Money Conflict in Marriage / Relationships

There are a number of common issues that come up for people in their relationships / marriages – and a big one is money.  Attitudes and meanings attached to “money” differ and typically originate from family of origin experiences as it’s likely many of your ideas around spending, saving and other dealings with financial matters are echos from one or both of your parents and conditioning.

Relationships where there are big differences in how each partner views money have the potential to breed conflict and struggles around it.  If this resonates for you, it may be helpful for you and your partner to examine and identify what attitudes you have not only gain a better understanding of each other but take an honest look at it all with the hopes of figuring out a way to do things differently together.  Often times there are also connections between your attitudes about money to how you manage life and your extended relationships.

What role did money play for you?

According to Syble Solomon, the creator of MoneyHabitudes, a guide for professionals working with money related issues, there are six roles that money tends to play in people’s lives and for many, there are an overlap of several.  The following provides one way to think about the different money styles and meanings placed on money by people.

  • Security:  Money helps you feel safe and secure.
  • Status:  Money helps you create a positive image.
  • Selfless:  Money helps you feel good by giving to others.
  • Free Spirit:  Money is not a priority for your carefree lifestyle.
  • Targeted Goals:  Money helps you achieve your goals.
  • Spontaneous:  Money encourages you to enjoy the moment.

Did any of those jump out to you?  Do any leap out as describing your partner?  Remember that because these attitudes have roots elsewhere, it’s not about judging the positions but understanding them and the reflection they are of each of your negative and positive life experiences.  Often there are opposing perspectives which on the surface appear problematic but are actually seeking to balance each other!

Though money can be a primary source of conflict in marriage / relationships, you have a great opportunity to understand your partners beliefs, attitudes and feelings about money.  Rather than rigidly defend your position as being “right” and attack the other, enhance your relationship by understanding, validating and accepting  – then try to integrate them in a way that works on some level for you both.

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of with emotional and relationship health articles, guides, courses and other tools for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in,, and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers Emotional Health and Relationship Consultations via email, phone or video conference.

Add comment