And when my new book 15 Minute Marriage Makeover comes out (next week!), you’ll see in the finances section just how much we think alike when it comes to marriage and money. Jesse knows his stuff!
You’re at the starting line of a three-legged race. Your spouse is your partner. You’ve already secured the tie around your ankles, you see the distant finish line, and you’re determined to haul buns.
You keep looking at each other and smiling, but you haven’t discussed any strategy. Oh come on, how hard can it be, right?
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On your mark….
You muster all your strength and throw yourself forward, but you move your inside leg first and your spouse is trying to move the outside leg. In less than two, awkward steps, both of you crumble to the ground in a heap.
Frustrated thoughts fill the stunned silence. “Wow, totally her fault; I was doing it the right way. That’s how I was taught and it always works really well.”
“I can’t believe this! He used the wrong leg to lead! I never do it that way and this is why!” “How are we ever going to make it to the finish line?!”
With that in mind….Welcome to Finance for Couples 101.
Bob Dylan once said, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”
Money, or I should say problems with money, seem to bring out the not-so-good parts in us. Money carries weight, and worry, and is the means for basic survival. We can’t be without it.
If something goes wrong (i.e. we don’t have it anymore), our reaction is passionate and emotional. Our primitive instinct takes over, and we grow defensive, making everyone else the enemy–the reason for the problem. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There doesn’t need to be heated “discussions” between spouses. Money doesn’t have to swear.
It can say nice things and pay your bills…if you teach it how to talk.
The best thing you can do with your money is tend it together. Create a plan of action together. Decide how your monthly budget should look together.
Think of the three-legged race. Awareness and communication are key. The more informed you are as a team, the more effective your efforts will be when you act as a team.
I understand that some spouses do just fine handling the finances all alone, and their partner may prefer not to get involved because he or she thinks money is confusing or stressful. Here’s where I say…
Gee that sounds lonely.
Finance is such a major, every-day part of marriage. Who wants to carry that load by themselves when their spouse is standing right there next to them?
One person can’t do all the work in a three-legged race, even if you both decide that’s how you want to do it. It needs both of you moving in the same direction at the same pace!
Educate yourselves and delve in as a pair. Two minds really are better than one. You’ll inevitably lighten the load by addressing your money issues as a duo rather than going solo. It also gives you a valuable opportunity to grow closer together. You’ll learn to respect each other’s different strides, and fall into a rhythm that’s all your own–as a couple.
Work to respect your spouse’s view points and concerns. You’ll achieve this fastest by getting rid of the defensive attitude.
Discussing money shouldn’t be a knock down, drag-out affair.
You’re on the same team, remember?
Tied together at the proverbial ankle. Bound to one another. Put down your dukes and open up your ears. You want your concerns to be heard? No doubt your spouse feels the same way. Make the discussion more about listening than trying to prove your point.
Is “money-talk time” happening in the first place? If not, it needs to be.
Regular, open communication is vital if you want to maintain sure financial footing. Right now you might be thinking, “Ok, this is all fine and dandy in make-believe world. But we can’t agree on the most advantageous toilet seat angle, let alone, how to handle our money.” That’s why I say, start talking about it. Today.
Whether these talks prove to be effective counseling time, or Jerry Springer-esque is up to you. You have the power to make it a constructive, enlightening experience, if you choose.
Hold hands while you talk. Go to a movie afterwards. Attach something positive to the discussion that helps you look forward to it.
As you work together during these meetings you’ll find that you become unified in purpose when it comes to your money and what it should be doing. Goals will develop naturally from these discussion,s and you’ll find that progress will be made regarding debt reduction, contributing to retirement savings, and overall contentment with your money.
You’ll reach that financial finish line, because you really are working as one. Your marriage, regardless of where it’s at now, will improve, at least in this one regard.
Jesse Mecham is founder of the financial software company, You Need a Budget—because you do! Based on four fail-safe rules, Jesse’s revolutionary software teaches a methodology that helps people break the paycheck to paycheck cycle, get out of debt, and save more money faster. You haven’t budgeted like this.