Marriage Problems – How Couples Can Stop Fighting Over Money

Marriage Problems – How Couples Can Stop Fighting Over Money


By Dr. Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC

Part 2 of 2

A lot of couples fight. And a lot of their fights are about money. That’s because money is one of the most common topics for couples to have opposing viewpoints about.

Take Randy and Erin for example. Randy’s been getting more and more worried about the family’s finances. They’ve been overspending by a large amount every month. Yet Erin refuses to consider even the possibility of cutting any spending. Now their money fights are causing other marriage problems.

So how does Randy stop the fights with Erin, but at the same time still deal with their finances?

Here are 5 steps to stop fighting:

  1. He needs to take a step back, take a deep breath, and assess his stress level and emotions. For Randy this is critical, since in our in our anger management classes he’s learning to be aware of how powerfully and intimidating he can come across to others.
  2. Randy needs to watch the emotions – both his and Erin’s. Since he already struggles with managing his anger, it’s crucial that he be aware of his anger since this is a prime time for him to blow. He also needs to be aware that Erin is feeling something too, possibly fear, and that her stonewalling is probably a response more to that feeling than it is to his ideas.
  3. He needs to pick a day and time to talk to Erin when neither of them is already stressed or emotional — not exhausted, hungry, tired, or already angry. It can be tough for Randy to find what he thinks is the right moment, but he needs to be careful that this suggestion doesn’t lead to procrastination. He’s looking for a better time rather than worse time, not the perfect time.
  4. Randy needs to start the talk with Erin with a couple of compliments about her strengths and good qualities around money. For example, although she doesn’t want to cut spending, she also isn’t unaware of their financial circumstances. Randy then needs to ask Erin a few questions related to their finances and just listen.
  5. Finally, Randy needs to be on the lookout for any blaming or attacking by either he or Erin. If this occurs, he needs to end the talk and resume later. Interrupting the blame cycle is crucial for a lot of couples to move from fighting to conversing.

This is just a start, which is the most important part of communicationHow we start a conversation has a great impact on how it ends. The steps above don’t just work for money; they’re strategies that can work for any subject. Give them a try.

This is the second article of two examining a married couple struggling with money stress. Take a closer look at Randy and Erin’s marriage fights: Marriage and Money Stress – How to Stop Money Fights.  Sign up for our blog and be sure not to miss future articles.


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