Marriages are supposed to be built on equality. Both partners are supposed to contribute to the success of their partnership, working together to make their mutual dreams come true. The issue of mismatched spending and saving styles comes between more couples than nearly any other possible issue. Even infidelity fails to split up more couples than problems with money, especially when the problem is caused by imbalance. This problem is magnified by couples who have children and couples who are remarried for a second or third time.
Debt is one of those topics that are either ignored or stepped around during courtship, especially in the early stages but once marriage has been mentioned as a serious option, the talk needs to happen. If no one talks about debt it does not magically go away. In fact, it will crop up and ruin things at a different time like when you are trying to buy a home or even rent your first apartment as a couple. Whatever you are planning to do, it is important that you discuss debt and have an idea about spending habits. Couples who are engaged should take the time to go through their finances and their debt so that there are no nasty surprises after the wedding.
For some couples, the problem does not start right away, however. During courtship, one partner might be extravagant, willingly suggesting expensive meals and buying lovely but costly gifts. The other might be more cautious, suggesting that they are very careful with their money. Once they are married and the honeymoon period ends their “real” money attitude might show up. The extravagant partner is in reality a penny pinching miser while the cautious one is an adventurous and impulsive shopping fan- perfectly willing to spend money they do not have for things they do not need. That will cause tensions to explode in short order.
An impartial third party might be the only way to reconcile some of the hurt feelings and misunderstandings that come up from money issues. Debt counseling will help get the couple back on track and can help both understand how their different spending styles can actually work together. Once they are back on track with a spending plan, some of their tensions and other issues might disappear. However, if they are still fighting after they find a budget that works there might be a need for further counseling to work on other aspects of their relationship.