Money and Relationships

chicago couples counseling money

Personal Finances Can Ruin a Relationship

By: Dr. John Moore

One of the main reasons many couples find they get into arguments relates to good old fashioned money. In fact, it is one of the main reasons that couples seek out therapy in the first place. Why? Simply because at some point in time one or both people in the relationship realize something is drastically wrong with their financial and personal wellness. 

At Couples Counseling Center, we have found however that problems related to personal finance are often symptomatic of more deeply ingrained, caustic issues that are quickly destroying the relationship.

Couples Money Problems

For many people, particularly couples, the topic of personal finance is difficult to approach and often shrouded in shame. This happens when one or both people in a given relationship actively choose not to talk about cash flow, credit card bills and general spending habits.

As time goes on and debt begins to accumulate, resentment can begin to build. Eventually, something happens and a major argument ensues. After the blow-up however, the financial issues still remain and the monetary damage has been done. This is the case when someone is engaged in excessive, often unnecessary spending.

Signs and Symptoms 

So how do you know if money may be a problem in your relationship? Here are a few quick questions to ask yourself.

Hint: You may want to print this blog post off and circle each item that applies. If you have circled more than three, there is a good chance trouble is on the horizon.

Let’s jump right in!


  • Hiding credit card bills from significant other.
  • Going on secret spending sprees.
  • Retail therapy (emotional buying).
  • Lying about finances to significant other.
  • Secretly borrowing money to replenish spent cash.
  • Having a “secret” credit card or store charge card.
  • Avoiding the topic of finances with significant other.
  • Pretending that everything will “take care of itself” regarding money.  

Creating Financial Change

As mentioned previously, financial problems in relationships are usually an indication of something more insidious going on. In order to begin the process of change, it is important that both parties engage in honest, meaningful and transparent dialogue about the role of money in their lives.  

One way to encourage the process of change is to consider working with a trained couples therapist. In the safety of the counseling office, a couples counselor can help each person explore what money means to each individual. The therapist can also help couples learn how to talk about money in healthy, productive ways.

Many people share that discussing personal finance in therapy to be “cleansing” in nature, which is almost always a strong sign that the couple can start anew.

Money and Relationships

There is a very informative book entitled, Couples Money: What Every Couple Should Know About Money and Relationships.  The book is designed to help couples gain greater insight into the role of money with an emphasis on creating financial health. 


At Couples Counseling Center, we believe in strong, loving and stable relationships. We encourage all couples to explore their personal finances together and do so with intentional care.

We have included an anonymous poll below for you to vote in regarding the role of money in your relationship. After you vote, be sure to take a look at the results.