Managing your own money can be challenging. Adding a partner to the mix can take that challenge to the next level.
I love marriage. But we’ve had periods that were difficult in how we handled money. And when money conversations become contentious, this can lead to more significant problems between you and your partner.
And this isn’t about being fake or pretending that things are great when they aren’t. The goal is to have a healthy marriage and have your money work best for both of you.
You don’t want money to be a sore subject in your household.
Communicating about Money in Your Marriage is Vital
The first step is to make sure you and your spouse are communicating with each other about your finances.
Think of your marriage like a partnership. The more you can be on the same page and work through differences, the more successful you will become.
It starts by building a level of trust with each other. It’s about showing each other that you are on the same team. The more honest and open you can become with each other, the less likely money discussions will get nasty.
Communication is going to look different for each marriage. For us, we like to have a weekly meeting to talk about our personal finances. This conversation allows us to talk about things before they grow into larger problems. We talk about how the budget is doing, and priorities for the week (even when they aren’t money related).
Create a Budget Together
You need to have some way of tracking your spending and making sure the bills are covered. Managing a budget in your marriage together helps make sure your priorities are aligned.
Most of us aren’t sitting on massive amounts of cash, where we can spend however much we want and not have to worry about cash flow.
You need to take control of your money and dictate how it should be spent. A budget lets you make sure your spending and savings are aligned with your goals. You can decide what categories you want to cut back on, or areas that you want to have a little more margin. There is not a right or wrong way to manage a budget being married.
Marriage and money problems can be hard to work through when priorities are not clearly defined.
Some couples keep their finances separate. Others like to have everything come into one pot to make it simpler to manage. Regardless of the budgeting method you land on, the main thing is that you are talking about your finances and creating a system that works best for you.
Financial Future and Goals
Talking about the future is exciting. New opportunities can emerge.
By talking about the future together, you can see where both of your dreams line up. Do both of you want to do more traveling in the future? If you had enough money to quit your job, what would you do with your time?
And once you land on how you want your future to look, you can then figure out if your financial projection is pointing towards your goals.
It isn’t that both of you need to have the same hopes and dreams, but it is good to know what your partner dreams about, and how your aspirations overlap. Thinking about the future of your marriage will help you create a plan and figure out how you are going to get there.
When you think about your dreams together, this promotes intimacy. I’ve never had a conversation where we talked about the future and didn’t leave ecstatic about the possibilities.
We all mess up and make mistakes. People sometimes don’t live up to our expectations.
When we become ultra-critical of our spouse, this often leads to them becoming defensive. Emotional walls start forming, and trust evaporates. And once this starts to happen, it can be difficult to fix the damage.
By learning to be kind to each other, everything becomes easier, including how money conversations play out.
For example, I went to the grocery store the other day and spent more than we had left in our groceries budget. Instead of my wife getting angry, we talked about which budget category we were going to transfer from to cover the cost. It would have been easy for her to become angry and frustrated. Instead of her becoming angry, we worked on a solution, and our marriage became stronger.
Especially if you are a critical thinker, it can be easy to overreact in money situations. Sure, there are going to be issues that are a much bigger deal (like randomly coming home with a new car). But most things aren’t going to be that massive.
This is related to communication, but it deserves its’ own section. A healthy marriage is built on trust, and that requires 100% honesty.
When we hide things from our spouse, we are not acting like we are on the same team. If I purchase something I know my wife doesn’t want me to have, this is a recipe for disaster. How is she going to feel about me hiding this purchase? How would I feel if she did the same thing?
Even if I don’t agree with my spouse about something, it is better to talk through that issue instead of going behind her back and doing something I know she isn’t going to like. Sometimes it might mean that one of us ends up compromising.
It’s amazing how much being honest with each other can improve communication. When you know there is nothing each of you is hiding from the other, you are less likely to become defensive, and your marriage becomes stronger.
Most often, marriage money problems are a sign communication isn’t healthy or clear between both partners.
Money is a tool that should make our lives better, not add additional stress. Learning to work together in managing a budget makes sure your spending matches your future. When our partner messes up, the more grace we can extend, the more likely they will be 100% honest with us. All of this promotes a healthy marriage, and money discussions become less stressful.