When Your Spouse Won't Participate in a Financial Plan or Budget

young couple frustrated about finances
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One of the most frustrating aspects of managing your finances is when your spouse does not participate in the discussion. This can be frustrating for both you and your spouse. It does not help if your spouse thinks you are nagging him or hounding on the money all the time. You don't want to let your money ruin your marriage. It is important to fully understand the problem in order to fix it. Following are some common reasons why one spouse may not be participating in the money planning process and possible solutions.

If your spouse refuses to combine finances, you may be facing other more serious problems. It is important to realize that lack of communication on finances has led to divorce and other larger problems in your marriage. if there are other issues why your spouse will not combine finances, you will need to work on solving those bigger problems, as well. 

The Problem: Spouse Doesn’t Want to Budget or Plan

If your spouse understand the need to plan but just doesn’t want to, or he hates following a budget because it is too much work involved, you are going to have a difficult time getting him on board and keeping him there. You cannot make someone do something they do not want to do, and so it is important to come up with a solution that will work for both of you.

The Solution: Create a Basic Plan for Review

Make it easy for him to participate in the discussion. Come up with a basic budget outline that covers the basic bills including things like groceries and gas.

Then have a discussion on how you will spend your discretionary income on things like eating out, what your individual spending money should be and other issues. Then switch to a cash budget for all the categories your spouse uses. Explain that once the money is gone, then you have to stop spending.

You can even break it into weekly amounts to make it easier to get used to. This will take some of the pressure off of you, and you will have talked about how to spend the money over the month. Then, once a month, ​go over the budget again.

The Problem: Spouse Feels Blamed or Picked on in Discussions

If you are in a bad financial situation with a lot of debt or you seem to have a hard time sticking to a budget, the way you are approaching the situation may make your spouse feel like you are blaming her. This can be a tricky situation, especially if you feel that part or the entire problem was her fault. However, it is not a good idea to place blame when you are in this situation. It will make your spouse feel awful and will cause you to approach the situation with a negative attitude.

The Solution: Change Your Approach

To fix this issue you need to change the way you approach talking about money. Stop with the blame, and do not focus on the past. Instead, you should say what we can change is what happens from this point forward. We are not going to blame each other for where we are but just work on getting out of this situation. Ask your spouse to commit to a plan that will change the current situation and make things better.

With this approach, your spouse may be more willing to get on board and to improve the situation. It diffuses the negativity and allows you to work towards a more positive future.

Problem: Spouse Doesn’t Feel Involved in the Process or That He Is Told What to Do

While you may think you have a reluctant spouse who does not want to plan, you may actually be dealing with someone who does not feel involved in the situation. You will need to ask your spouse if he feels like he wants a more active role in the budgeting process, and if he does you will need to change the way you approach the situation. Often one spouse will feel like the other is dictating all of the spending decisions to him, and he feels like a child rather than an adult in the situation. This may be true if you give him an allowance.

You can fix this problem with a change in your approach.

Solution: Start the Entire Process Over

If you are dealing with someone who doesn’t fell involved in the process, then start the entire process over. Gather together your actual bills and list your expenses and income together. Go over the bills as you do this and ask which ones could be lowered or eliminated. After you do that, you should ask your spouse to go over the spending categories you should include with the remainder of your monthly income. Once he sees the current situation, he will be more involved in the process, and it will be much easier to go over your spending each month since he participated in the plan.

Problem: Spouse Believes Everything Will Somehow Work Out

When your spouse is holding onto the belief that everything will work itself out naturally, you may have a difficult time getting her to participate in the discussion. Many dreamers are not great at planning and seem to think that if they keep working hard that everything will work out. The truth is that success comes when you have a solid clear plan that you follow and then your hard work will be effective.

Solution: Give Your Spouse a Reality Check

The best way to handle this is to do a reality check. You should talk about goals or desires that she has expressed such owning a home or traveling during retirement years and then look at your financial situation. If you can demonstrate to her whether or not you will achieve that the way you are going now, you will be able to get her on board with monthly budget discussion and a financial plan because she is working towards her goals and dreams. Sometimes it takes seeing the hard facts to wake someone up to the reality of the situation.