Money and Marriage

A lot of women have the expectation that their husbands should be like their fathers and be excellent providers and allow them to have the extravagant lifestyle that they are accustomed to.  They spend as much money as their husband gives them, and it is never enough.  This creates a lot of resentment from the husband, who may not be as rich as the father, and even if he is, he may have a different attitude towards money.  He may be more of a saver, coming from a fear of more difficult times ahead or just in order to build a nice investment account in order to have passive income.

A spouse who is having a different attitude about spending money could be a continuous source of resentment, anger, and even fights among the couples.  So, an open discussion about how to spend the family income is in order.  The worst possible thing is to avoid talking and addressing the subject.  Fights about money are frequently the cause of divorce.

The most important thing is to first do inventory and find out how much money is spent on necessities:  mortgage, insurances, groceries, etc.  Then, based on the income, the couple needs to discuss how much they agree to save.  The best would be to do it as an automatic order of a certain amount of money going into a swing account, IRA, DRIP, brokerage account, etc.  So, this money for them does not exist.  They have to manage with what is left.

In my practice, I often do couples therapy.  The most frequent issues that come up in therapy are money and sex, in that order.  A lot of times these are connected, as in the most ancient trade in the world – sex is being given for money or expensive jewelry and/or other luxuries.  And, on the contrary, sex is being withheld by both partners, as a punishment by a resentful spouse.  Sometimes it is done consciously and intentionally.  Sometimes it is done unconsciously, as some kind of subconscious sabotage.  Sometimes fights about money issues bring the couple to estrangement and distance and affects intimate relationships in an indirect way.

Love is blind, and when you fall in love, you become addicted to your partner.  You have no or little impulse control; you feel on top of the world; you want to impress your lover; you feel invulnerable.  This is dangerous, as you are tempted to spend thousands of dollars on gifts, and you want to spoil your sweetheart.  You want to show them your love, and you don’t look at budgeting.  Our society is a consumer society, and we constantly see in the media that the way to show love is by buying gifts, expensive gifts, and expensive vacations.

Then a lot of couples decided to spend obscene amounts of money on very expensive receptions, wedding dress, and everything around it.  This is a very difficult pattern to break.  Even the partner who is more of a saver—tries to plan for the future, and shows their love in a long-term plan—is afraid to be looked at as stingy or not-loving if they push the issue of saving or being more of a realist.  A lot of times the husbands are pushed to get the bigger house, with too big of a mortgage relative to income, and in the name of love, are trying to provide their wives with expensive gadgets, furniture, jewelry, vacations, cars, etc.  The fact that the money is coming out of the common account and that the debt on the credit cards keeps on growing is being neglected.

Sooner or later, when the debts are growing, the couple feels tense and worried.  They start blaming each other.  They start fighting about money.  Each blames the other for making unnecessary expenses, and a lot of times this brings them not only to bankruptcy, but also divorce.  Talking about money is extremely important.  Planning for the future, agreeing on a goal, making budgets, etc. is mandatory, starting in the very beginning of the relationship.  The paradox is that a lot of couples avoid talking about money in fear that it would bring a conflict, but when they are over their heads with debt, it brings about much worse conflicts.

Working with couples, I found all combinations, but more frequently than not, the wife is a spender and the husband is a saver.  Sometimes, when I try to rationally work with them on the issue if budgeting, they both agree to work on it, and we come to some understanding of how to get to balance the budget, I find out that one of the partners, if not both, sabotage the efforts.  The reasons for sabotage come from quite a variety of subconscious issues.  Before we are able to effectively address the budgeting issue, we need to address subconscious sabotage related to it.

In my practice, I often find that women subconsciously punish their husband by spending.  Betty, for example, was angry at her husband for spending so much time at the office.  She was afraid he had an affair. She felt neglected, so she felt entitled to compensate herself with extensive shopping.  She bought expensive clothes and cosmetics and spent money on botox injections, etc.  She rationalized it as an attempt to get her husband’s attention and be more attractive to him.  Subconsciously, though, she punished him for not spending enough time with her.

It is interesting that her husband, Mike, responded emotionally to her subconscious motives, as he resented her for spending so much more.  He was extremely upset with her but did not express his feelings.  Instead, he told her that because of her spending, he had to work even harder to earn more money. He stayed at work even longer hours, which enhanced Betty’s resentment, and they were caught in a vicious cycle.  It caused Betty to face her subconscious motives and stop spending.  This was the necessary step for a more effective communication and was the single most important factor, in my estimation, in saving the marriage.

Nancy was upset with her husband for not making enough money.  She kept on spending a lot of money and got the family in credit card debt more and more.  She bought things for her and the kids without any restraints.  She rationalized that her spending may prompt her husband to be less passive and try to get another business or make a career jump to be a better provider for the family.  Her husband, on the other hand, became increasingly upset with her, and they were talking about divorce, which they could not afford.  We found out with energy muscle testing that Nancy subconsciously felt angry at her husband for not satisfying her in bed.  She felt “he was not a real man,” and subconsciously expected him to prove his manhood in the business arena.

Melinda, on the other hand, kept spending a lot of money, shopping for things she did not really need or even use.  The closets were filled with unopened boxes.  She was facing a divorce, as her husband could not persuade her to stop the shopping sprees.  Melinda did not have any psychiatric disorder; yet, when I checked her with muscle testing, we found out that her father did not deserve for her to stop shopping.  Subconsciously, she was very angry at her father for being extremely stingy.  She tried to compensate herself for being totally deprived as a child and, at the same time, to take her “revenge” against her husband, whom she subconsciously saw as a father figure.  Once she discovered it, we were able to use my Sabotage Correction Technique, and the shopping sprees finally came to an end.

When both partners are spenders, they can very quickly get into financial disaster.  I treated such a young couple, who were facing bankruptcy.  Luckily, they still did not have children.  Both of them were working and had good paying jobs, but they went out to eat a few times a week and bought everything their hearts desired.

When we talked about budgeting and having a plan to pay the credit card debt, Melissa was able to cut down on her spending.  Her husband, Robert, was unable to stop buying expensive gadgets.  He said he is “kind of out of control.”  At that time, I decided to check for subconscious sabotage.  Indeed, he had a weak muscle when we checked, “Melissa deserves for me to stop spending.”  Subconsciously, he felt resentment that she made so much less money than he did and yet was entitled to spend the same.  He did not allow himself to consciously feel it, as it was irrational to his conscious mind and so selfish, so he suppressed it.  This suppressed resentment and feeling of unfairness caused him to spend more, as he subconsciously felt he deserved to get more.

We were able to successfully remove the sabotage, and the couple was able to pay all their debts, avoid bankruptcy, and even start saving.  They still dedicate about 10% of their income to going out to eat and having fun.

So, even with a simple and mundane thing such as budgeting, we can find patterns of subconscious sabotage. It was imperative to find the sabotage and remove it, in order to save the marriage and prevent bankruptcy.

Author: Dr. Daphna Slonim

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