A friend of mine late last year married the man of her dreams. They are a couple that you just look at and get goose bumps knowing that maybe soul mates in love truly exist. I recently caught up with her after her worldly travels and as usual asked the question ‘so how is married life?’ She was practically glowing with happiness as she continued to discuss how blissful living with her partner was. As she babbled on and gave me examples, in the midst of it all I heard a ‘but…’ Let’s be honest, there is always a ‘but’.
Money was the ‘but’. Whilst she is more of the ‘let’s save the money to enjoy it together, holidays, houses etc’, he is more of a week-to-week type of guy that is obsessed with his gadgets and fanatical about his sports, so he does not hesitate to purchase the signed jersey from some A-League soccer club. Everything is great but they just can’t agree on the relationship they want to have as a couple with their finances.
It brought back many memories and not only once you are married. Especially if you haven’t lived with the person prior, there is that stress of trying to please or go above and beyond what you usual would do living alone. At the beginning you want everything to be perfect, you want it to be a breeze and like some fairytale movie script. Unfortunately that’s not how it goes – money causes issues, whether it’s trust or power issues.
Pretty early on we were over the fighting, the petty comments in person or around friends. We came up with a few things that would help our situation. Every day it takes a lot of work but it’s worth it because the person I married is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. So we both had to compromise and change for the better. United we stand!
My partner is very big on month-to-month plans: three-year plans, six-year plans… whatever plan he’s into it. I used to see this as a waste of time to be honest. My thoughts were ‘we don’t know what’s going to happen in 3 three years time, so don’t ask me how much I would have wanted to pay off my mortgage!’ As time has gone on I realised having a plan actually gets us both off each other’s back. If you paid all your bills, saved a bit on the side, bought all the birthday presents etc how you spend the rest of the money remaining is completely up to you. I like going out with friends once a week and doing a bit of shopping when I get a chance. My partner goes out with the boys and plays poker… but that’s OK because we have prioritised where our money needs to go and the rest we have some fun with.
I personally believe this is the key to maintaining a solid relationship, a trusting and respectful relationship. Be upfront from the beginning; discuss your expectations of each other. If you have separate accounts discuss the best options for the both of you. If there are a few trust issues, commit to a joint account and make it work. Having secret money is fun but let me tell you, if it was your partner you would be p*ssed off - let’s not sugar coat it. The way you want him to be with money you should do the same thing and vice versa. Don’t b*tch about all the expensive golf clubs he just purchased and then go out on a spending spree to just show him you can do it better. This will only cause more frustration and anger. Sit down and have that dirty talk. What’s OK to spend on? Did I spend too much for this? Do we have enough for what we want to achieve? I can go on and on but I think you get my drift.
It’s great to communicate and share your side of the story but to listen to yourself and your partner, to really listen is a lot more difficult. Listening and acknowledging the issue, not only do you have respect for yourself and the situation, but there may be underlying issues that are causing arguments when it comes to money. Spending on unnecessary items may be a cause of some childhood restriction a parent placed on the child. Or for me spending just makes me happy - it’s a buzz. I remember with my mum and sister spending every Thursday night shopping for no reason – it’s the memory, the way it made us feel which we have continued to do so in our adult life. Listen to what the person is saying - most often it’s a deeper issue.
Before making a huge purchase it’s as simple as discussing it. We planned to buy a couch and realised it would take us a few months to save up for it, instead of being in the red for some of our expenses. We communicated and prioritised the large item as an upcoming item and understood it was an emotional investment and a household expense. We listened to each other’s focus and ability to make it happen and why it wouldn’t if it didn’t.
Every relationship has a ‘spender’ and a ‘saver’. In my case I’m glad I discuss the big items because he then just goes on a rant to find the same thing for a cheaper price. It’s a win-win – I got the couch I wanted and he was extremely proud of the savings we had obtained.