How Wealth Can Lead To Marital Disaster (And What Can Be Done To Prevent It)

Have you ever heard the phrase "More money, more problems?" If so, you may be hearing someone talk about the problems that brought their marriage to the brink of divorce. 

While money issues are often blamed for breakups, the reality is that it isn't always a lack of money that ends up causing a split. (In fact, a lack of money can force a couple to stay together longer than they might otherwise, simply because they don't have the financial resources to easily leave.) Being financially comfortable (or even quite well-off) can actually be just as toxic to your marriage as a lack of funds. 

Why Would An Abundance Of Money Lead To Divorce?

If you're in an affluent marriage, here's why all that wealth can still lead to divorce (and what you need to know in order to protect yourself financially):

In many wealthy families, one person assumes the role of "breadwinner," which can lead to an imbalance of power — and resentment from both parties. The spouse without an income may feel beholden to the wage-earner, and the working spouse may be inclined to be controlling about the family finances.

It's just as easy to overspend when you're wealthy as it is when you're not — and it could create more tension when the money runs out. People in the upper echelons of society may feel more pressure to "keep up appearances," even when they're struggling financially.

A couple can have opposing views about the purpose of money. When one half of the couple wants to save the money and the other wants to spend the money, it can create serious emotional conflicts.

Even if the couple agrees on whether to spend or save, they may have vastly different goals for that money. If one half of the couple is saving up to retire early and travel the world and the other is saving up to pass money on as a legacy to their heirs, that can create a big rift.

Highly-paid professions often involve a lot of long hours, which can make the unemployed spouse feel as if the employed spouse values his or her job and money more than the marriage.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Future?

Whether you're the wage earner or the dependent spouse, one way to avoid money problems is through a prenuptial agreement. (If you're already married, a post-nuptial agreement will accomplish the same goals.) The agreement can do several things:

  • Get any concerns about money (or feelings that something is unfair) out in the open so they can be addressed honestly and clearly
  • Come up with an agreed-upon plan for a financial budget (how much is saved versus how much is spent)
  • Come to some decisions about what will happen financially if the marriage falls apart (in terms of spousal support and asset division)

Addressing these issues while you're still happily wed is much better than waiting for a crisis in the marriage. For more information about prenups and postnups, talk to a family lawyer today.