Financial Boundaries Within the Marriage
Boundaries within the marriage are very important to the relationship. Determining what should be kept private between the couple versus what is told to the outside world makes a big impact. Finances are an issue that some people prefer to remain very private about, while other people don’t mind sharing some personal financial information. For couples with different boundaries about financial information, this can create conflict.
If you are invited somewhere by friends but are on a tight budget, do you feel comfortable saying you can’t afford to go? If your in-laws ask you how much you paid for your car, how do you respond? Does anyone know how much money you make? Or how much you pay for bills? Or how much you spent on your last vacation?
Talk to your spouse about what you are comfortable sharing. For some people, sharing the positive financial information is comfortable. Telling a friend you got a bonus at work might feel okay. Or sharing with your family that your house is paid in full might seem like a great idea. However, sharing that you have credit card debt might feel awkward.
If your spouse feels comfortable sharing more information than you do, talk about your feelings. If it causes you to feel anxious having people know your situation, discuss this. Discuss your thoughts and feelings about this subject often. Your comfort level likely will vary depending on the financial situation and the person receiving the information.
Try to respect your spouse’s boundaries. If you tend to be more free flowing with information and it causes your spouse to feel uncomfortable, try to respect your spouse’s wishes. Perhaps a vague discussion about money or finances will feel more comfortable for your spouse when you are talking with your friend, instead of mentioning specific numbers. For example, saying you understand credit card debt versus saying you owe $3,000 may feel more reasonable.
Each couple will have different financial boundaries. And each person within the couple will likely have different opinions about what is acceptable and what seems inappropriate. Communicating about these issues can help prevent problems. When one person slips up and shares more information causing the person to feel uncomfortable, an open discussion about feelings can be helpful.