Financial Adjustments

The third major adjustment problem in marriage is financial. Money or lack of it has a profound influence on adult’s adjustments to marriage. Today, as a result of premarital experience in the business world, many wives resent not having control of the money needed to run a home, and they find it difficult to adjust to living on their husband’s earnings after having been accustomed to spending their own money as they wish.

Many men also find financial adjustments very difficult, particularly if the wife worked after they were married and then must stop with the arrival of the first child. Not only is their total income reduced, but the husband’s earnings must now cover a wider area of expenses.

The couple’s financial situation can pose a threat to their marital adjustments in two important areas. First, friction may develop if the wife expects her husband to share the work load. During the early years of marriage, when expensive labor-saving devices and domestic help are most needed, the family usually cannot afford such luxuries, and the wife may want her husband to help share the burden of running the home. This frequently causes friction; especially when the man considers homemaking “woman’s work.” If the wife resents the “lazy-husband syndrome,” discussed in the preceding chapter, marital adjustments can be adversely affected.

The second common threat that the couple’s financial situation poses to good marital adjustments comes from a desire to have material possessions as a stepping-stone to upward social mobility and a symbol of the family’s success. If a husband is unable to provide his wife and family with the material possessions they want, they may feel resentful of him, and a frictional attitude develops. Many wives, faced with this problem, take jobs to provide the family with such possessions. Many husbands object to this because they feel that others will think they are unable to provide for their families as well as husbands of non-working wives do.