Money fights lead to divorce

Sit down with your spouse and review your finances, including your monthly budget, to save for the future while enjoying the present.
Sit down with your spouse and review your finances, including your monthly budget, to save for the future while enjoying the present.
Image: 123RF

Many couples squabble over money from time to time - some more often than others - and in some cases, until they divorce.

Various statistics show money as the cause for up to half of all divorce cases and some financial advisers say arguments about money are a top predictor of divorce.

The stress that accompanies financial problems can overwhelm a couple, said Charles Pitt, private client wealth manager at Alexander Forbes Wealth.

"Household spending and budgeting is one of those responsibilities that's best tackled together," Pitt said.

As a couple, if you want to agree on household spending and budgets, the number one thing to do is to have an open and honest discussion about financial affairs in the home, he said.

Pitt advised that you sit down with your spouse and review your finances, including your monthly budget.

He suggested that, as a couple, you find compromises that will allow you to save for the future while still enjoying the present.

Sounds easier said than done?

Yes, because apparently, generally men are reluctant to discuss their finances with their spouses because of old stereotypes.

"It is worrying to still see the stereotype persisting whereby men are expected to take care of financial responsibilities and women to look after their family, remaining in the dark about the real state of their financial affairs and often being left to try and pick up the pieces at a later stage," said Anelisa Mti, advisory partner at Citadel.

She said, often, when financial squabbles do lead to divorce, or the husband dies, women find themselves suddenly needing to gather together the threads of their finances.

This can be extremely difficult if you have not previously been actively involved in managing expenses, policies, savings and investments.

Her advice to women is to take an active interest in managing the household finances with your husband and equip yourself with as much knowledge as possible through reading and research, and having frank discussions with a qualified financial adviser.

Viwe Dyasi, a provincial general manager for Absa's Wealth, Investment Management and Insurance division, emphasised that the most important aspect of financial planning between couples is transparency.

Neither party in the relationship should be unaware of how the other is spending money. She stressed that neither should spouses have financial secrets.

Dyasi said if you are in a marriage, you should never refer to "my money".

It should always be "our money" and where there is debt it should be "our debt" not "your debt".

Prioritise clearing debts first, regardless of who actually incurred it, so that you are both financially free, she said.

She said couples who understand this will find it easier to have common financial goals and to move towards these together, dispelling any suspicions that one spouse may be cheating financially.

Viwe said the fidelity you expect from a husband or wife should extend to their finances. Without this, it will be difficult to budget, manage your spending, deal with debt and invest.

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