Money and marriage...there are two big, important words that often don't play well together. If you're not doing too well in the money department, it usually impacts your marriage. The less-discussed flip side is that if your marriage isn't going too well, it usually impacts your money.
This is fairly obvious when you're talking about the financial impact of a divorce or marital separation. It costs way more to run two households than one household, and money is an area where ex-couples often struggle for control. Divorce usually means a lowered standard of living for both parties, although that is more true for the partner than was the lower-wage earner.
But what about when you're not separating, but your marriage is having trouble? Marriages, particularly military marriages, are under so much stress. It is inevitable that there will be times when things aren't all rainbows and unicorns. Unfortunately, this is also the time when little financial issues can turn into big financial issues.
If your marriage isn't great, you might be looking to find happiness through other outlets, including "treating yourself" or fulfilling those "I've always wanted..." dreams. I'm not against finding happiness, but happiness found at the outlet mall or the car dealership is usually pretty shallow and doesn't last.
Also, most good financial plans involve compromise between two partners. "It is important to you that we can afford to visit our families/afford nice wine/buy a Harley, so I'll cut coupons/work overtime/give up cable TV." Well, if your relationship isn't so great, neither is your desire to make sacrifices for the other person. So, you stop doing whatever you were doing to help your team reach its goal.
Lastly, one way that people deal with a bad relationship is to avoid spending time at home. Whether it is hanging out with your buddies at the bar, or going to the movies a lot, or hanging out at the mall, the opportunities to spend money increase exponentially as soon as you walk out your front door. Staying home is cheap. Not staying home is expensive. But who wants to stay home with someone they don't like?
Fortunately, there are a ton of resources out there to help sort out your relationship, which will then help your finances. One of these programs can probably help you:
- Military and Family Life Consultants (MFLC) offer confidential counseling to military members and their families. If you can't find a MFLC on your base, as at your family center,
- Military OneSource can authorize and pay for up to 12 fully confidential visits to a non-medical counselor,
- Tricare family members can self-refer for up to 8 visits with an off-base mental health counselor,
- the services offer marriage support and enrichment through the religious programs offices, and
- Military One Source offers online and telephonic counseling.
Working through relationship troubles is hard and stressful. Don't let the stress get bigger by letting your marriage trouble turn into money trouble, too.