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Advice for couple on managing financial disagreements

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2020 has been a tough year financially for people across the globe, however it is not only our material lives that have been affected. The pandemic has caused substantial and, in some cases, irreversible changes to our emotional lives. Due to a myriad of reasons many marriages have become casualties during this challenging time.

Importantly, of course, couples have found themselves in each other’s company much more than usual. More time together means more interaction, which potentially leads to more conflicts. Small irritations are amplified into colossal issues that cannot be ignored. In addition, disagreements over how to conduct oneself during a pandemic are leading couples to question or even re-evaluate their compatibility, as they contemplate how best to balance the needs of society at large with their own.

Money has long been a significant make-or-break factor in marriages and it has become a major source of conflict during the pandemic, since many people have been forced to take unpaid leave or a pay cut; some have even been laid off. The reduction in household income has led to a drastic shift in lifestyle choices for many couples, as well as additional emotional duress.

The resolution to these financial disagreements may be an age-old one that applies to any relationship at any stage – communication.

Effective communication is key. Only when expectations and desires are clearly expressed can couples move forward as a united front.

How we spend, save and invest reflects our values, beliefs and habits. The amount of money that we have impacts our lifestyle directly. When partners disagree on how to handle their finances, the damage caused to the relationship can seem irreversible. Effective communication can help bridge this fundamental gap.

Therapy is not a dirty word.
Counselling can be highly effective for couples who are at odds for financial reasons. It gives them the opportunity to communicate effectively and openly in the presence of a skilled mediator. Within a secure environment, they can open up to each other, understand each other, re-imagine a future together and possibly save their marriage.

Being able to communicate openly with each other is particularly important at the current time since the change in tone and tempo of society has prompted many of us to reflect more deeply on our present and future circumstances. Life cannot go on as normal. How, then, should we proceed? Conflicts regarding money have been exacerbated and if a couple feels their relationship is in jeopardy, they should not hesitate to seek help from a marriage guidance counsellor.

If it is impossible for a couple to resolve their issues, the next step is dissolution of the marriage. To deal with such circumstances, couples need to understand both the bigger picture and the finer details of the legal proceedings.

At Withers, we have a number of specialist family lawyers, speaking fluent English, Cantonese, Mandarin and French, who are ready to talk you through the various options that would best suit your family circumstances. Please feel free to contact us to learn more about how our family lawyers can help you. (Photo courtesy: Withers)

Withers, 30/F United Centre, 95 Queensway, Admiralty, 3711 1600, www.withersworldwide.com/en-gb/hong-kong
Sharon Ser is a Partner in the family and divorce team at Withers. Find more from Sharon at www.withersworldwide.com/en-gb/people/sharon-a-ser.

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