Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the 3 Things that Can Ruin Your Marriage

Money, Sex and Kids

Stop Fighting About the 3 Things that Can Ruin Your Marriage

By Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.

How often have you heard yourself and your spouse make these complaints about each other?

You don’t listen.
You spend too much money.
You never want to have sex.
You’re always at work; and you never come home to spend time with your family.
You’re too harsh with the kids.
You let the kids do whatever they want.

If you and your spouse are fighting about or struggling with these issues, you are not alone. In my counseling practice, I see many couples much like you, voicing these complaints over and over.

In every marriage, the main struggles are similar. Like you, other couples also fight about money, sex and kids, with fights about territory, power and other people following close behind.

If you’re feeling tense, worried, stressed, upset, at your wit’s end, and wanting to help because you and your partner are fighting about these issues you’ll find help my book, “Money, Sex and Kids,” featured here and on the Pro Sports Lives Radio Show.

Whether you’re newly married or have been married for a long time; in your first, second or even third marriage; with kids, planning on kids or with step-kids; and from any income level — from just getting by to wealthy — you’ll find the information and techniques you need.

The 3 Big Issues: Money, Sex and Kids

Certain kinds of problems are more emotion-charged than others. I often ask my clients to stop and think about what they’re doing in the middle of a fight, and ask them what they look like to themselves. Many times they realize they sound and look like children fighting, and they’re not making sense, even to themselves. The reason most people fight about money, sex, and kids is that these are the issues with the biggest emotional charge for most people, and they carry the most baggage from our early families.

Money represents power and even attractiveness in our society. Furthermore, it may be charged with meaning doesn’t actually possess. I’ve discovered in working through these is­sues with clients that sometimes a client who grew up poor may unconsciously believe that rich people are mean or evil. Others believe that enough money will bring prestige, success and happiness.

Here are some more money issues you and your partner may fight about:
Who pays for what?
Who keeps the records, pays bills and controls the budget?
When, how and why do we spend money?
One of you wants to save; the other wants to spend.
How do you make big financial decisions?

Or, perhaps you can’t talk about money at all without arguing. If you and your partner tend to think the business end of a relationship is not a romantic topic for courtship, you may not discuss it until you can’t avoid it, and then you fight about it.

You may not think of your marriage as a business deal, but a huge part of it is just that. Just like a business, a marriage takes in income, pays expenses, and is suppose to have a little profit (savings) left over.

Couple arguing over bills

Fights about sex usually appear to be about:
How often you have it
Who initiates it?
The way your sexual needs change as your relationship grows
Fidelity and betrayal
Losing interest in each other

Sex often involves a lot of anxiety, because everyone fears rejection and is trying to live up to the impossible standards set by media images. You and your partner are most vulnerable when it comes to sex, which is why sex is difficult to keep going in a relationship, because when you get scared, you shut down and turn off. If you reject your partner just once, he or she may stop initialing or responding for fear of further rejection, until the problem is cleared up.

Sex is an extension of your couple communication, in physical rather than verbal form, and you can learn how to make it work.

Having children creates extra pressure in your relation­ship because parenting is a demanding, exacting and stressful enterprise.

Parenting requires consistency and experience, and because extended families are often living far apart, help that used to be available for previous generations from parents and siblings may not be here for you.

Parenting fights are most likely about how your parents raised you, as opposed to the way your parents’ parents raised him or her. You wind up having a power struggle about who’s right and who’s wrong, and no one can win because ifs your family history against your partner’s. In these days of divorce and remarriage, blended and step-families fight about stepchildren: who disciplines, fairness, and different parenting rules.

You and your partner may make accusations like:
You don’t help enough (or the right way) with our children.
You treat your children (or our children) better/worse than my children.
You don’t love my children the way you love your children.

You and your spouse can struggle about children before they even exist: Do we want a baby? Should we adopt? Fertility treatments can cause a lot of frustrations, sexual problems, and disappointment too.

Perhaps you had children before you had a chance to solidify your couple relationship, and the changes were confusing and you never re-established your teamwork. Or perhaps you already had children when you met and have had problems becoming an authoritative team in the kids’ eyes. Or perhaps your disagreement is about whether or not to have children. No matter what your struggle, you are not alone.

Couple Arguing

While money, sex and kids may be the three most prevalent issues that cause couple dissension, there are some other issues such as the following:

You may not feel as if you’re competing for anything, but as a human you are a territorial animal — without realizing it. You can get just as protective of your personal space, physical and psychological, as the neighborhood cats do. You’re just not as obvious about it. You are fighting for territory when you argue about these questions:

How do you handle your living space (e.g., fights about “I’m neat and you’re sloppy” or styles of furnishing)? Who cleans house or does what chores, and who sets the standards for cleaning?

How do you use time (struggles over one of you being late. the other on time)?

How do you spend your recreational time? One of you may be more social and the other more physically active or one wants to watch TV and the other wants to go out, or what you can do together or separately?

How do you divide space? Your mess is invading my space; I need alone time, and you’re always here. Or do we move for my job or yours?

Privacy is another territorial issue. Can we open one another’s mail, listen in on phone calls, do we share everything, or keep secrets?

Whenever your arguments are about these issues, your territory instincts are getting in the way of your relationship. It is how you handle these situations that make the difference.

Dating Couple Aruging

A frequent source of trouble in today’s relationships can be other people. Couples fight over whether friends can come over and when. Jealously, interference, or problems caused by relatives and in-laws, and which family can you spend holidays with are all popular subjects for fights.

In-law fights may be about, “my family is better than yours,” which is another version of, “I’m right and you’re wrong.”

It’s a power struggle.

Sometimes there’s no good reason why you’re fighting about money, sex or kids. It may be a symbolic argument. It definitely helps to let your partner know what the symbolic meaning is to you and for you to listen to your spouse’s feelings about it.

To discover what the fight is really about, you need to talk. You’ll learn techniques and discover guidelines designed to help you understand, and overcome old habits, and change the way you and your spouse relate to each other.

About the Author:

Dr Tina Tessina

Dr. Tina Tessina, Ph.D.

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in Southern. California since with over 30 years’ experience in counseling individuals and couples, and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including “It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction,” “The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again,” “Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage,” “The Commuter Marriage,” and her latest, “Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences.”

Dr. Tessina is known as “Dr. Romance” online for, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Connect with Dr. Tessina online:



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Pro Sports Wives: Signs of Domestic Abuse & Violence

Did you know domestic violence affects 1 out of 3 women worldwide? Domestic (also called spousal) abuse occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. When this domestic abuse includes physical violence OR violent threats it is referred to as domestic violence. As a [pro athlete’s] wife, it is extremely important for YOU to recognize the signs of domestic violence and abuse due to the alarming trend of offenses of male athletes.

The media has reported on countless male athletes who have perpetrated violent offenses against their wives or girlfriends. Research has not definitively proven domestic violence and abuse are higher in male athletes OR if they are highlighted because of their status. But to give you an idea of statistics, in 2010 Jeff Benedict, an English professor at Southern Virginia University released a thorough examination of arrests of professional and college athletes within a 6 month period. He found that out of 125 athletes arrested, domestic violence cases accounted for nearly 20%.

Domestic abuse often escalates from verbal abuse and threats to actual physical violence or domestic violence. Many women may not recognize abuse if it does not come in the form of physical violence. Sexual abuse is also a form of physical abuse. Emotional abuse can be just as damaging psychologically by destroying your self-worth, which leads to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Financial abuse is also a form of emotional abuse.

Below is a list of some common signs of domestic violence and abuse to raise YOUR awareness of this epidemic and how it may possibly be affecting YOU.

Signs of Domestic Violence:

Your spouse or partner:

  • Hurts you, or threatens to hurt or kill you
  • Has a bad and unpredictable tempter
  • Forces you to have sex
  • Destroys your belongings
  • Threatens to take your children away

Signs of Abuse:


  • Feel afraid most of the time around your partner
  • Are regularly humiliated or yelled at by your partner
  • Are criticized and put down by your partner
  • Are blamed for your partner’s own abusive behavior
  • Are kept from seeing your friends or family
  • Have limited access to money, the phone, or the car
Porsha Williams, LAMFT Pwilliams@

Porsha Jones, LAMFT

*All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness of information or opinions expressed on this site or following links.

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Former NFL Commish vacates ‘bounty-gate’ bans

Citing “contamination” by the coaches and others in the New Orleans’ Saints organization, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated the suspensions of the four Saints and former Saints who had been issued bans by current commissioner Roger Goodell. Continue reading

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Was Colorado coach Jon Embree’s firing racially motivated?

Colorado Buffaloes’ head coach Jon Embree was fired Sunday, only two years into a five-year deal he signed back in December of 2010. Speculation has run rampant that Embree was fired so abruptly because of his skin color. Continue reading

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Cut by Eagles, Jason Babin now a Jaguar

It doesn’t get any simpler than that headline. One day after being released by the Philadelphia Eagles, Jason Babin has been claimed off waivers by the 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars.

Babin has been having a miserable season after registering a career-high 18 sacks last year. Babin has only been able to register 5.5 sacks after 11 games with the Eagles this season. He had almost twice as many sacks by this time last year. Continue reading

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Another win, another Falcons’ player arrested

It’s obvious the Atlanta Falcons don’t deal well with success. Last week running back Michael Turner was arrested for DUI following Atlanta’s win over the Denver Broncos, this week defensive end John Abraham joins him in the ink blotter.

Abraham was arrested Monday on two counts of obstruction and was confined to the Fulton County Jail. His bail was set at $7,000. Continue reading

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Prototype, smototype: Seahawks’ Russell Wilson can play

Five NFL teams have given the keys to their offenses to a rookie quarterback. Now while all five of these rookies have some things in common there is one thing about Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson that stands out more than the others: his height.

Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill are both 6-4, Brandon Weeden is 6-3. Rookie sensation Robert Griffin III is 6-2 which is usually the minimal height scouts and football experts expect a quarterback to be in order to be successful in the NFL but Wilson is only 5-11. Continue reading

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Falcons RB Michael Turner arrested for DUI after win

Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner is having his worst season statistically since joining the Falcons back in 2008. Early Tuesday morning, Turner added to his on-field struggles with an off-the-field incident.

Only hours after the Falcons Monday night defeat of the Denver Broncos, Turner would be arrested for driving under the influence and speeding on Interstate 85 northeast of Atlanta. He was pulled over for driving 97 mph in a 65-mph zone.

Turner failed a sobriety after being pulled over by a Gwinnett County officer and was confined to the Gwinnett County metro jail until he was able to make bail.

Turner not only has to face DUI charges, he may also face a suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his actions. Hope the celebration was worth it because his pockets will definitely be a little lighter once this situation is concluded.

Roosevelt Hall is a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He is also an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He can be contacted at and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.

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RG3 impresses in NFL debut

Robert Griffin III didn’t take long to make a splash in the NFL. Of the record five rookie quarterbacks who started for their teams during Week 1, Griffin was the only one who was able to deliver a win for his team.

Griffin had the best day ever for a rookie quarterback starting in his first ever NFL game. He led the Washington Redskins to a 40-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints by completing 19 of his 26 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Continue reading

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A tribute to Reggie Miller

Shooting guard Reggie Miller was a force for the Indiana Pacers for 18 seasons. During that time he filled up highlight reels with his clutch shooting, his most notable moments coming against the New York Knicks.

Miller was a scoring machine who could get hot at almost any moment during a game but he always seemed to save his best for the game’s final minutes. Continue reading

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