Research has shown that money is the most common cause of conflict in both newlyweds and in couples who had been married a few years. Additionally, this finding holds true for both African-American and Caucasian couples, and for both husbands and wives. When you consider all the other things there are to disagree about--children, in-laws and how leisure time is spent--that's a pretty serious statement about the impact of money.
In a precarious financial situation like the one many people in the United States and around the world currently face, money stress can affect relationships in many ways. While the obvious causes of a family's financial crisis may seem global and impersonal (the mortgage meltdown or related bank and stock market fallout, for example), the money crisis may bring up pre-existing arguments between the spouse who saves and the spouse who spends, or put more stress into disagreements about how money is spent. Financial stress can also lead to unhealthy coping behaviors like excessive drinking or, ironically, compulsive spending, which can lead to more conflict in a relationship. Many couples will be brought closer by the financial stress they face, but many others will be driven further apart at a time when they need to work together and rely on one another's support.
What's a couple to do? Here are some ideas on how to weather tough economic times and have the necessary discussions about money without having a knock-down, drag-out with your partner.
- The Toll of Conflict in Relationships
- Healthy Communication Strategies
- What's Your Conflict-Resolution Style?
Oggins J. Topics of marital disagreement among African-American and Euro-American newlyweds. Psychological Reports, April 2003.
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