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Is Money Keeping You In A Bad Relationship?

This past week-end, my partner and I had another heated argument about my kids. I guess when they are yours, you don’t get as annoyed with the little things, but when they are not; YOU DO! This blended family thing is a lot tougher than I expected! Anyway, I was pretty upset so I grabbed my iPod and my dog (always take the dog, it adds purpose!), and went for a loooong walk to try to clear my mind. As I was thinking about my current situation, I wandered off to the land of “what if this is not meant to be”? What if we call it quits and go our separate ways or give up on the blended family thing while my kids still live with me? It’s tough enough to be the only parent, I don’t need the extra aggravation.  And then it dawned on me. Wow! Am I ever “lucky” I  have the choice! Being financially independent is allowing me to consider all options in my life. But how many people out there don’t have that option, how many don’t have a clue about their family finances? Is money keeping you in a bad relationship?

Your Spouse Controls The Money And You Are Left In The Dark!

Often, in a relationship, one spouse will handle the family finances, it may make it easier to keep track of all bills and payment. But it doesn’t mean the other one should be left in the dark. Maybe you don’t care or maybe you don’t understand anything finance related so you are just happy your spouse is doing it all. Maybe your partner is controlling and doesn’t like to share that information with you and, so far, you were fine with it. But what if your relationship starts falling apart, what if you decide it’s time to move on? What are your options then if you have no clue what is going on with your family finances? Hopefully you are not in this situation but if you are, you probably should:

  • Start getting involved. Sit down regularly with your spouse to go over everything money. How much do you bring in as a family? Where is the money going? Where is the money invested? Are all accounts joints or only under your spouse’s name. How about your house, your car? Make sure you understand everything.
  • Start building or improving your credit score. Apply for your own credit card if you don’t have one already, even if you only use it once in a while.
  • Open your own saving’s account, even if you only deposit a little at a time.
  • EDUCATE YOURSELF! Learn the basics about money management. There are so many free resources out there: Public libraries have tons of books on personal finance, Personal Finance blogs, even the Canadian Government has a site about Money and Finances. You can check out their Financial Literacy Programs which include a Financial Toolkit and a Financial Basics Workshop (not all Canada specific).

The last thing you want to do is to be stuck in a bad relationship because of MONEY!

You Control The Money And It’s All YOURS!

A few years ago, I had a colleague who would always complain about his wife. He was in late 50’s getting ready to retire. I don’t know exactly how much his net worth was but probably over 1 million, he was also eligible for a government pension (from previous employment there) and CPP (Canada Pension Plan). Once in a while I would  ask him: if you are so unhappy, why don’t you leave her ? His answer was always the same: I would have to give her half my money!! Wow really! He was so worried about his net worth that he chose a life of misery with more money over a happy life with half of it . And was it HIS money anyway? His wife stayed at home most of her life to raise their three kids! My only advice for those of you who feel this way about money and your relationship:

Life is too short,  split the money and go enjoy what life has to offer!

You Both Agree You Can’t Afford To Go Your Separate Ways!

It could be for several reasons; Not enough income, one wants to keep the family home, too many debts,  whatever the reason is: you think you can’t afford to go your separate ways. Add kids to the mix and it seems easier to just stay together. It’s a tough decision. What can you do?

Some couples decide to stay under the same roof with separate quarters but I can’t imagine that would be easy. I heard of others who keep the family home (if they have kids) and rent/buy a small condo somewhere close by. Then the parents take turn staying with the kids in the family home. Wow! Talk about family commitment! But not really good if you want to move on!

So What Are Your Options?

  • Go through your expenses with a fine tooth comb and eliminate all the fat. You may have a lot more of it than you think. Are your expenses needs or wants? Wants have to go!
  • Downgrade your house. I know it’s tough but the best decision may be to sell the family home, yes the one where you kids grew up and where you created all those fond memories. You will make new ones somewhere else and your kids will get over it.
  • Start putting money aside regularly in separate accounts, assuming you only had joint accounts.
  • Take a mature approach to your situation and try to come up with a solution together. One that will take care of the money but also allow you to move on. Sharing a house with your ex is not going to do that!

Money shouldn’t hold you back! Life is too short!

How Do I Manage Money In My Relationship?

My partner and I, because we met later in life and don’t have kids together, keep all of our finances separate, except for the house expenses.  What’s his is his, what’s mine is mine ! It doesn’t have to be that way but it was the right decision for us. It is hard to blend all your money when you meet someone later in life and are already financially independent. You want to be very careful with your decisions and protect what you have worked so hard for.

Love is wonderful but it doesn’t always last forever. People change! (But some do live happily ever after)

I am not saying once the money problem goes away you should “jump ship” as soon as things get off track in your relationship. Building a strong relationship does require some work (sometimes a lot!) . But at least if you are not successful in fixing your relationship, going your separate ways becomes a viable option.

How about you, did money ever keep you in a bad relationship? How do you manage your family finances to make sure money never becomes an issue?

22 thoughts on “Is Money Keeping You In A Bad Relationship?

  1. Woah, the middle antidote caught me off guard. To be honest, I totally see myself doing that. I would stick with someone I wasn’t 100% into if it meant not having my net worth halved. It doesn’t make sense and it’s stupid but it’ll take me 10 years to come around.

    Our marriage is pretty good right now *knock on wood* but I don’t want to be caught without my own bank account or retirement plan. You never know down the road. It’s better to be prepared than broke.

    Money is a big deal in every aspect of life. I hate that money is seen as a secondary feature after chemistry. Love is one of those things that grow over time. Chemistry is for teenagers. (I’m not a romantic, I’m overly practical is what my husband tells me.)

    When my husband is mad at me, he goes for a long walk too. Afterwards, we regroup and make up. It’s not fun to fight but it’s worst bottling it up. I don’t entertain the thought that we won’t make up, because we always do.

    1. Lol, really the middle??? Oh come on Lily you know better, life is not just about having loads of money, you need to enjoy it too:) And yes money is a big deal in every aspect of life, and lots of spouses no nothing about their own finances and that is sad. Hope we can help them:)

  2. Gosh, this is getting pretty introspective for me Caroline. I’m lucky that my wife and I get along well. I took over the finances after we got married because that’s what I do. As a former CFO, I don’t turn over the finances to anybody else. She didn’t like it at first, but now has no issue. The problem with letting her do it back in the day was, she would manage the finances once or twice a year and did a decent job, BUT I manage the finances on a daily basis. Anyway, thank goodness it works for us.

    My wife just told me yesterday her 69 year old female cousin asked for a divorce after a long marriage and one child together. Life just throws curve balls all the time as you know.

    Anyway, I wish you and your partner many happy years if that is what you both want. And, I think I’m ready for a good landlord post!

    Tom

    1. You are always ready for a good landlord post! Glad it is working out for you guys, I am assuming your wife does know what is going on with your finances even if you take care of it? As far as her cousin, it is so common! One day everything is awesome (for many many years), the next they are getting a divorce and fighting about everything! Do you really manage the finances daily??

  3. You are completely correct that partners/spouses who share any sort of income, assets, debts need to at least be aware of the overall financial picture and have access to the funds. Apparently it is not uncommon in domestic abuse situations for money to also be used as a form of control. With all that said…I also agree that no one typically shares the compassion for a child’s missteps like their own parent. Sometimes it helps to see your child’s behavior through someone else’s eyes, and sometimes you just want them to shut up and mind their own dang business! Ha!

  4. Caroline,

    I totally agree: don’t be left in the dark while the spouse is managing the money. Get involved in the family finance, as it’s a good thing. Anything could happen, and make sure you have the knowledge and skills to do whatever necessary to protect yourself and loved ones.

  5. Awe I’m sorry that you had an argument with your partner about your children. It must be very difficult being in a new blended family! I agree, you are very lucky that you are financially independent and have the option to leave it necessary. I think it is so important. If I had a daughter, that is what I would teach her. So many women do not have that option because they have no money.

    I’m not sure what the cohabitation agreements are in Ontario, in B.C. if you live together for more than 2 years you are entitled to division of assets (appreciated assets) just like marriage. That’s why when people say “we have our finances separate” in BC anyway, it doesn’t mean anything. People can become very angry and irrational when they are hurt, even arguing over AEROPLAN points! (true story, my husband’s colleague is going through divorce proceedings with his ex wife who is pissed about Air miles or Aeroplan points or something like that).

    1. Air Miles eh? I know it can get pretty nasty! In Ontario, I think it is after one year but you can sign an agreement before moving in together to make sure your finances stay separate (no division of assets). You know just in case…

  6. Hi Caroline!

    Wow, I wasn’t expecting a post like this one. It totally caught me off guard, but it’s really great information to know.

    I’ll admit that this is something my fiance and I don’t think about. We trust each other so much that we combine all our finances as one. I mean, we split stuff like house and rental property, but we track all of our money together. What’s mine is his, and what’s his is mine… Also, when we go out, he would usually pay for our dinners and lunches. I will pay for utilities, but there’s really no set rule as to who pays for what because we just treat it as one.

    I know that most people won’t agree to this, but we live by this philosophy. Now that I read your post, it does scare me a bit… really knocking on wood!! Yikes…………. >.<

    With all that said, I really wish you and your partner the best! No matter what, you only live once! Love life and embrace it 🙂

    1. Nothing wrong with what you are doing as long as you both know what’s going on with your finances; communication is key!
      My husband and I always had three accounts, the “house” one and then each our own. It worked great:)

  7. What an insightful post. While I handle most of the finances for our family, my husband and I do have our own separate accounts for “fun money.” Even within a stable relationship, it’s really cut out the money arguments because we don’t have a say on how the other spends their discretionary income. Granted, this works only because we make similar amounts of income, and when we didn’t, the breadwinner covered most of the joint costs. I can imagine it creates a huge power imbalance when one person controls it all – even more so when the other doesn’t contribute financially (though obviously they do in other less tangible ways).

    1. I couldn’t agree more! My husband and I did the same, and adjusted our contribution to our house account when needed. Having that “fun” account really made a difference, we could each do whatever we wanted with it. Now it was never huge amounts, sometimes there was nothing!

  8. In our house, I am the money manager. My wife and I have been together since college. I think we both understand our economics well and she could take over any time.

    Money is only a tool. When it keeps you in bad relationships or stops you from living, it becomes valueless.

  9. This post works for professional relationships as well as personal ones. I’m currently in a situation where I may need to take a pay cut to get out of a toxic work situation. Luckily, I am comfortable enough with my financial situation that I actually have a choice about whether or not I want to stay. While I agree having money doesn’t cure everything (if you are unhappy now, getting a boatload of money will only make you more of what you already are), it sure does help with certain difficult circumstances.

    1. 100 % with you on that one. I am losing my job in the next year or so and it is definitely not as stressful because of my financial situation…but still stressful!

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