I have a great marriage. It’s not perfect by any means, but Kim and I generally get along and like each other (as far as I know lol). I want to be in this marriage until death do us part.
We all probably know or know of someone that is fed up with their marriage. They have a “just in case we divorce” fund on the side that their spouse doesn’t know about. I’ve even heard of spouses taking consulting jobs (I’m in the IT industry) that require tons of travel because they DON’T want to be around their spouse. Or the spouse that stays in the marriage because their partner makes good money and they don’t want to give up the lifestyle.
If you don’t believe me go to TrueWifeConfession.com. This is a blog dedicated to giving (women in particular) a place to confess how they are feeling in their marriage. I read a few of these and one really resonated with me. It’s short but really gets to the point of this post…
“I can’t live like this. I can’t live being made to feel inferior. I don’t care that we’re broke, I don’t care that we’re homebodies. I just need respect. I need to be treated like I matter. I don’t need us to make more money, I’m fine with where we are…I don’t need more date nights or more dinners out. I need you to SEE me. I can’t be invisible anymore. You’re breaking me. I have so little left to give. You can have it all…every last scrap of me. But I cannot live like this. I CAN. NOT. LIVE THIS WAY. Please…come back to me. I miss you so badly it hurts. Come back to us….I know we have your body but we need your spirit and love. Come home.”
There are so many posts like this. It’s amazing how many reference money, communication, and compromise. Just from this post, all three are referenced:
- ” I don’t care that we’re broke…”
- “I don’t need us to make more money..”
- “I just need respect.”
- “I need to be treated like I matter.”
- “I miss you so badly it hurts.”
- “I know we have your body but we need your spirit and love.”
When I wasn’t tuned into this money stuff the first question I would ask is, “What the hell does money have to do with compromise and communication?” Money is unique in that it touches every area of our life to some degree.
If you go to any marriage counselor and ask them what the first order of business is when counseling a couple they will tell you money. Not religion, not kids, not in laws, not politics. Money.
I have a very simple outlook on marriage that most people tend to agree with: Love is the emotional fuel of marriage but communication and compromise are the grind of it. Money can wreck a marriage or it can mend years of attrition. How? Through sitting down with your spouse and deciding where you will spend your money.
Learning to Communicate and Compromise
I promise you I’m not crazy! Remember when I said earlier that money is unique in that it touches every area of your life? So if you can learn to communicate and compromise about money then communicating and compromising about other things should become easier as well, right? Of course I’m talking about doing a budget and doing it TOGETHER.
Income is finite. We can’t create money out of thin air like the Federal Reserve. That means, together as a couple, you need to decide how that income is going to be spent. Even though you’re married you are still individuals. That means both of you have things that are important to you in the short term and long term.
Because income is finite these separate lists need to be discussed, prioritized and planned for. Obviously, there are going to be some common goals that are shared between you and your spouse’s list but even with those goals, you may not agree on when and how to accomplish them. Can you start to see why the budget meeting is the perfect place to strengthen communication in a relationship?
Kim and I bought a fixer upper back in 2013. The “bones” of our house is beautiful but it was dated. Really dated! We knew it would take a lot of time to make it our own. Kim wanted to update everything. The floors throughout, the bathrooms, and the kitchen. Everything! This was her big goal for our home.
My big goal, for 7 or 8 years now, has been to pay off our home. This was actually my dream before us being married or owning a home!
As you can see there is a conflict here. The one thing the both of us agree on is that we don’t like focusing on two things at once. We pick one financial goal and budget huge amounts of cash towards it to finish it off. Then we move towards the next goal. With that off the table who’s goal do we focus on first? Mine or hers?
Well, we talked it through and decided that updating the kitchen would take less time and money. Once the house is updated we would start throwing extra towards the mortgage. It’s not a matter of if we’ll start paying off the mortgage early. It’s a matter of when.
Ahhhhhh….my favorite part about budgeting! Kim and I have been budgeting together for about 5 years now. It literally takes 5 or 10 minutes to do our budget. As good as we are at this personal finance stuff we still disagree and fight about it.
When this happens it’s a good idea to take a break, let the emotions simmer down, and discuss it with cooler heads. It isn’t fun but, looking back, I think fighting has been where we’ve made the most progress.
Fight fairly and remember to respect each other’s positions but stand up for what you believe in. In the end, the goal is to try to make your lives better. That is a goal that is always worth fighting for.