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How to Help the Number One Reason For Divorce

Updated on October 4, 2018
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I am a marriage and family therapist with a master's degree in marriage and family therapy.

The Number One Reason for Divorce!

What is the number one reasons for divorce in this country today? There are many reasons for relationship or marital issues, but the top reason for divorce are money fights and money problems. The tool that we need to survive that is so personal to us becomes a deciding factor of a marriage’s survival. The money fights or money problems can cause a relationship strain, stress, distancing, and damage over periods of time. The money problems lead to so many other symptoms that spiral out of control as the couple continues to drift from each other. There is pain and hurt that results from the stress of finances. When couples get on the same page together in terms of their finances, they are able to prevent many other problems and symptoms that come because of money problems. I will list simple yet disciplined behaviors you and your spouse will need to work on together in order to get a hold of your finances. Doing these things together will help you decrease stress in your lives, and help you to become closer emotionally and mentally.


First, you and your spouse need to decide together that you will work on your finances together. This decision means you are both all in and committed to making this change. You almost need to be “sick and tired” of the financial situation that you are in, there needs to be a “I’ve had it!” moment together. When you are both all in on this decision together, you can start to make a plan to change your finances to the way you want them.

Changing your finances means you get to dream together, and this can bring some nice unity between you two. Make changes to your finances by making goals together of what you want to do in your life. Do you want to travel more? Do you want to give more to people you love, your church, or charity? Do you want a bigger home or nicer car? All of these require money, and changing your finances can help you get there. Write your goals down together in your home, put them up on a big white board so you can see and read them together every day. The more you write and read your goals, the more likely you will be to reach them. Having these goals will motivate you more to change your finances and strengthen your relationship.

Are You the Saver or Spender?

In most relationships, one spouse is the spender and one is the saver of the relationship or marriage. Meaning, one of you is more likely to spend money and one is more likely to save. These differences can often cause strain and arguments when the couple is not on the same page with their finances. For the spender, it makes sense to spend money because that is the purpose of money. This person likes buying things or going to the latest event or fun thing happening. This behavior may be stressful and upsetting to the other partner who is the saver. The saver likes to keep money in the account, for “just in case” or “emergency” scenarios. The rationale of this saver is that “a rainy day may happen, and we need savings to help pay for it when it does happen”. The saving behaviors may be frustrating to the spender because he/she wants to spend money, not just “hold on to it”.

The discipline here is that you two need to communicate together and be on the same page on what is happening with your finances. Talk to each other about the spending habits that are happening, how often it is happening and on what you are buying. Also talk about the importance of saving, tell your partner how important saving is to you and why. Explain the reasoning of your behaviors and why it is important to you to help get your partner on the same page with you. This starts the communication of your finances to help you work better as a team and as a result can help strengthen your relationship.


A part of that communication is creating, and sticking to, a budget together. A budget is a simple task that you two can create on a pad of paper, on an excel document, or write down anywhere as long as you keep it close an accessible. This takes discipline and cooperation for the both of you; here is what you do:

Write down your take home, household income together at the top of the page. Below that write down every expense, bill, and debt you pay every month. Write down the mortgage/rent, utilities, gas, groceries, cable/internet, car payments, student loan payments, etc. At the bottom of your list, subtract your income and your monthly expenses and see if you have money left over or if you are in the red. This will give you a visual of your monthly expenses and can give you a sigh of relief just to see in writing what your finances look like each month.

Writing a budget may surprise you because you may find monthly expenses that you did not know were there. You may find that you pay for subscriptions or gym memberships that you are not using anymore. Finding these surprises could help save you money each month. I am not suggesting to penny pinch and cut all fun things in your lives, but just to be aware of your income verses your outflow and be in total control. These actions help you both to be in full control of your finances, and as a result can help bring you closer together as a couple.

"If you live like no one else, later you can LIVE and GIVE like no one else."

-Dave Ramsey

Decide What You Will Do Next.

If you find that you are in financial stress or struggle after making your budget, you can take another step forward together to resolve this issue. A large percentage of U.S households live paycheck to paycheck and are in significant debt. Fortunately there are disciplined actions you both can take to get ahead together.

First, you both can aggressively pay off debt. Debt can be a killer that strains you month to month. These monthly payments can prevent you from paying other bills, doing fun things together as a couple, or going on vacations. When you don’t owe anyone any money (debt), then you are free to use that money for yourself. Take control of your finances, keep your money, and decrease your stress in life together.

Also, you can increase your income to make more money. Is only one of you working? Are you able to move up in your job? Perhaps you can learn new skills that are more needed or desired in the market place. Increasing your income can buy you more freedom, more choices in life, and less stress. Stress and strain are the killers with financial struggle, and getting rid of that in life can help your relationship overall.

Final Thoughts.

Lots of things in life cost money, and that can be a big barrier in any relationship. Keeping close communication about your finances will help put you on the same page and can also help you to improve your financial situation together. These actions will help you work together as a couple, and not let money drive you apart as it does for many couples. Last, you can do fun things together that do not cost money. Go take a walk, walk downtown or on the beach, go jogging together, or look at neighborhoods that give you ideas of your dream home together. Dream and plan for the future together, and this will inevitably draw you closer together. Strengthen your relationship without having to spend a lot of money, all while you improve your finances together. Money is a huge topic, but ultimately its about improving and strengthening your relationship.


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