Fighting Fair: How to Disagree About Money in Marriage

Marriage can be hard enough some days. Throw money into the mix, and things can get downright ugly.  However, just as disagreements in other aspects of your married life don’t have to result in permanent rifts, disagreements over money don’t have to ruin your relationship.  As with all things in marriage, money issues need to be worked through. Here are some ideas for overcoming disagreements about money in marriage:

Know Thyself

One of the best things you can do is understand your relationship with money.  In order to articulate your position on money to your partner, you need to be able understand.  Think about why you spend (or save) money the way you do.  You should also come to grips with why you don’t like the way your spouse handles money, and determine whether or not your own preferences and money prejudices are coloring the situations.

Avoid Money Discussions When Angry

Don't let money be a sore point in your marriageBefore discussing money, make sure that you are both calm.  One way you can do this is to make an “appointment” to discuss money.  That way, you know to calm yourself beforehand.  Money discussions should take place when you are both as rested as possible (not after a long day of work) and when you are not hungry.  Try to find a comfortable location when discussing money, so that both of you are in a more forgiving frame of mind.

Listen to Your Partner

You and your spouse should take turns listening to each other’s ideas.  Listen without interrupting, except to ask clarifying questions.  Then, expect the same respect from your partner.  You should be able to explain your position as well.  If you both agree to listen respectfully, you will get a better idea of each other’s positions, and you will have something to work with when deciding what to do next.

Remember Your Big Picture Goals

Hopefully, you have some big picture goals as a couple.  When disagreeing about money, it is a good idea to pull out your shared goals for retirement, a vacation, kids’ college or your emergency fund.  Together, you can determine what actions will best help you reach your bigger shared financial goals.  Taking the time to re-connect to the commonalities you share will be a big help.

Let Each Person Control Some Money

You should each have control over some of the money.  This should be available for you to use how you want.  With separate spending abilities, it makes it possible for you buy what you want — even if your partner doesn’t agree.  Make it a rule that each spouse will respect what is done with the discretionary spending each has.

In some cases, the best idea is to have separate accounts if you have a hard time agreeing on what to do with money.  Make sure that each of you contributes to a central pot for household expenses, and then you can each have separate checking accounts.  However, even in such a setup, it is important to touch base and make sure you are still working toward shared money goals.

Be Willing to Compromise

Finally, you have to be willing to compromise.  Any relationship has some give and take, and you and your partner need to be ready to give up a little something.  With some thought and planning, it is possible to disagree about money without causing serious problems.

Free Newsletter to Keep you Free From Broke!Name: Email: We respect your email privacyPowered by AWeber email marketing
Published or updated December 11, 2014.


  1. Ahhh, it’s Valentine’s Day. And love is in the air all over the blogosphere.

    I just have one suggestion for your list–don’t assume you’re going to change your partner’s money habits. If you can’t accept each other as you are, you’re going to have a rough ride.

    • I think a big issue in many relationships is when one partner thinks they can change another – you can’t. A person has to want to change on their own.

      You do have to accept each other and love their strengths and flaws.

  2. Find someone with similar financial outlook. It’s much easier if you and your partner work toward the same goals. If you’re a saver, don’t marry a spend thrift. Like Pamela said above, it’s so difficult to change someone.

    • Great advice! Too many overlook this and then they’re surprised when things aren’t working financially.

      I also think that you don’t separate finances from your life. Everything in integrated.

  3. Another issue is that you need to consider differences in priorities. Last night, as I struggled to follow my own advice, I realized that the disagreements with my husband don’t stem around spending vs. saving. He likes things and I like experiences. Those differences can cause problems as well.

    • Knowing that you have those differences is a big step in being able to talk about how you want to spend your money, I’m sure!

  4. Good points Miranda.
    I feel both being calm is extremely important. We need to remember that once you say something, you can’t take it back.

    • So true! When things get heated it’s a good idea to take a deep breath and get yourself to relax.

      I think in the heat of the argument we sometimes forget the discussion at the moment and bring in past arguments which makes things snowball.

  5. I would add seek council from older couples that you respect and admire their financial habits. You can always learn something from them.

    • Good advice Jenna. Speaking to couple you respect can also fill you in that yes, couples argue about money from time to time and it’s OK to disagree. Knowing that others go through the same is reassuring sometimes.

  6. Interesting that we both wrote about the same thing today. Want to fight about who’s financial fight advice is better? 🙂 Great point about not talking about money when you’re angry. I couldn’t agree more.

    • 🙂 I noticed that. Although, I did write the post earlier. It’s just taken until now for it to be published on the site — just in time for V-day, of course.

    • When you’re angry it’s hard to really get a point across and listen to another person.

  7. Money, children, religion etc. should be discussed while dating to make sure there is enough agreement or suffer the consequences!

    • Why is it that finances are a seemingly forbidden subject yet two people dating will talk about everything else?!?

      I agree that once things get serious, two people need to make sure they are on the same page financially and understand what each other’s goals are.

  8. Scott Leonard says:

    Well done and spot on!
    I would normally say Patience, Listening, Forgiveness, and Love.
    Life will bring good and bad times, good and bad financial moves.
    Take a deep breath. See the bigger picture.. you are together, in good or relatively good health, you have the ability to Love and be Loved.
    Money will come and go.
    Love… hold on to it. Don’t let it go, or damage it, over money.
    Scott H Leonard

  9. As someone who is divorced, I’d second what Retirebyforty says about “Find someone with similar financial outlook. It’s much easier if you and your partner work toward the same goals. If you’re a saver, don’t marry a spend thrift.”
    If I’d gone shopping with my ex before I married him, I’d have realised how different our attitudes were to money. He wanted the crystal wine glasses that were £40 each so he could show off to our friends at dinner parties. I spent the entire party worrying about the glasses getting broken (and one did – the first time we used it!) and wished we had glasses from Ikea.
    I don’t think money or possessions are particularly important in life but having a similar value system to your partner is.

    • You know, maybe a trip to the mall should be a serious stepping stone for a couple?

      Seriously, money is such is common factor in divorce. As important as it is, people don’t talk about it enough.

What Do You Think?