This Is What Dave Ramsey’s Popular Take On Healthy Marriages Is Missing

by James Hendrickson on September 21, 2018 · 2 comments

It was inevitable that this topic would come up on a personal finance blog about couple’s finance.

Like or not, Dave Ramsey is one of the nation’s best known personal finance gurus. I wanted to review his take on marriage and money, then share what he’s getting right and what he misses.

Here is a quick clip where Ramsey outlines his views on marriage and finances.

Dave Ramsey’s Take On Marriage and Finances

Ramsey basically says the following:

  1. It’s easier to get organized around money if you are married. Married people “get along better with money.” That is, they’re happier and richer than cohabiting people.
  2. Your chances of divorce go down if you do these four things:
    -You agree about money and money values. You have a plan and both work toward it.
    -You agree on religion. This is because beliefs condition behavior.
    -You agree about children & childrearing
    -You agree about how to deal with in-laws. Every family has crazy in it.
  3. It’s better if your income is over $50,000, you didn’t have kids before you got married, and you both go to college.

Dave’s Take On Marriage and Finances Is Good, But Incomplete

In general, he is correct. There are some limitations. First, Dave is a religious guy, which turns some people off. He also overstated the case when it comes to the conclusiveness of the research. However, where Dave goes most wrong is that his perspective isn’t a deep enough dive on the topic, especially if you’re already married and find yourself in a jam.

An Alternative: John Gottman and The Four Horsemen Of Marital Conflict

John Gottman Rocking It

If you want a really good, science-based approach to good marital communication, check out John Gottman’s research.

Gottman is a crusty old clinical psychologist at Washington State who spent a lifetime studying marital conflict. A bit like Ramsey, Gottman had some early failures in life. He was divorced twice in his early life and then devoted most of his career to figuring out how not to get divorced. He’s been happily married to his third wife for 30 years. He’s built up a body of work around what his psychological research has taught about marital communication.

In a nutshell, Gottman says you should do 4 things: avoid stonewalling, having contempt for your partner, being defensive or being critical.

Most of what he recommends is based on complicated statistical models of small groups of people followed over a long period of time. However, his website has a lot of practical skills for people who have marital issues they want to address.

If you want some really good material on avoiding marital conflict, I’d recommend checking out these four starting points. They outline the four core dangers to avoid as well as healthy alternatives.

  1. Stonewalling
  2. Contempt
  3. Defensiveness
  4. Criticism

As a bit of a final note, Gottman’s research doesn’t necessarily focus on money per se. It’s more about healthy communication. That said, the applications pertain as much to concerns about money as anything.

What do you think about Dave Ramsey’s take on marriage and finances? Let us know in the comments below!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Jennifer Jank September 23, 2018 at 5:08 pm

I also find Dave Ramsey a bit difficult to listen to, even though I think that he does provide some good financial advice. Communications are most important to avoid divorce. But if you have to go through divorce, be smart about it. Particularly your finances!

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