Bruce and Claire were always spending money on things — electronics, vacations, cars and everything else. Their neighbor Bob was envious of all the things they had. If he saw an ad for a new electronic device, Bruce and Claire soon had it. They were always buying, buying, buying, but it didn't look like it made them happy. They're always looking for more, as if that new thing would finally make them happy.
Eventually, they couldn't keep up with their monthly payments. Bob heard the couple arguing, and one day Bruce told Bob that he was jealous of him. Bob wondered why, and Bruce said he envied the peace in Bob's home.
Financial stress is a common cause of marital problems. It can destroy marriages by bringing out or worsening problems that would not have otherwise arisen.
Many types of professionals provide financial advice on managing money, but having good attitudes about money can help you avoid financial stress.
Here are five ways of thinking that can help avoid marriage-destroying financial stress:
1. Appreciate what you have
Focus on being grateful for all you have instead of making yourself miserable thinking about what you lack. Forgive yourself for financial mistakes you made in the past and those missed opportunities you regret letting slip through your fingers.
When you think of something you don't have, immediately replace that thought with something you're grateful for. This is difficult at first, but keep doing it. Move beyond the idea that things will make you happy. Feel rich by appreciating everything you have.
2. Don't be jealous
Envy can lead to emotional decisions to buy things you can't afford. Don't buy things to impress others and make them envious. Those few seconds of glory for yourself aren't worth the marital stress. Keep your spending under control and let others envy the peace in your home.
3. Don't buy a house you can't afford
Some couples think buying a bigger house will make them happier. Often the opposite occurs as financial stress leads to more conflict. Getting in over your head with a house can cause stress that goes on for years.
Keep housing expenses manageable so you can handle your income going down or your expenses going up. It's better to have a small home where there's peace, than a big house where there's stress.
Be careful with family finances. Be realistic about what you can afford. Just because a lender wants to lend you money, it doesn't mean paying it back won't cause financial stress. Some people get into debt buying things they can't afford because they tell themselves that in the future they'll have more money and will repay the debt, but it often doesn't happen.
When investing, consider if the investment will cause financial stress. It may be wise — for the benefit of your marriage — to avoid investments that could cause short-term financial stress even if it might be profitable in the long run.
If you're careful with your money, you can avoid financial stress and have a happier marriage.
Elliott Katz is a speaker and author of "Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants: Timeless wisdom on being a man," which has been translated into 24 languages around the world. You can find out more about his work and contact him on his website.