Moderator Emeritus
Posts: 32,869
Registered: ‎08-04-2007
Re: Am I in the Wrong Here?

I'd definitely focus on the relationship over money. While money is the top reason for divorce and breakups, there are always underlying issues mostly dealing with communication, or the lack thereof. That's what you should focus on. IMO I know I'm getting into the realm of unsolicited advice but check out Personality Plus by Littauer, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Carnegie, and The Five Love Languages by Chapman.


There are ways of communicating with your spouse that will get her to understand the financial situation and to get her to eagerly accept any family rules when it comes to $$$. She's hardwired differently than you are and explaining this to her in a way that makes sense to you will not work. You have to use her personality traits and her needs as leverage to get her to agree with any positive spending habits.


For example, my DW is terrible with money. If I give her $500, it'll be gone within minutes and she'll be back asking for more. That was a source of contention in our family too where I'm juggling the needs of many so she can get her hair done, new dress, whatever. I had to come up with a way to get her to understand that we aren't the federal government and we can't increase the debt limit whenever we want. I prepared charts and graphs showing how broke we will be if we continued trends, but she would only stare at it like a deer in the headlights. Her personality is that of a popular sanguine and if you toss her in a room of 100 people, she'll be BFFs forever with each one within minutes. She's the life of the party. Because of her traits, I cannot come to her with stats and figures. I had to make it emotional with her in order to connect. I had to place a high level of negative emotion on having no money, but also a positive emotion on the things she wants and needs, and play those two emotions to get what I need for the family.


So, I'll give her $x and ask her what she'd like to get with that money. She'll tell me food, clothes for the kids, but then she'll go into what she would like. I always ask DW to describe how she would feel when getting this or that and she goes on for 5 hours straight telling me the benfits, why she wants it, etc. All I do is listen, pay attention, and ask a question here or there. Even if she doesn't buy the item, she always feels better after talking to me about wanting it and sometimes even talks herself out of the purchase (win-win). As the conversation continues she'll often go over budget in her own mind. I'll remind her that all we have between this and that day is $x. Sometimes she'll get upset, but that's when I use the negative emotion within our conversation. I'll ask her if that new baby furniture purchases would be more important (using your example) than a new coat or whatever. Her negative emotion for not having a very important purchase for a kiddo (or other important needs) strongly outweighs the positive emotion of having an item she wanted. When I remind her of that negative emotion, purchasing things isn't as important to her. I'll aways come back to that negative emotion whenever I think she needs to get back on track when it comes to financial priorities. Everyone is different of course, and maybe your DW likes numbers and gets it, but this is what I have to do on an ongoing basis. When she slips, and she does, I never throw it in her face that she goofed up by setting some bad priorities; I calmly get her back on track using this method.