Great Relationships: Checkbook Battles and How to Solve Them

"You can't hold on to a dime. Do you own the mall yet?!"

"It takes a crowbar to open your wallet. You can't take it with you, you know!!"

If these words or ones like them sound all too familiar, you might be experiencing "checkbook battles" in your relationship.

Checkbook battles are simply fights about money. In marriage, the Big Six areas of potential conflict are communication, sex, children, in-laws, religion and, you guessed it, money. For many couples, money can become a vicious battleground.

In my work helping couples deal with this issue, I've found that people are often uncomfortable talking about money. Almost any other issue, including sex, seems to be discussed more easily. Many couples have never discussed it all, except to argue about it. It's not surprising that research shows many divorces can be traced back to conflicts over money.

So why all the conflict over money? Maybe it's because people tend to regard money in very different ways.

A useful definition of money is simply that it is "green energy." The way that we handle this green energy is our "money style." Our money style is determined by at least two factors: the emotional meaning that we give to money and the way money was handled in the family in which we grew up.

Consider what the emotional meaning of money is for you. Does it represent security, power, pleasure, control, independence? Or perhaps something else? How is your perspective akin to and different from your partner's?

Secondly, how was money handled in your family when you were a child? Were your parents savers or big spenders? If your partner's background is significantly different from yours, there is the potential for checkbook battles.

Consider, for example, one couple that came in for counseling. See if you can pick up the differences in Bob and Mary's money styles.

When Bob was growing up, money was simply a means to an end, and the end was fun and pleasure. If you wanted something, you bought it. The phrase "can't afford it" had little or no meaning.

Mary grew up quite differently. In her family, money was related to security and self-esteem. Every potential purchase had to be thoroughly researched. Resources, including Consumer Reports, had to be consulted.

After much deliberation, a decision was made, and if the money was spent, the purchaser then felt guilty about it.

Can you pick out the different emotional meanings of money for these two people? Do you think there might be some potential for conflict?

If you and your partner have different money styles, don't be alarmed. Most folks do.

There are many things that can be done to help blend the differing styles.

Here is a list of do's and don'ts that not only helped Bob and Mary avoid checkbook battles, it strengthened their relationship as well.

- Don't assume that your way is the only right way.

- Don't accuse your partner of being wrong or sinful.

- Don't try to force your partner to see the issue your way.

- Don't handle the issue in secret, behind your partner's back.

- Do identify your own money style.

- Do identify your partner's money style.

- Do learn some flexibility.

- Do explore your goals for life together. Remember you're partners, not competitors.

- Do try switching roles. Let the bill-payer do the shopping and the shopper do the bill paying.

- Do discover what you might need to learn from your partner's style.

One way to combine the two styles is to create a reasonable working budget.

There are two keys to making a budget work: You must have an agreed-upon amount of money that cannot be spent unless it is first discussed; Each person gets a small amount of money that can be used however he or she wishes, no questions asked.

If you continue to remain stuck on this issue, it might be useful to consult a financial planner, a marriage counselor, or both.

Remember that the goal is to blend your styles so this green energy called money works for you and draws you closer together.

Come to think of it, blending styles and growing closer seem like good goals no matter what the issue.

For more tips and tools on resolving conflicts and creating a great relationship, visit relationship coach Jeff Herring's website

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at


7 Ways to Improve Your Relationships at Work
Being a career coach, I've heard a lot of stories about workplace interactions, mainly between an employer and employee. In fact, one global study found that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cite 'lack of appreciation' as their reason for leaving.


9 Times Reaching A Plateau In Your Relationship Is A Problem
Relationships go through phases, just like individuals do. But if you're going through a romantic relationship plateau, it can feel quite jarring. While not all plateaus signal that there's a bigger issue with a relationship, there are some signs to ...


How Social Media Usage Affects Doctor To Patient Relationships
Another massive study conducted at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, indicates that social media has even a stronger impact on doctor-patient relationships. After analyzing over 1,700 articles, researches identified that the patients' use ...


How To Overcome The Three Challenges Of Maintaining Professional Relationships
With refined communication skills at the ready and a host of networking opportunities marked on your calendar, you're well on your way to building the strong relationships you need to succeed in your career. But simply making connections just isn't ...

The Florida Times-Union

Live for Life: Marriage enrichment nonprofit helps save relationships, reduce Duval divorce rate
The Florida Times-Union
April and Tad O'Brien connected online in June 2012 and met in person a month later at a Jacksonville Sharks game, breaking the ice by following the theme of the night and dressing up in '70s garb. They were both divorced with children, had careers and ...

and more »

Psychology Today (blog)

To Understand Your Relationships, Try Understanding Yourself
Psychology Today (blog)
Relationships involve a constant give-and-take between the desires of each partner for both self-expression and intimacy. According to a recent paper by University of California Davis psychologist Christopher Hopwood and Michigan State University's ...

Fast Company

Furniture shopping really does kill relationships
Fast Company
All the decision-making, particularly around such expensive items, puts a lot of strain on relationships. The average American couple has 72 arguments around purchasing decisions when setting up their homes. This is a process that takes, on average ...

Social relationships more important than hard evidence in partisan politics
Science Daily
Three factors drive the formation of social and political groups according to the research: social pressure to have stronger opinions, the relationship of an individual's opinions to those of their social neighbors, and the benefits of having social ...

and more »

How Online Medical Info Impacts Patient-Provider Relationships
November 19, 2018 - The slew of online medical information is impacting patient-provider relationships, according to a new survey from Merck Manuals. The survey of 240 family physicians found that patients are increasingly accessing online medical ...

Livingston Daily

Phase two of Judicial Tenure hearing for Judge Brennan focuses on relationships, memory
Livingston Daily
The continuation hearing took place in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in Detroit. A significant portion of the hearing revolved around Livingston County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Ryan's relationship with now-retired Michigan State ...

Google News

Add Trust To Your Relationship

Trust is something that is important to every single relationship... Read More

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen After Wife Gets MBA

"Hesh, where is your business plan?" It was a question... Read More

Everything I Know About Relationship Success I Learned At The Playground

It happened again!I was enjoying an evening with my little... Read More

3 Stone Diamond Rings ? Three Times As Nice!

It is said that the stones in 3 stone diamond... Read More

Infidelity: Spying is NOT Revenge

Do not use what you find on your cheating spouse... Read More

Affairs: What an Affair Really Is and What an Affair Really Does

We hear about it all the time - in magazines,... Read More

Great Relationship Advice: Declaration or Demonstration

Q: Could you help us settle a growing conflict in... Read More

Are You Looking for Ms. Right or Mr. Not so Wrong?

Do you want to find the "love of your life?"It's... Read More

Boston Lawyers, DC Lawyers and Individual Rights

Looks like everyone wants to sue someone right? Well, I... Read More

Coping With A New Culture: Problems And Solutions

Coping with a new culture has never been the easiest... Read More

How Do I Get Him or Her To Talk To Me?!!!

This is a common concern in our society for single... Read More

Relationship Advice: The Me Approach or the We Approach

A husband and wife were doing a little redecorating and... Read More

Recognizing Unhealthy Relationships

One of the keys to obtaining a better life or... Read More

Why He May Be Cheating On You

Why He May Be Cheating On YouThere could be all... Read More

Why Anger is Essential to Healthy Relationships

Many of us have some very definite ideas about anger.... Read More

Lobster - The Food Of Romantics

Summer has arrived! Woo-Hoo! Do you know what always comes... Read More

Sound Seduction Advice for Dating and Romance Success

BackgroundSeduction is a subtle tool used with the ultimate goal... Read More

A Guide to Relationship Quizzes

Sometime in the 1950's, women's magazines started publishing relationship quizzes... Read More

Support for Non-ADD Spouses and Partners

Living with adult ADD can be quite a challenge. Not... Read More

Great Relationships: 4 Big Relationship Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Relationship Mistake No. 1 - Partner BashingBashing the one you... Read More

Confession of the Egoists!

Hamlet has given this generation an awfully amazing and defensive... Read More

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places? - How to fine tune your relationship radar

I don't think a week goes by that I don't... Read More

7 Ways To Improve Your Relationship

Good relationships don't just happen. I've heard many of my... Read More

Can Men And Women Be Friends? Or When Harry Met Sally Did He Really Just Want to Jump Her Bones?

Men and women can't really be just friends, can they?... Read More


Mairi came into my life about two years ago. She... Read More