Financial incompatibility is something a lot of couples oversee before getting married. There are a few conversations one must have before taking the next step in the relationship, and money matters should certainly be discussed. Different attitudes in spending and saving can pose as a challenge after marriage.
But while the mountain is high, it can certainly be scaled. Money and marriage are linked closely, and they can coexist in peace with equal parts compromise, and equal parts wisdom. If you’re reading this with the hope that there’s a mantra which can radically alter your spouse’s approach towards finances, I might end up disappointing you.
The crux of the matter is that people don’t change. But that doesn’t mean the differences cannot be overcome. Let’s talk about money, marriage, and managing differences. I have my two cents to give, and a story to share.
Money Management In Marriage
How to manage money in marriage when your spouse holds a polar opposite view? Can these money problems in marriage be dealt with? Or do they spell doom for our 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 mutual understanding.
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 tendencies to save money. Meeting in the middle is very important to strike a balance.
Today I have an inspiring story to share. It’s the journey of Erica and Ryan as they navigated money management in their marriage. Listening to Erica talk was just another reminder of how love is ‘despite of’, not ‘because of’. Their ride might give you the perspective you need. Keep reading to find out how handling finances in a marriage works!
(Names changed to protect identities)
Related Reading: Does It Help To Talk About Mutual Finances Before Marriage?
What’s all this about a music system?
Money in marriage can be a major area of conflict for couples. In our case it was bigger, 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 amount from that 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 towards it. I was aghast. After all, music would be the same even if listened to on a smaller system, and I 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. Sometimes these fights become more important than the 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 course of these years, money in marriage has arisen as an issue when we spot 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 towards 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, or a pen, or some high-end gadget. If he had to buy me a gift, maybe he would book a luxury vacation, or 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.
When people ask me how to manage money in marriage, I tell them 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. And because of this conflict 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: walking 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 towards money is rooted elsewhere: 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.
Suppose I want to go for a walk and my spouse would rather go shopping? 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.”
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.