Couples’ financial management and marital quality: A phenomenological inquiry
This study explores the link between couples’ financial management practices and their marital quality through qualitative inquiry. Six couples in their first marriage with at least one child age 18 or younger were interviewed to understand how their financial histories affect their current approach to financial management and how their financial management affects their relationships. Using Couples and Finances Theory as a conceptual framework, this phenomenological study investigates these linkages to offer implications for financial counselors and therapists. There was no one financial management technique that appeared to link consistently to quality of relationships. Rather, it appeared that underlying relationship issues and communication techniques might be more important to the couple’s relationship where financial management is more of a contextual factor to marital quality. The ways couples manage their finances are diverse, as are the impacts on relationships. Couples’ histories collide into a unique management process influenced by financial stressors, financial goals, and shared values. Implications for financial counselors include being adept to working with flexible structures. Giving couples a standard set of rules can be destructive to that couple’s financial relationship and goals. Counselors should work within the couple’s own system of operation. Recognizing that each person may have different values and working within those parameters to recognize the strengths of their goals may help counselors improve financial relationships.