There’s no question that finances can put a strain on more than just your budget: money can affect your marriage and family life too. In fact, it's the number one issue that couples argue about. Consequently, financial stress is frequently cited as a cause of relationship difficulties. Many couples feel that if they only had a higher income, they wouldn’t have to deal with money problems in their relationship. But the truth is that financial disagreements between couples happen at every income level and often mirror other disagreements in the relationship. The issue isn’t the amount of money you have, it’s about how the two of you work together to manage that money.

Communication is one of the most important tools you can employ to ensure that your marriage is proof against financial difficulty. It’s important for you and your spouse to be open with each other about your financial goals, how you feel about money, and your motives for earning, spending, or saving. When discussing money matters, it's tempting to move into 'business mode' and dig your heels in. But successful relationships involve talking about money with the same care and kindness one might apply to any other conversation. In a relationship, you should be able to say anything, but the WAY you say it matters most of all. Consider softening your approach and using kind and considerate language as much as possible.

Although it can be tempting to have only one person manage the finances, there are many benefits to working together on money matters. Sit down together and look at your income and spending habits. Discuss where you feel your expenses are reasonable and where you feel like you’re spending too much or too little until you come to an agreement about how much should be spent in each category.

Based on your discussion, create a budget. This can be weekly or monthly—whatever the two of you feel is best for your financial situation. Make sure you include savings in your budget. It doesn’t matter if it’s a percentage or dollar amount, but setting aside money on a regular basis can help alleviate financial stress in the future.

The hardest part can be sticking to the budget and goals you’ve set—so stay accountable to each other. Keep getting together regularly to assess how your plan is working and if you need to make adjustments.

Although money can be a tricky subject, you can alleviate much of the financial strain on your marriage by communicating, working together, and setting goals. Making a commitment to each other that you will work together to manage financial challenges can make your relationship stronger and more meaningful, regardless of your income or financial circumstances.