Ok, I have a confession. I don’t think my wife and I have ever argued over money. At least I can’t recall a single argument. That’s not to say we don’t disagree about things or talk about how to do things but the reality is we never raise our voices about it.
I just assumed for a while that most people didn’t argue about money, that is until I started discussing the issue with others. I’ve been surprised by how most people I’ve talked to about this recall having some arguments over money. Then I did some searches on Google and realized that arguing over money seems to show up on a lot of top five and top ten argument lists.
So what the hell makes a marriage functional about money? Well here’s what I’ve noticed seems to work in my marriage.
- Address Imbalances. The reality is your income situation will likely be off balance. One of you will make more than the other. In my case I take home now about ten time more than my wife. Yet I don’t believe for a second that entitles me to anything other than half of the decision making power. Just because I make more doesn’t entitle me to more of a say since money is only one input into a relationship.
- Play to Your Strengths. I’m a long term thinker, so planning for an early retirement comes natural to me. My wife on the other hand does not do long term well, but she is the short term expert. She has all the birthdays on the calender and makes sure we start talking about next years vacation in order to book things. She reminders me about swimming lessons for the boys and a visit with friends. So I don’t try to do what she does well and she inputs ideas on early retirement but let’s me do all the math. We respect what the other one is good at and let them take the lead on some things.
- Address Emotional Issues. Money isn’t just money. It’s also got memories, hopes and fears attached to it. You have to recognize that fact with your spouse and deal with these irrational moments that come up. Also you need to address both of your dreams with money over the long term. You might want a new car and your spouse may want a new trip, but you need to plan for both.
- Set Common Priorities. You have to have a common set of priorities to really excel together. I know, for example, we both value our kids more than my account balances. Should an emergency come up I won’t even pause to drain every savings account and max out my line of credit. I’ve already did it once when our first was born ten weeks premature. So we don’t ever argue about the big items in life. We know what the answer will be.
Well that is what seems to work for my marriage, what works in your relationship?