10 Painful Ways in Which Money Can Ruin Your Marriage

money can ruin your marriage
Written by Oana Schneider

Perhaps one of the most common statistics that you’ll ever hear is how almost half of marriages end in divorce. If there’s a 50% chance that you’ll file for a divorce, anyway, why do couples still say their “I dos”? Maybe it’s the romantic streak in us that makes couples – especially women – believe that they will live happily ever after with their other half.

But no matter what your belief is entering into a marriage, you naturally want it to work out in the end. It pays to be aware of what the possible conflicts are beforehand so that you can prepare yourself to work on them with your spouse. Find out more about how money can ruin your marriage and prevent them!

If almost half of marriages end in divorce, it’s good to be aware of what the risk factors are, including the following:

  • Marrying at a young age.
  • One or both spouses having insufficient income.
  • One or both spouses not having completed college education.
  • Premarital cohabitation.
  • Premarital childbearing and pregnancy.
  • No religious affiliations.
  • Parents’ divorce.

This is according to a study conducted by the University of Utah in the US. The list does not yet include other reasons for divorce like abuse, infidelity, addictions, lack of commitment, too much arguing, unrealistic expectations, lack of equality and not being prepared for marriage in the first place. In another survey published by the Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, it shows that 39% of respondents listed money as a primary issue in marital conflicts, while 54% listed it as a secondary issue.

Here, we will focus our attention on how money can ruin your marriage. In the Economix blog of The New York Times, a chart shows the association between financial disagreements and divorce. The more frequent the financial disagreements are (less than once a month, several times per month, once a week, several times per week, almost everyday), the more likely the marriage will end in divorce.

Interestingly enough, the chart also shows that for the women, finances and sex-related problems were a good indicator of a possible divorce. For men, financial disagreements are the only factor when asked whether they are most likely to get a divorce or not. 

money can ruin your marriage

Not Having Enough Money Could Damage Your Marriage.

10 Painful Ways In Which Money Can Ruin Your Marriage

Of course, no one wants to enter a marriage already thinking about getting a divorce – but it is very likely to happen. If you don’t want your money being a major cause of conflict between you and your spouse, it pays to be aware of how money can ruin your marriage.

Take a look at our top ten list on the most painful ways that money can ruin your marriage:

1. Not talking about your finances enough can lead to early marital problems.

Not being open with your spouse about your finances is a sure fire way of introducing conflict into the marriage. This is especially true for couples who marry young, and are still establishing themselves financially while already raising a family. What you can do as a couple to prevent this from ruining your marriage is to come up with a system that works for you.

Let’s say that you decided to combine your income and set up a budget for the family. You can give each other freedom to make your own purchases but for big ticket items that reach $500, for example, the decision to buy needs to be mutual. Go for a system that works for you both, sit down and make time to discuss such decisions. You’ll thank yourselves for this later on. Read on for more ways in which money can ruin your marriage!

2. If one of you thinks that money can buy love, it can lead to bigger conflicts later on.

Erring husbands who have enough money might think that buying their wives a diamond ring or a luxury car will bring about domestic peace. Although there are instances when material presents do work in easing the tension, it does not really resolve things. This is especially true if one spouse puts more value on money over the other. It doesn’t even matter how much money a couple has. Even those who are not better off financially might find their marriage being ruined by money because of the materialistic tendencies of one or both partners.

3. Conflicting money management habits may lead to arguments.

money can ruin your marriage

Always Invest Your Money Wisely!

A good way in which money can ruin your marriage is to always want to be in control, financially speaking. If the husband is a wise spender while the wife is an impulsive shopper, it can lead to a lot of money-related arguments. If you know that your spouse has an opposite attitude towards money than you, have some serious talk about how you should both manage your finances. This is the best way to avoid conflicts later on.

4. Money can cause you to disagree about how the money should be divided.

There are couples who decide to have joint accounts while others like to have their earnings separate. There’s really no right or wrong way to divide your money in a marriage: do whatever works for you. Just remember that conflicts can arise if one spouse is earning or spending more than the other.

If it reaches a point that the husband questions each and every item that the wife buys, it might blow up into a huge money-related argument. Again, the best way to resolve this is to come up with a system or better yet, simply merge your accounts and make a monthly budget that both spouses should stick to.

5. Any debt brought into the marriage by either spouse may cause resentment on the other.

Young couples might be carrying over student loans, credit card bills and other debts onto the marriage. This might be an uncomfortable issue to talk about early on in the marriage, but it is a must – especially if you don’t want your spouse to carry resentment over the debts that you brought on into the marriage. Be open about what your financial status is when you were still single, then work around the debts which you would now have to pay as a family.

6. Taking on too much debt will result to marital conflicts.

Those who are married for a long time have a tendency to hide purchases or debts from their spouse. Men are more likely to cover up their spending, and this is bound to be discovered by the wife at one point or another. If you don’t want debts or secret purchases to ruin your marriage, be as honest to your spouse as possible.

7. Lending or borrowing money from family members can become a big issue between spouses.

If you need to borrow money as a couple from your in-laws, proceed with caution. The same thing holds true for lending money to family members. If it’s something that you cannot avoid, make sure to draft a legal document to make sure that the debts will be repaid. If you’re the one who is in debt, it’s also a good idea to put a halt to making luxury purchases while the debt is still unpaid.

8. One spouse earning more than the other may cause resentment towards the lower-earning partner.

For most couples, money is still a taboo subject but it is something that you have to talk about if you don’t want finance-related arguments about how money can ruin your marriage. Let’s say that one spouse is earning more than the other. The lesser-earning spouse may harbor resentment towards the other – especially if he or she is contributing more to household expenses.

money can ruin your marriage

Always Talk to Your Spouse About Investing Your Money!

If your budgeting system is to combine the income of both spouses, who’s earning more should not be an issue in the first place. Just make sure that the bigger earner makes the spouse understand that it just happened that way, and that your incomes should be considered as one now that you’re a married couple. Don’t ruin your marriage for little things like this!

9. If you don’t recognize that money matters emotionally affect your marriage, your relationship could be in trouble.

Studies show that men take money-related issues more seriously than women. This is especially true if the woman is the one with the higher earning, or a bigger contribution to the household budget. Beforehand, simply recognize that money-related issues do have an emotional effect towards your spouse. Again, having the money talk where you both sit down and lay out your finances will prevent confusion and conflicts from ensuing.

10. Not enjoying your money together can lead to bigger marital problems.

Finally, if you deny yourself the pleasure of enjoying the money that you earned together, it can lead to bigger marital problems later on. Just like when you were single, you should take the time to plan what you’re going to do with your earnings – no matter how big or small the amount is. Take the time to enjoy an out-of-town or out-of-the-country trip as a family or as a couple. This will strengthen your bond even more and allow you to manage your budget while you’re away from home.

When managed properly, money should be a source of pleasure rather than a cause of conflict. Use it to travel or pay for experiences that you can all enjoy as a family, instead of allowing your finances to get in the way of the growth of your relationship. Don’t let anything or anyone interfere in your relationship and make sure you’re aware of these ways in which money can ruin your marriage!

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.


  • It’s important for married couples to realize that having separate personal bank accounts is the way to go. Short of a prenup, this arrangement sets the tone of being self-sufficient while still living together. It also gives you and your spouse a feeling of freedom with regards to money matters.

    • I completely agree with you. Having separate bank accounts really help both people in the relationship feel like they have more freedom in the relationship. Even though once in the while, you start to feel a little nosy about your significant other, I feel like it’s better off like that.

    • I think I’d rather have a prenup on top of the separate bank accounts. A joint account is fine as long as both individuals have control over it, and approval is required from both to make major withdrawls. I always have a separate account of my own in a relationship, though, because that simple makes sense no matter how you look at it.

  • This post really hit home for me. One of my biggest issues in my own relationship is debt bought on by me and then my boyfriend going and getting a car which now caused him debt. So here we are hardly getting by and both swamped in debt. This along with petty arguments causes issues too.

    • Debt can ruin relationships, even the strongest relationships. There’s no doubting that, and I’ve had similar situations occur in my life, too, so I know exactly what you’re saying. More debt can only do harm, unfortunately, although two strong individuals can overcome the burden of debt eventually.

  • Finances probably ruin a dozen marriages every single day, and it’s been like that for decades now. People are either terrible with their finances or lie about their finances, and that puts immense strain on relationships. Likewise, one financially secure partner and then one insecure partner as far as finances are concerned can spell disaster.

  • Being open and honest about your finances is always absolutely necessary, yet it is something that a lot of people just don’t bother doing, which is a shame. If you think about it, money really does make the world go round, so if you’re in a partnership with somebody else, you have to be able to agree with how you deal with your money. I would always make sure that I had my own bank account as well as my joint one, as this means that I would have the freedom to treat myself as well as being able to pay for everything that needs to be done in the home with relation to the building and the bills and suchlike. Money doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it does need to be talked about.

  • Unfortunately, we all love our independence and having someone barge in it it’s sometimes frustrating. Especially when you want to purchase something but have to think about the big picture. Also, maybe you’re a thrifty person, but your spouse doesn’t share the same ideas. In the end, we all have to compromise…

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