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Financial Hardship among married spouses Issue and Prospects

Marriage is coming together of two people in a religious sacrament. After coming in to the marriage the persons have rights and obligations towards each other. Marriage is a union of two souls. The supreme gave this definition of marriage in the case of A. Jayachandra v. Aneel Kaur.[1]

The union of a man with a woman to the exclusion of all others, satisfied by the solemnization of the marriage in accordance with requisite ceremonies, and it directly creates a relation between the parties and that is called the status of each.[2] Marriage is an institution which is the foundation of the family and of the society, is basic to morality and civilization and therefore, is of vital interest to society and the states.[3] It confers a status of husband and wife on parties to the marriage, and status of legitimacy of the children of marriage.[4]

Marriage just not means a married woman and man living together. It also means that they living together happily. Understating, proper communication, dealing hardships together are the things which become necessary when the two souls become one. One of the hardships that married spouses face is financial hardships. Since time immemorial money has been a symbol of status. Nowadays couples feel this hardship because the financial status is not able to match up with the desires of human being. A newly wedded couple may face financial hardship when it comes to purchasing a house if the financial condition of that couple is not so good. When a baby is born a middle class couple starts thinking that will they be able to meet up the requirement of their child?

The above background serves as a base for this article. Just like these there are many financial hardships that a couple faces which will be analysed and discusses by the author in the article. The article also attempts to deal with the solutions which couples can go for in case of financial hardships.

Financial History of Married Spouses

It is very well researched by different authors that a man and a woman after marriage tend to organize their financial expense and sharing in a way they used to do when they were not married. For this reason the financial history holds the relevance in this research topic. There is importance of discussing money at every stage of a couple’s relationship.[5] The adjustment of money by husband and wife tend to originally appear from the previous experiences when they were not married.[6] The family is the first phase from where an individual learns to spend and save money. Hence, it becomes an important part in learning of an individual about spending and saving money. This serves as a basis when individual marries and gets the responsibility of how to manage finance of his or her married life.

As the family develops it demands reassessment at each developing family level.[7] Each stage requires more and more of proper maintained budget because the income may remain constant but the wants and desires of an individual increase. The example of financial hardship can be seen in cases where a woman who belongs from a rich family gets married to a middle class man. All of the needs of that woman cannot be met by man’s income. Hence financial history becomes important. The solution for this problem can be the understanding between husband and wife where she can cut the expenses on the things which are not so important for her.

Financial Hardships Faced By Married Spouses

A happily married life is all what all couples desire of. Money plays an important role in marriage. If financial needs are not fulfilled then it causes financial conflict. Financial conflict may also reflect hidden relationship issues. Hidden relationship issues are the unexpressed needs and feelings that, if not attended to, can cause great damage to ones marriage. Such issues may include power, commitment, respect, and fairness.

These issues may manifest themselves as financial conflict if they lead couples to disagree about the best way to use their financial resources.
The recession that started in 2008 has demonstrated the many financial difficulties that may affect families. Job loss, home foreclosure, lack of credit access, high levels of investment portfolio loss, and fuel and food price inflation, have all hit many families over the past several years. Financial difficulties may be one of the most straightforward reasons that couples fight over money. That is, as couples face financial difficulties, they increasingly fight about money.[8]

Financial hardships may lead to financial conflict. Financial conflict in turn may lead to depression, divorce, anxiety and hostility between the spouses. This increased effect of conflict may lead to decreased marital quality. The common problems that couples may face after marriage are:

  1. When they go to purchase house after their marriage.
  2. When the society pressure is so big that they tend to save money or spend more than what is required.
  3. When it comes to handling the budget.

1.3 Financial Hardships Reflecting Hidden Marriage Issues

Financial conflict is not only predicted by economic pressure and communication. Relationship issues such as communication, fairness, respect get affected because of financial conflict.[9] Money is the major issue of these hidden issues in relationships. Other family therapists have confirmed this sentiment.[10] These issues are very much challenging and are difficult to resolve. Issues may be difficult to resolve because each spouse has his or her own way of looking at spending the money. Power, fairness, commitment can be the hidden issue in a relationship. Power imbalance in a relationship might provoke financial conflict.

There are some cases where even if inequality occurs, if spouses are fine by that then there is no chance of changing the dynamics of relationship. Thus, we expect that proxies of financial equality and reports of relationship fairness will be negatively associated with reports of financial conflict. Commitment may be associated with hidden issues. Couples who are committed to make their relationship work are engaged in opening saving bank account.[11] Signals of commitment to staying in the marriage may allow couples to fight less.

On the other hand, couples who fight about finances may be fighting about concerns over commitment, rather than about the actual management of their finances. For example, commitment issues may underlie fights over whether or not to join their finances.[12] Thus, we expect commitment to be negatively associated with financial conflict. Finally, feelings of receiving little respect from one’s spouse may be associated with financial conflict. If an individual feels that they receive little respect from their spouse, they may use financial conflict as a way to fight about these deeper issues.

More directly, some individuals, both men and women, may tie feelings of self-worth to their prowess as providers. If they do not feel that they receive the respect and appreciation from their spouse for these provider efforts, this may cause problems in the relationship. Alternatively, if one spouse loses the ability to provide, they may lose respect from their spouse. Increased financial conflict may result. Thus, we expect that reports of receiving respect from their spouse will be negatively associated with financial conflict. These were some of the hidden issues which arise from the financial hardships faced by married spouses.

View of Supreme Court & Other Courts With Reference To Financial Hardships Faced By Married Spouses

Study has shown that financial hardships among married spouses can lead to mental cruelty which can be a condition of divorce under Section 13(1)(a) of Hindu Marriage Act 1955.[13] In the leading case of Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh,[14] the Supreme Court laid down the grounds for cruelties and financial hardships can be a case for mental cruelty as a ground for divorce. The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010, proposed that under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and the Special Marriage Act 1954 there should be a ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage for divorce, provided that the wife has a right to oppose such petition on the grounds of grave financial hardship. The maintenance of children born out of the marriage should be consistent with the financial capacity of the parties to the marriage.

The Bill also provides that after filing for divorce by mutual consent, the six months waiting period should be done away with. The Bill for Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage was introduced in Parliament in 2013 addressing many of the problems of the 2010 bill. However, due to the some of the reasons it lapsed.[15]

There had been cases where when one of the spouses was financially, physically and mentally harassed by the other spouse, the harassed one can file a petition for divorce. In the leading case of Naveen Kohli v. Neetu Kohli[16] the husband was mentally and financially harassed by the wife.

Thus, we see here an example where financial hardship had led to filing of petition for divorce. Sometimes married spouses may fight when there comes a difference of interest in financially maintaining their parents. In the leading case of Vasant v. Govindrao Upasrao Naik,[17] Criminal Revision Application No. 172/2014, the Bombay High Court held that married daughters who have financial capacity are also obligated to maintain their own parents.

The Court specifically talked about maintaining parents financially if daughter has financial capacity to do so. In the case when a married spouse has a baby and if both the spouses are earning then the financial responsibility of the child should be shared by both the parents.[18]

In the case of Santhini v. Vijay Venketesh,[19] the court discussed about financial hardships faced by couple. The Court also discussed about the financial hardships in the case of Suvarna Rahul Musale v. Rahul Prabhakar Musale,[20] faced by a couple when she had to travel from US to India for some legal proceeding. Court also provided financial relief to the people who face financial hardships like in the case of Krishna Veni Nagam v. Harish Nagam[21]. Thus, these were the cases where the courts took into account the financial hardships faced by married spouses and the author has mentioned the case laws where the courts mentioned it so.

Economic Management Which Married Spouses Can Adopt

The author had dealt with the financial issues and hardships that married spouses face in their married life. Having discussed the issues, now the author will focus upon the management or the solutions which the couple can adopt to overcome the financial hardships. The couples with mutual understanding may go for joint or separate bank account or can choose a partial pooling method.[22] The second aspect can be financial planning.

The couple can plan their financial budget in keeping each other views. If the financial planning in a family is well organized then there are lesser chances of financial hardships. Cutting off the expenses on unnecessary things can also be one of the ways of managing the money. For example, in contemporary world where women are very much fond of shopping, the sale attracts their attention and they unnecessary spend the money there which they could have saved for some future use. The other management of money can be in the cases for example where a couple thought of purchasing the new car, instead of giving the amount in one go, couples can go for the payment in installments.

Discussion between the married spouses on managing money should also be one of the criteria in this case. Spouses should know about the debts of each other and in case any kind of debt is there, then they should plan their financial budget accordingly. Hence, these are the methods which couple can adopt in case of financial hardships.

The author after researching within the scope and limitations of the topic arrives at a conclusion that if the married spouses manage their financial budget economically then there would be lesser hardships faced by them. Proper communication, understanding and mutual co-operation is so much necessary in a relationship in case of managing the budget of the family also. By these ways there would be nothing hidden between the spouses and they would be able to share each and everything related financial affairs. Financial management, shared values help in dealing with financial hardships.

There are some factors which originate just because of financial hardships they are like stress, depression, anxiety, lack of communication between the married spouses. Hence, in conclusion there is need to resolve financial hardships using the points mentioned by the author in the last chapter of the research because it not the one problem among the married spouses, other problems also germinate from this hardship.

The author’s analysis is based upon the kind of research she conducted and what loopholes she found out. The financial hardships faced by the married spouses would not have been the problem if they were educated enough. Research has shown that if both the spouses are earning then the financial hardships faced by the spouses are lesser. Now coming to the case where both the spouses are earning but then too there is financial hardships, this problem can be solved by mutual money management, mutual understanding and co-operation. The ratio of population and job is not good.

There are people who are highly educated but then too they are unemployed or not working at a position where they deserve to be. This is all because of the shortage of jobs in our country. This is the biggest reason of financial hardships faced by married spouses in some of the cases. In the end, solution to financial hardship would improve the marital quality because there are many kinds of things associated with the financial hardships which are known as hidden issues. The solution to financial hardships among married spouses would be the solution to hidden issues as well.


  1. Paras Diwan and Peeyushi Diwan, FAMILY LAW, 4th ed. 1998, Allahabad Law Agency, Allahabad.
  2. Sir Dinshaw Fardunji Mulla, HINDU LAW, 23rd ed. 2018, LexisNexis.
  3. Vijender Kumar (rev.), J.D. Mayne, HINDU LAW & USAGE, 17th ed.2014, Bharat Law House, New Delhi.
  4. Satyajeet A. Desai (rev.), D.F. Mulla, HINDU LAW, 23rd ed.2018, LexisNexis, New Delhi.
  5. Manjit Singh Nijjar, NULLITY OF MARRIAGE UNDER HINDU LAW, 1st ed.1994, Deep and Deep publications, New Delhi.


  1. Shaprio M, Money: A therapeutic tool for couples therapy, NCBI.
  2. Sabatelli R.M. and Bartle- Haring S., Family of origin experiences and adjustment in married couples, Journal of Marriage and Family.
  3. Jenkins and Stantley, You paid how much for that: How to win at money without losing at love, Journal of family and law.
  4. Kenney, The power of the purse: Allocation systems and inequality in couple households, Gender & Society.

Newspaper Articles

  1. Riju Mehta, Money & Relationships: What you should do if your husband doesn’t share financial details, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, Kanpur, Monday, February 11, 2019.
  2. Stephen Little, Money worries biggest reasons for marriage ending: Survey finds, THE BUSINESS NEWS, London, Monday, January 8, 2018.

Internet Sources

  1. LexisNexis
  2. SCC Online
  3. CaseMine
  4. LegitQuest

[1] AIR 2005 SC 534.
[2] S.A. Desai (ed.), D.F. Mulla, PRINCIPLES OF HINDU LAW, 19th ed. 2005, p. 7.
[3] 52 Am.Jur, 2nd (1970) pp. 866-67.
[4] Paras Diwan, Hindu Law, 1981, p.75.
[5] Shaprio M, Money: A therapeutic tool for couples therapy, NCBI, p.279-91.
[6] Sabatelli R.M. and Bartle- Haring S., Family of origin experiences and adjustment in married couples, Journal of Marriage and Family, p.159-165.
[7] Shaprio M, Money : A therapeutic tool for couples therapy, NCBI, p.279-91.
[8] Jenkins and Stantley, You paid how much for that: How to win at money without losing at love, Journal of family and law, p621-23.
[9] Jenkins and Stantley, You paid how much for that: How to win at money without losing at love, Journal of family and law, p645-46.
[10] Shaprio M, Money : A therapeutic tool for couples therapy, NCBI, p.259-61.
[11] Kenney, The power of the purse: Allocation systems and inequality in couple households, Gender & Society, p354–81.
[12] Jenkins and Stantley, You paid how much for that: How to win at money without losing at love, Journal of family and law, p643-44.
[13] Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
[14] 2007(4) SCC 511.
[15] Reform on family law, Law Commission of India, October 2018, p. 29.
[16] AIR 2006 SC 1675.
[17] (2017) 1 HLR 169.
[18] Reform on family law, Law Commission of India 2018, p83.
[19] (2018) 1 SCC 1.
[20] (2015) 7 Bom CR 608.
[21] (2017) 4 SCC 150.
[22] Addo, F. R. and Sassler, Financial arrangements and relationship quality in low income couples, Family Relations, p 408-423.

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