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Myths - Money is the Number One Cause of Divorce

According to a Citibank survey, 57% of divorced couples cited money problems as the primary reason for the demise of their marriage.  Isn't it interesting that a financial institution published this survey?  Research by Jan Andersen, Associate Professor at CSU Sacramento, cited other factors such as incompatibility, lack of emotional support, abuse, and sexual problems as ranking higher than money problems. 

Money is a problem in many marriages.  Yet, as we discussed in the educational series, usually the first answer to the problem is just an excuse and not the real issue.  You need to peel back the onion and find the real reason for divorce.  So what are the potential issues that manifest as money problems? 

  • Communication around money
  • Power struggle over who controls the money 
  • Sabotage by spending money outside the budget by the one who feels that he/she has no power
  • Lack of self-worth around having a low net worth
  • Fear of not having enough

The list can go on and on.  As you see, money can bring up a lot of different issues.  It is not money itself that is the problem, but how we use money or see ourselves in regards to money.  For example, in our society (until recently), we believed that men should be the financial providers and women should support their men.  Before anyone calls me a sexist, all my brothers and I have stayed home to raise our children for at least part of the time while our wives were the primary wage earners. What I have found in my experience so far is the importance our society places on work and money.  When my wife and I were looking for a house, I wanted to provide my family with a luxurious home.  We ultimately decided on a nice home that we could comfortably afford (a little smaller than what I was originally looking for).  For a few days, I was thinking about how we could afford the home of our dreams if I was only still working at my old job or got my new business going before now.  It affected my self-esteem and self-worth.  I finally realized that I linked my net worth with my self-worth.  So it was less about the money and more about how I felt about myself as a provider of our family.  I had to shift from seeing myself as a financial supporter to a emotional supporter in raising my son and supporting my wife.  This luckily has not affect the long-term success of my marriage.  Yet, short-term it affected our communication because I was depressed.  If this had continued, it would have affected our marriage.  The simple reason would have been money, yet the underlying reason was my sense of self-worth.

So before you blame money as the source of the problems in your marriage, look at the underlying issues causing the money problems.  One key may be to have better communication about your feelings.  Instead of fighting about money, state how you feel about how your partner handles money. 

Also look at how you were both using money.  Are either one of you spending money to solve an emotional issue or using money as a way to exert power?  If so, then tackle the underlying reason and not blame it all on money.

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