When I tell people that I am a marriage counselor that specializes in working with couples and their money, I usually get one of two responses. The first is diving straight into the details of theirmarriage and financial lives and some specific event that happened to them.
The other is a more cautious response. It goes something like, “We are really fortunate. We get along well on that page.” Then there’s a positive explanation about how good things are. As I listen for a bit, I acknowledge and say that is wonderful.
Recently I was talking with a doctor who thought my work was really interesting, and he said he and his wife get along well in that department. He went on to say “We are blessed”. To which I responded great not expecting much after that. Then came the exception, he said my wife thinks I have too much insurance. I think oh, is that so? Now this was a social setting so I did not get into the details, but this is one of many examples of what I hear once someone feels safe enough to share with me about their life. The reality is that we all have financial sticking points in our marriages. So the question becomes, are these sticking points driving a wedge into your relationship with your spouse? Is it affecting your ability to enjoy each other’s company?
Most couples can navigate a few minor disagreements, but stack a few together and the stress increases. The reality is that there is often both an emotional cost and a financial cost when it comes to financial differences.
In the case of the insurance for this spouse, it was a common source of tension. Even if for this doctor he is spending $200 a month in extra premium for insurance that is not necessary—that adds up to $2,400 a year. Peace of mind just became more expensive for this couple. But the bigger question becomes why is this insurable risk so important to the person?
Without knowing the details, we could assume that it was a disability policy that the doctor has. But the policy might not be technically necessary for a number of reasons. Beneath the surface of that decision the doctor’s father became disabled at a young age, and that memory lays in the back of his brain about the need for disability insurance. Perhaps this is not a connection that he has made, but it then becomes a clear explanation about his desire to have more disability insurance than would normally be reasonable. Further yet, the disability was caused by a motorcycle accident. The doctor does not even own a motorcycle and won’t ride one. So does he really need this disability policy? Perhaps not. Hopefully this demonstrates that insurance policies can become about meeting more of an emotional need than a financial need. Yet if we remain overly-insured based on subjective needs, then we may be cutting off cash flow that could be used to allocate towards other important goals for the family.
Author: Ed Coambs MBA, MA, CFP®, LMFTA