Take for example a husband who questions his wife's spending.
In happy couples, the wife may ask what kinds of things her husband wants her to cut back on and seek solutions for better budgeting.
If she feels that she isn't spending too much, she may talk about her perspective about spending and ask about her husband's.
Happy couples seek to understand each other's points of view, not simply justify their own.
Differing perspectives provide an opportunity to learn about their partner.
Happy couples are inquisitive, not defensive.
(Of course, happily married couples fight so this is not true all of the time.
) In an unhappy couple, a husband questioning his wife's spending can be experienced as criticism.
In unhappy couples, it often is.
When the husband questions his wife's spending, she may feel like he doesn't care about what she wants or needs.
She may feel deprived.
She may think: "If he loved me more, he would want me to have nice things.
" In this way, money is about love, not about budgeting.
Money can also represent power.
This is particularly true if one partner stays at home or makes less than the other.
Take the example of the wife who is a stay-at-home mom.
(Of course, some wives make more money than their husbands).
She may feel that she has no say in how money is spent because it is not "her money".
She can feel disempowered, resentful or both.
Unhappy couples tend to think of resources as either his or hers, not "ours".
Happy couples tend not to see one partner's money as "our money".
The sense of "we-ness" in happy couples is often missing in unhappy ones.
Money can also represent values.
We chose to spend money on what is important to us.
What some people view as frivolous, others view as necessities.
This is another reason couples fight about money-they have differing views of what is necessary and important.
Couples don't need to always agree on how money should be spent.
They simply need to try to understand each other's perspectives.
Unhappily married couples get into power struggles about whose views are "right".
This makes it difficult for couples to resolve any conflict as partners cannot understand each other.
Instead, they feel invalidated or dismissed.
If you find this cycle in your relationship, it may be time to seek counseling.