I hope you have money problems.
That probably seems like an odd thing to say, but it's true. I hope the biggest problem in your marriage is money because it's one of the easiest to fix. Note, I didn't say you wouldn't have money problems, but it won't be a problem in your marriage if you learn to look at money differently.
So here's one question that may change your perspective. Is money more important than your spouse?
If your answer is yes, then zoom on back to the first marriage therapy lesson and do it so you can see how amazing your spouse is. Everyone has amazing, you just have to find it. If you're still struggling after that exercise, let me know and I'll write more on that subject.
If your answer is no, which I hope is most everyone's honest answer, then that's the best first step to eradicating money as a problem in your marriage. Money should never be more important than a human being. Duh, right? But when we fight about money, get upset about money, complain about money, then we are placing it as a higher value over the people in our lives. If you're feeling awful because you've done one of the things just listed, don't beat yourself up. We've all done it and now you have the proper perspective to change it.
Here's another thing to consider. No matter how much money couples have or don't have, they could fight over it. But you don't have to be that way. You can learn to look at money troubles as a challenge that you can conquer together. Here's some steps that help:
1. Become informed. Track purchases from the last few months to see where your money is going. Don't get frustrated by it. It's in the past. It's done. What matters is how you are going to change to make it better.
2. Set a reasonable goal. Figure out a dollar amount with your spouse that you should save, or not spend, or put toward something else. Give your goal a time frame. You may not agree with your spouse's goal and he/she might not agree with yours. So each of you will have to budge and come up with a goal somewhere in the middle. It's hard, but once you can both agree on something together, you'll be able to work on it together.
3 . Look for ways that YOU can cut back, not your spouse. Don't put blame on them, even if they spend more than you do. Everyone has a different emotional attachment to money. Show them love and encouragement instead of criticism and you will be able to make progress. I repeat, criticism will NOT help you in your money issues. It won't help you in your marriage in any way either.
4 . If your spouse doesn't volunteer to cut back, ask your spouse nicely if they could make some changes. If you yell at them, they won't make changes.
5. Track your progress. Track receipts. There are some online services that can help you do this. I personally use a computer spreadsheet program. If you prefer oldschool, go the paper route.
As you work on money issues together in a blame free environment, you'll grow together. If you overspend, say you're sorry and try to do better. If your spouse overspends, forgive them with encouragement so they can improve.
If money is so tight that you're hungry, know that I get it. We've been there before. It's hard. But we worked through it. You can too. You'll need hope, optimism, and determination to work hard. Trust in each other that things will work out, even if they seem impossible. Experience and reading about the countless lives of others has taught me that things will work out for those who keep trying with hope and optimism.
And just think, you have someone beside you to work through the difficulties of life. How lucky is that?