Getting married is a life-altering decision that one must take while keeping in mind their financial stability. Marriage changes every aspect of your life, and that includes monetary facets. Money and marriage can be like oil and water if you fail to be cautious about your expenditures.
Financial compatibility, or lack thereof, is something a lot of couples overlook before getting married. Whether you are getting married for the first time or the second or third, always make sure to sit down with your would-be partner to discuss marriage finances to fully understand how to deal with money issues in a relationship.
Money and relationships need to be handled with the utmost care. There are some conversations one must have before taking the next step in a relationship, and money is certainly one of them. Money issues in marriage can lead to a lot of problems down the lane. Different attitudes toward spending and saving can pose a challenge after marriage. When handled the right way, money and marriage can coexist well.
It takes compromise and wisdom, in equal parts, from both spouses to tread that fine line of monetary harmony in a marriage. But if you’re reading this with the hope that there’s a mantra that can radically alter your spouse’s approach toward finances, you might end up disappointed. The crux of the matter is that people don’t change. But that doesn’t mean differences cannot be resolved. Let’s talk about money and marriage, and how to deal with money issues in a relationship. I have my two cents to give and a story to share.
Tips For Money Management In Marriage
Before you get swept up in the heady rush of the perfect wedding day, it’s vital to ask your future spouse the right questions before marriage. These include questions such as how to manage money in marriage when your views on financial management are polar opposites, how can money problems in marriage be dealt with, and how to ensure that they do not spell doom for the relationship.
Take a deep breath. Inhale…exhale…good! Now there’s no reason to get ahead of yourself. Many couples before you have faced this exact problem, and they are doing beautifully in their marriages. The task may seem daunting, but the antidote to financial disharmony is in the following steps:
Related Reading: Love Vs Money: Choosing Love Over Materialism
1. Mutual understanding
If you feel like your partner isn’t spending much or you suspect them of being stingy or miser, sit down and clear the air. Is this their outlook toward money? Or is this restraint a result of monetary problems in their life at the moment? Or do they feel that there is a money imbalance in this relationship? What if they have some unpaid debt? If that’s the case, then you need to keep your finances separate.
You can do your part by helping your partner out but you can’t take the responsibility of clearing their debts all on your own. Sit down and come to a mutual consensus on how to go about this. You can overcome anything by communicating the right way and making an effort to understand each other’s points of view.
2. Don’t go above and beyond for wedding preparations
Some people spend all their savings on wedding functions without giving a thought to the future. How are you going to deal with any unforeseen expenditures or a financial crisis if you spend all your savings on one event ? The better approach would be to earmark a portion of your respective savings for the wedding festivities – perhaps, 10% of your combined income – so that you’re well-equipped to build a comfortable life for yourself as a newly married couple.
If you want to go on a honeymoon after the wedding, then pitch in jointly toward the expenditure just as you have done for the wedding. Or maybe you want to move together to a new house and it’s wise to save money for the down payment. Financial planning for newly wed couples must begin well before they tie the knot. So make sure you chalk out some time to discuss this aspect of your life together.
3. Budget planning
Budget planning is the answer to how to deal with money issues in a relationship. Couples with money sometimes go overboard with their spending. It’s high time you get talking about all your shopping bills, dinner bills and other expenses.
Calculate how much each of you spends per month and how much you will potentially spend after marriage. If your expenses as a couple are well within your spending abilities, then you’ve nothing to worry about. Perhaps, you can even start talking about investments and savings right from the get-go. But if the expenses exceed your range and limit, then you might have to strike down and eliminate a few unnecessary things.
4. Ask important questions
There are many important questions about money and marriage that you must address. Should you or should you not combine your money with your partner’s? Are the two of you capable of taking care of your financial needs? If one party is dependent on another, then this question becomes moot.
But it does give rise to another important question: how will expenses and savings be managed on a single income? How much will the earning partner spare each month for the needs of the non-earning partner? On the flip side, if both partners are financially stable and independent, they need to consider whether to merge their finances and to what extent. One of the best financial advice for couples is to open a joint account and set a spending limit on it to keep their month-on-month expenses under control.
5. Be respectful toward their expenses
Even if you can’t understand what drives your partner’s spending, you can be accommodating and respectful of it to a healthy extent. Similarly, your better half ought to be supportive of your spending and saving habits. Meeting in the middle is very important to strike a balance, otherwise money issues can ruin a relationship. Consider all these options and see what works best for you depending on your lifestyle.
Today I have an inspiring story to share. It’s the journey of Erica and Ryan as they navigated money management in their marriage. Their journey together might give you the perspective you need. Keep reading to find out how handling finances in a marriage works.
Related Reading: Does It Help To Talk About Mutual Finances Before Marriage?
What’s all this about a music system?
When the “I pay all the bills in my marriage” aspect comes in, it becomes a major source of conflict in a relationship. But in our case, this issue became an even bigger monster because we had completely opposed notions about how to spend money. He loved spending on material goods, while I believed in spending on experiences. And thence began our money problems in marriage.
My husband loved music and was keen on having a nice system. I believed that music could be heard on a small, low-budget system. Major discussions/arguments took place before we went shopping. We had some money from the wedding gifts, which we intended to use for setting up our new home, and we decided to use a small portion of that amount for the system.
But for more than a year, we lived with only a large music system sitting nicely in a corner of our hall; all our money went toward it. I was aghast. After all, music would be the same even if listened to on a smaller system and I just could not understand why he needed such a pricey one.
“Music needs to be heard on a system with a high-end amplifier to get the right quality of sound,” he tried to justify himself. To me, it sounded no different from any small system. That music system became representative of the strife in our relationship and a chronic source of fights and arguments. Sometimes these fights become more important than our marriage.
Tit for tat
It was on our vacation to Miami that my husband got a chance to get back at me. The moment we checked into our hotel, I booked a daylong spa; a little expensive but these kinds of luxuries are necessary to keep your body charged. My husband did not understand. ”Why spend such a huge amount on just getting your body massaged?” he wanted to know.
I tried explaining, “Just the way you need a high-end music system to get the right tone, I need a spa treatment in these sophisticated places to get the right result.” He refused to understand where I was coming from because to him a spa was a one-time thing. Gadgets, on the other hand, were an investment.
It’s a different matter that, in the end, I persuaded him to join me for the spa, with the bill doubling. Over the years, money in marriage remained a touchy issue for us, waiting to erupt whenever we disagreed with each other’s spending tendencies. Finances after marriage are certainly tricky to handle.
No change per se but compromising for sure
Now after almost 2 decades of marriage, things remain the same. He continues to be a ‘things’ person, while I am more an ‘experiences’ person. We may have rubbed off a little on each other in our own ways but our basic nature remains the same. Nothing changed even after so many years.
Nothing does change… The conflict continues but you start being considerate toward each other’s interests. Today if I have money and I need to buy a gift for Ryan, I would surely pick an expensive perfume, a pen, or some high-end gadget. If he has to buy me a gift, maybe he would book a luxury vacation, a spa, or a nice date at a coffee shop.
The point is that we know what makes the other happy and we are willing to take that step even if it does not fit into our idea of spending. Not that we have changed in any way; it is just a desire to keep the other happy and that is the biggest key to a happy relationship.
Whenever I find myself a part of a discussion on how to manage money in marriage, I tell people to hold on to their core values while simultaneously being conscious of their partner’s needs. (And this is one of the best money and marriage tips you should hold on to.) Setting priorities in a relationship is vital.
Moreover, money problems in a marriage are healthy if not stretched too far. For instance, in our marriage, it is because of our conflicting views on the right things to spend money on that we get to enjoy both sides of life: I enjoy the material things he buys and he enjoys the lovely experiences I plan. In a sense, we balance each other out perfectly.
Money And Marriage Tips – Walk The Middle Path
However, I will say that it does take a lot of effort and understanding before you reach this level. The attitude of each individual toward money is rooted in family background, experiences in life, etc. The conflict between us was not about money, it was a conflict of temperament.
So before taking a stand about you being ‘right’ and ‘attacking’ your partner, try understanding and then work out a middle path. The middle path or the golden mean of bliss that Buddha talked about could be different for different people. Handle the differences in a mature way, or create a big problem; it depends on your willingness to adjust.
Being on the same side of the fence sounds ideal, but how do you play without an opponent? Man and woman are born opposites and will remain so. Marriage is all about having an opponent, but there is no medal. You keep playing with your adversary knowing full well that there are no prizes. So go ahead, choose a lovely opponent and keep playing. As Osho said, “Without marriage, there will be no misery – and no laughter either.”
(Names changed to protect identities)
The key to solving money problems in marriage is understanding and compromise. Our tendencies and behaviors are a product of our environment. Acknowledge where your partner is coming from, and meet them halfway. Encourage them to do the same with you. Once you grasp each other’s tendencies and respect them, it will get easier!
While it certainly plays a crucial role in a relationship by determining the quality of life, it is not THE most important thing. Qualities like trust, friendship, love, and care are essential, and they can be used to overcome financial conflicts in a marriage. A good spouse should complement you emotionally because an understanding between you two is above everything else.
It is as important as love. Some will argue my point is wrong but those are the ones who have a lot of money and don’t have to think twice before buying something. If you are a hardworking individual who has to provide for a family, then money is as important as love in a marriage.
Of course, it can. As long as the two people involved don’t lose their trust and faith in each other, they can come out of any difficult situation holding each other’s hands. Being wise about financial expenditure and sticking through thin and thin is what makes a marriage sustainable and strong.
Sometimes it can. If you love your partner irrespective of their income and financial capabilities, then nothing can break you up. But if you let money get in the way of your equation with your partner, then it can surely lead to a disappointing end.