Fighting in marriage is an attempt to coerce or persuade a spouse to do things they don’t want to do. It always creates stress and emotional distancing, even when it works.
Arguing or fighting as some people like to say is never healthy for relationships. It is normal only in the sense that it is normal to get a headache every once in a while.
I have had some clients say to me that the problem was that they never had fights. That is like telling your medical doctor that the problem is that you never get headaches.
While it is true that some people don’t argue because they are passive or avoidant, which is not healthy, the fix for that is not arguing. The fix is learning how to resolve problems rather than avoiding them. And, you can’t resolve relationship problems by fighting or arguing.
If you and your spouse are fighting about money, it is because both of you believe that is a way to resolve your problems. Fights can only happen when both people participate. Otherwise there is no fight. So, it makes no sense to ever blame your spouse for fighting. If you want to stop the fights, then you need to stop fighting. You need to learn a more productive way.
Maybe you think that you have to fight because of the amount of debt or inappropriate spending that is going on. Can you imagine a financial counselor saying, “I can see that there is a real inequity in your relationship. One of you makes and spends most of the money, but both of you do a lot of work. I suggest you go home and fight about money until this problem is straightened out.”? Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
As a relationship coach, I am never going to recommend my client fight about anything. I am never going to suggest that my clients fight about their problems with their spouse until the problems are resolved. Do you hold the dual belief that fighting is a good thing to do but a relationship professional would never recommend it?
The Bible never recommends fighting in marriages. Christians are to love our spouses and resolve problems peacefully, in a way that brings restoration of the relationship. Reading the Bible regularly will help you discover many unhealthy social beliefs so you can have a better marriage.
Some damaging things we do work a little. People who argue sometimes get their way. This partial success is why people do all of the relationship damaging behaviors like criticizing, complaining, arguing, interrogating, and so forth. Until those ways cause major problems like separation or divorce, people keep doing them.
Most people say they don’t want to fight, but still do. Why is that?
Couple’s fight about money for two reasons.
The first is they believe that talking about problems is a way to solve problems and their talking degrades into arguments although they had not intended that.
There is a widely believed myth that talking about problems is the best way to solve problems. This myth is perpetuated by counselors who only make money as long as they can keep people talking about problems. Once there is no more to talk about, counseling ends. The people who spend the most time going to counseling are the ones that talk a lot, although they have no more success resolving problems.
Some people do this same process with their spouse. They talk and talk about their problems, even though their relationship is actually getting worse. Eventually the relationship becomes so distant that the talking stops. Because talking about problems is not positive, it makes people defensive.
The only time that talking will ever be productive is when both people want the same outcome. Otherwise, it will just lead to more polarization of differences.
How can you actually solve problems?
Problems are solved by identifying correct solutions and applying them. Talking with a spouse who does not have the correct solution is just going to make a bigger problem. For financial problems, you are going to have to research methods people use to deal with such problems and then apply them.
You can buy a book on the subject, you can get educated on financial websites, you can learn from someone else who does it well, or you can hire a professional. In short, you have to get the knowledge from a knowledge source. If your spouse is a knowledge source, learn from your spouse. Otherwise don’t.
Although I am a relationship coach, I know many things about finances because it is a common cause of relationship conflict. If a client tells me they have a spouse who overspends, I don’t immediately think, this person needs to fight and argue and convince their spouse not to overspend. I never think that.
The first thing I ask is whether they have created a budget, otherwise known as a spending plan, with or without their spouse. Most of the time, they have not. Without a spending plan, it is no surprise if they and their spouse have spending problems.
I help them to create a plan A and a plan B that they can present to their spouse as options. Plan A will be a cooperative approach with a spending plan they have already made on their own. Plan B will be a boundaries approach under my client’s control. Between the spending plan, presented in an empathetic, non blaming way, empathy for what their spouse wants, and a backup plan for what will happen if the spending plan doesn’t work, the overspending problem will be solved without any discussion.
Here is a success tip for you: Never bring problems to people unless you bring a solution that will make things better for you and for them. Make sure you have a backup plan in case they won’t accept your win-win solution. That will eliminate fighting and resolve problems.
Before working on problems, make sure you are being attractive for your spouse and helping your spouse to enjoy your relationship. Otherwise, no matter how good your plan is, it will be rejected.
Success tip two: To be successful, you must take the right steps, in the right order. Relationship building comes before working on relationship problems and NOT the other way around.
Another reason your spouse may be causing financial problems or preventing their resolution
The worse a relationship becomes, the more problems people will both find and create. The reason for that is to create a safe emotional distance, to get revenge, or to prepare to end the relationship. Arguments about money or any other thing may signal preparation for an affair, for separation, or for divorce. That is all the more reason not to focus on the problem right away and instead get to work helping your spouse to enjoy your relationship again.
In good relationships, even big problems can be handled peacefully. In bad relationships, even small problems can’t be handled peacefully. The key to good relationships is NOT working on problems, but rather helping your spouse to enjoy your relationship again.
Will fighting a little more with your spouse solve your financial problems?
Will fighting a little more with your spouse solve any of your problems?
A little hard to imagine it will, isn’t it? That’s because you know that arguing makes problems worse rather than better. It also makes people more distant rather than closer. The more people argue, the less they are inclined to share what they have or to work as partners. And, if they argue enough they will create so much distance in their relationship that they will no longer want to be with each other.
There is no financial problem or other problem that you have, whether on your own or with your spouse that other people haven’t already solved. You can learn to do what other people have done to improve their relationship and their financial situation, with a difficult spouse. I have a coaching package for helping people to solve all kinds of problems they have with difficult spouses. It involves first improving the relationship if it is bad, and then presenting practical choices and a backup boundary. If you can do that on your own, great! If not, you are welcome to work with me. And please, stop trying to solve your problems by fighting.