to talk about their finances to their spouses. They wouldn’t want to discuss money issues even when there is financial strain in the marriage because of the belief that they are the head of the family and can handle anything but most importantly money issues without their spouses help or advice. Majority of them are not even open to the idea of having a joint account and if they agree to it, they take 100% control of the money leaving the women with no choice.

The notion that women cannot make good decisions when it comes to money matters has led to a lot of problems in marriages in our society. This has led to women carefully avoiding discussing money with their men because it always leads to fights. The truth of the matter is you can’t have a successful relationship until you can communicate and agree about money.

Money is either the best or worst areas of communication in relationships. We need to understand that men and women are different. Most of the time, men tend to take risks and do not save for emergencies and most of the time they can struggle with self-esteem when there are financial problems. Women on the other hand, see money as a security issue and because of this; we tend to have a level of fear when there is a financial problem.

Men, however, insist that women spend money on irrelevant things which leads to their lack of trust in their spouse’s ways of handling money.

“I wouldn’t want my wife to handle our money or to even know how much money I make. Most of the time, ladies will spend a senseless amount of money on shoes, handbags, hairstyles and manicures and pedicures. These things are not even important. I would never let my woman know how much money I make or what I spend it on. Giving such information to a woman is like opening Pandora’s Box. All hell breaks loose and at the end of the month you won’t even have a shilling to yourself.” Says Adam.

It is quite normal for couples to argue over finances as we all have different forms of financial discipline

Women Empowerment
This is just a thought of many men out there when it comes to women and money. But with the times changing, these notions created by society have also started to gradually change. Women empowerment has led to many women rising and standing up for themselves in both relationships and marriages. Many women have risen up to big positions in the society which has led to insecurities in marriages.

The fact that women have risen to enviable positions has led to many marriages failing due to financial disagreements. Normally, in our African setting men are the heads of the house. They handle everything. So when the efforts of empowering women started paying off, this gave them the power to handle everything around homes, and manage both financial and non-financial issues it has led to some men being insecure in marriages.

Many men are afraid to talk about their finances to their partners who earn more money than they do. As a man, it crushes your ego to go and ask your wife for financial help when you need it because many women who earn more than their men are usually not very polite to their men. Some women are known to single handily manage all things that need financial attention in their homes. They pay the school fees or change their children’s schools and take them to more expensive and high-class schools without consulting their spouse.

Such issues are what create rifts in marriages. The man starts feeling disrespected in his own home. Not because there is any other problem, but simply because of money and because they both can’t agree on anything that concerns money because one makes more than the other.

Separating Finances
Keeping separate finances is a recipe for trouble in a marriage. Comparing yourselves to other couples is another recipe for trouble. Many women like comparing themselves to their friends who keep being treated by their spouses not keeping in mind that those men probably earn more than their husbands do. Maybe the man took a huge loan and is in debt and maybe he didn’t plan for this so he could be in financial crisis in a few weeks.

Accumulated Debt
But the main reason why couples keep their finances separate is because of debt. Maybe one party accrued a lot of debt before the marriage and the other party is not willing to help them pay. Many married couples forget that they are a team and when one loses, they both lose. Helping your partner or talking to them on how to manage their finances so as to pay the debts and still keep some money is mandatory.

Lack of discipline in spending
Keeping separate finances is also an excuse for couples to spend money on anything without being questioned. This leads to poor spending habits especially by women and it eventually creates a sense of distrust in men and makes them not involve their spouses in any financial decisions that need to be made.

The fear of what happens when the marriage fails is also a reason why couples keep separate finances. The question of who takes what percentage is also a factor. Many people are scared of giving up a large percentage of their money to their spouses during a separation because they claim they have worked so hard for everything and cannot just give up their money.

Finances & Communication
In order to make your relationship and money work, you should always talk about it. Just the same way you talk about every other issue. Make it a habit to talk about your financial habits and discipline especially when you are in a serious relationship. Be open and honest about what you like and do not like and what you think is a good investment and what is not.
Do not use money as a weapon against your partner. Some people use money as a weapon by withholding it from their partners in order to have control and others overspend to punish their partners.
Getting rid of your debts is the easiest way to financial freedom. Apart from the feeling of contentment, you will find that it is easier to spend money on the things you like. When you tackle each debt as a team, you can be able to clear your debts faster.

When it comes to money, you always need a plan. The plan needs to include a financial plan for your future and a plan for your immediate expenses. When you have a plan, both of you will have a say on how your money is spent every month.

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