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Money Can Be an Emotional Issue

Mary and Joe always fought about money. Mary tried to save every penny that she could. She would spend many hours clipping coupons for the grocery store each week, and she would never order dessert or beverages at a restaurant. Mary grew up in a household where there was never enough money, and now she wanted as much money in the bank as possible. Joe, on the other hand, loved to eat lunch out several times a week, including dessert and coffee. The freedom to eat out meant a lot to him, and not being able to do so would cause him to feel resentful. Joe grew up in a solid middle-class household that had enough money for extra activities. Before Mary and Joe can sit down to do a household budget they can both live with, they need to understand their emotions about money.

The same is true for you and your spouse. When you sit down with your spouse to do your household budget, keep in mind that money issues can become emotional very quickly. Disagreements about money are often not about money, but about something else, such as power and control.

Soul Mates

When you and your spouse are having a disagreement about money, take a moment to understand your emotions and explain them to your partner. He or she will probably be more receptive to your point of view.

Think Twice

Don't let managing your finances become a back-burner project. So many couples let petty annoyances fester until they become major problems. Take the time now to make a financial plan with your spouse.

Realistic Expectations

We all grew up with expectations about our adult life. We had ideas about what kind of house we wanted, where we wanted to travel, and how much we wanted to work. Sometimes, we are lucky and most of our financial expectations are met. But many people's expectations far exceed their financial assets, and they become frustrated when they cannot have what they have always wanted.

There are so many reasons why your financial situation might be different than the two of you expected. One of you might have been laid off, a business might have failed, or you might have made a bad investment. Perhaps you had visions of marrying a millionaire, and instead fell in love with a pauper. It's so easy to blame our spouse or ourselves and constantly wish that there were more money in the household. But, unless you can realistically change your financial situation, you need to face up to your expectations for what they are—expectations, not reality. The sooner you learn to be content with what you have, the sooner you will find true happiness.

Take this quiz to find out if your monetary expectations are realistic.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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