When a husband thinks his wife spends too much money, whether it’s reality or perception, financial and marriage problems follow.
A new multi-state study looked at contrasting financial personalities in a marriage. The personalities are divided into tightwads and spenders.
What shaped these personalities in marriage wasn’t concrete attributes the individuals displayed or even the circumstances they were in. Rather, it was the perception about how spendy the other spouse was.
The fact that spouses’ perceptions of each other’s spending behaviors were so predictive of financial conflict suggests that when it comes to the impact of finances on relationships, perceptions may be just as important, if not more important, than reality.
For husbands, having a wife who they saw as a spender was the highest contributor to financial conflict. For wives, having a husband who viewed them as a spender was the highest contributor to financial conflict. This was seen for couples with high incomes and low incomes as well as with couples who spent a lot and those who did not spend much at all. The views were completely relative to perception.
Couples need to communicate about finances, especially early in marriage. Don’t think that financial problems will magically go away when circumstances change. The study showed that circumstances weren’t the issue here, perception was, and perception doesn’t always change when circumstances do.
Secondarily to the perception of a spendy wife, men see having more children as impacting financial conflict, and women think a lack of financial communication overall as impacting financial conflict.
Of those who participated in the study conducted by researchers at BYU and Kansas State University, 90 percent of women and 85 percent of men reported that they experienced some kind of financial worries.
But no matter what the perceptions or realities are exactly, if finances are causing problems in a marriage, help is possible.
The good news is that couples can benefit from clinical help, whether that be a financial planner or a marriage and family therapist.
There are also a host of resources available online, paid and free, to assist in budgeting and money management.