I got an interesting comment from my last post. In case there is any doubt, my husband and I are “good” fighters – never raise our voice, very sincere, listen well to the other side, and generally are “good communicators” as demonstrated by The First Dance Couple Checkup, an online, inexpensive, research-based premarital inventory on our website. The point is that with all those skills you will STILL disagree, still have “fights” as a couple, and the question is how you handle the problem. In todays society it is easy to feel if you can keep at it, eventually you’ll convince the other person they’re wrong. Or worse, you start to reassess whether you married the right person because they aren’t Mr. or Mrs. Perfect, afterall. It’s called a consumer marriage and it’s a disasterous mindset to have if you take it to an extreme.
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, “right and wrong” aren’t words that should be used in a marriage (excluding obvious cases of physical or emotional violence.) The reality is would you rather be “right” or happy? For most couples who have been together a long time, being happy is better than being “right”. Of course this all depends on the area you are disagreeing about. Generally those problems I talked about that are perpetual – you always procrastinate, you married a pack rat, your job makes you put in long hours but you love your career and don’t want to leave… all those stressors will always be there and sometimes it’s better to avoid the unending fights, or to at least TRY to see the other persons side. Your spouse doesn’t want to be a pack rat but finds it extremely challenging to throw things away, or you were born late and have never been on time for anything in the 30 years you’ve been alive… you don’t like it about yourself, but having a spouse yelling at you for it won’t make it better!
It is often said money, sex, and children are the three biggest areas of struggle for couples. I have seen so many couples who are so mismatched in their values about money that I urge anyone reading this who is like that, to get a financial planner – someone who is “Free” and can help set the groundwork for your financial future. Or if that isn’t likely, I was extremely impressed with the small part of a money game I played called Money Habitudes at a marriage conference. This is an easy card game but it is really surprisingly cool in helping you see how you view money without taking some boring quiz or having to think “too hard.” I want to get this sold through my website or somehow help couples more on this vital topic.
The reality is there is no “one” right way to handle money. My husband and I both worked high paying corporate jobs, went out to eat almost every night, traveled and had a great time! We could not have predicted we would make major career changes (stay at home life then small business life and he’s going into low paying counseling.) The reality is we’re savers and have no debt even with 2 years of him making no money. We bought a small house that we love to give us more flexibility, we own smaller cars, we don’t buy a lot of new clothes, etc. We could have never gone out to eat, never traveled and had a LOT more money saved up… but for us we couldn’t imagine ruining our fun times, the memories we have, just so we had a bigger bank account. It is the delicate line between having fun and saving, between living for today and living for tomorrow. And every person and therefor every couple is going to have their own UNIQUE balance…. my hope is that you have balance as a couple in however that translates for you.
And an obvious first place to start is WEDDING PLANNING! Do you hold the view that this is the one day worth splurging on? Or the wedding is “only a day” and isn’t worth going into debt for? Or the wedding is a massive family reunion and worth the time and money to bring everyone in your life together, even if it’s expensive, because there will never be an opportunity to do it again? Or is a wedding a sacred family event and you don’t feel a need to invite a lot of extra guests so you CAN have an elegant wedding and still not spend a lot?
What if your parents are paying? Does this have an impact on how you plan, how you spend, and where you place your values? My wedding was paid by my parents and was lower than the average for our state. My husband and I couldn’t imagine doing more even though my parents “could have afforded more.” We struck a balance between having nice wedding invitations, really nice music, a really good photographer and medicore food, the wedding cake tasted OK but looked pathetic (oh well…) and the table decorations weren’t what we wanted but we gave free reign to others and again, oh well. We got OUR wish which was a certain “feel” to the reception… the artwork in the church basement, the lighting, the live jazz band, the great host job of my dad to bring all our guests into the reception with some unique moments (like getting the wisdom from married couples that they have learned but did not know on their wedding day.)