Could money ruin your marriage?

by Kristina Tahnyak on May 9, 2013 · 4 comments

Good morning Dinks. This week at my office something very interesting happened and I am not sure how I feel about it.  I am going to share the story and I would love to hear how you feel about the whole situation. Whenever the subject of love versus money comes up here on Dinks Finance most of us agree that love should always prevail over our greed of money.  We agree that our relationships are more important than a big salary.  But when money is the main source of stress in your relationship, should love still conquer all?

This week one of my co-workers announced that she is leaving her husband of five years.  I have not been at my new job (only since January) very long so I don’t know my co-worker very well, but the news seemed shocking to a lot of people in our office.

Two years ago my co-workers’s husband lost his job and Jennifer has been the sole source of family income ever since.  She has a good job and a decent salary but I’m not sure it’s enough to support two people in the lifestyle that she wants to have. A childless family of two can definitely live on $70,000 a year, but the lifestyle is very different than having a duo income household of $140,000 a year.

Jennifer and her husband are not ending their marriage because they don’t love each other anymore; she still loves her husband very much.  But over time the stress of being the sole income provider in the relationship took over and became more important than the love they share.

Even in a marriage you have to put yourself first

Some people may say that Jennifer is making the right decision because a marriage is a partnership. If one spouse doesn’t hold up their end of the agreement and the marriage just doesn’t work anymore maybe it’s time to move on.

Two years is a long time to be unemployed. I understand that Jennifer’s husband may be waiting for the perfect job offer before he re-enters the workforce full time. But when your wife is depending on you to be her partner isn’t any source of income better than no income at all?

Maybe it’s a cop out to end your marriage

Some other people may feel that Jennifer is just running away from her marriage at the first sign of trouble. She did make a promise (or is it an oath?) to love her husband for richer and poorer.  Maybe instead of leaving her husband Jennifer should try to encourage him, support him and help him find a new job or a completely new career path.

Living on a lower income is fesable for many couples but some people may feel that if we are in a marriage we shouldn’t have to settle for less than the lifestyle that we want to have.

My question for you, what if Jennifer doesn’t leave now and what if her husband is unemployed for another five years – at what point is the commitment being taken advantage of?

Photo by joi

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Free Money Minute May 9, 2013 at 7:50 am

My belief is that a marriage is not a financial partnership. Sure, if each spouse is not trying to build the relationship and contribute, that is an issue. But, let’s suppose the spouse who is unemployed is trying to find work but just can’t. Is that reason to leave? Most marriages are built on staying together for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.

2 John S @ Frugal Rules May 9, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Not knowing the entire situation it’s tough to know exactly what to say. I do know that money is the main thing that causes divorce and do not know how hard the husband was looking for a job. If he was just skating on by, I can understand frustration on her part. However, I would have to respectfully disagree that even if a marriage you need to look out for yourself first. In my opinion once you’re married you are part of a team and both members are equal. If not, then for richer or poorer really means nothing.

3 Christine May 10, 2013 at 2:02 am

It would be nice to know if the husband took over a lot of other responsibilities…akin to being a housewife. Househusband? There are certainly a lot of responsibilities he can pick up that would help alleviate the total stress the 2 of them have in their life. My career is a lot more flexible than my husband’s (and more unsteady) so I have stints of no work where I carry more of our personal responsibilities. That way we’re both putting effort into our relationship…just in different ways.

4 Emily @ Financial Money Tips May 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

There comes a point, no matter how much you love the other person, that you’re looking at the other person and feeling the inequality of the relationship. There’s a resentment which develops – and 10 years is way too long to not have at least some form of income or contribution. Marriages are partnerships, one where both are striving equally to make the house go – Jennifer, more than likely, didn’t sign up to have a dependent.

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