Three Keys To A Strong Marriage
August 2012, Edition 7, Vol. 8
1. Invest in your marriage—spend time together! Investing in your relationship can do more to help with money issues than anything else. Often when couples fight over money, money isn’t really the problem; the relationship is, and money becomes the weapon. Money fights can be a bi-product of relationship neglect. If the relationship is in trouble, you may want to see a counselor and work together to repair your partnership. Invest in your marriage—spend time together, having fun and communicating. It need not be expensive; time together is the most important investment!
2. Discuss major purchases with your partner before you make them. Set a key purchase amount with your partner in advance. It may be $100 dollars or $1,000, whatever you’re comfortable with as a couple, and whatever makes sense within your budget. If you’re about to make a purchase that’s above the agreed upon key amount, wait until you’ve discussed it with your partner, and come to an agreement. The idea is to avoid spending surprises, which can lead to conflict.
3. Don’t keep secrets! We’ve all known someone who has lied about how much they spent on something. Don’t let it be you! Honesty is an important part of building trust, especially with your partner. When it comes to money, you want to share it with someone you trust! Be open and honest about your earnings and spending, even if you make a bad choice or mistake, it’s always better to be honest about money.
4. Understanding what influences your thinking and behavior about money. We all different when it comes to how we think and behave about money. Inherently women have different financial goals than men. With open communication these differences create a complimentary balance vital to achieving financial health. It’s essential you take time to understand, or at least accept, the influences shaping the way you and your spouse view and use money. Your parents, upbringing, gender, religion, personal experiences, education, and susceptibility to marketing messages are a few of the primary influences shaping the way you view and use money. Understanding how they affect you and your spouse’s thinking and behavior is essential when communicating about money.
5. Create a spending plan together. When you and your partner have a healthy, open dialogue about money, there aren’t many surprises (except maybe birthdays and holidays!) Work together to determine your needs and wants, then set your goals to meet them. Once you’ve agreed on your financial goals, spending limits, and how much you need to live and to save, then you can work together to accomplish anything.
Creating a spending plan or “budget” together for both short- and long-term goals improves communication and understanding. It not only brings financial rewards, it increases the bond between you and your spouse as you work toward your goals together. Time well spent!
6. Personal Expense or “Fun Money.” Both partners need a certain amount of money to spend however they wish. It gives you freedom from explaining or justifying every little expense. You can buy something, save it, or give it away! The amount isn’t as important as the principle of some personal freedom. Agree together on a monthly amount that each of you will have for personal expenses that you need not account for.
7. Re-write your spending plan a couple of times a year. Things change. Jobs, spending, the price of gas—they all change over time. The same spending plan won’t work forever. Do whatever makes sense to you as a couple, but having pre-planned “money meetings” to discuss finances and re-write your spending plan is the best way to keep your goals current and fresh in your mind and actions. Plan to review it monthly, quarterly, or at least every six months.
8. Work together to get out of debt and build wealth. Two people working together can accomplish much more than if you’re pulling in different directions. Now that you’ve made a plan together, stick to it. Review it together to watch your progress and make adjustments where needed. Share in the satisfaction of milestones like paying off a debt, saving, and building your wealth.
9. Every action has a reaction. Understand that any action you take, good or bad, has an impact on your spouse. This includes the choices you make with finances. Remember if you’re living independently without being accountable to each other, it’s time to reconnect!
10. Agree to disagree. It would be unrealistic to think two people always agree on every issue involving money in their marriage and family life. Expect disagreements, and they won’t come as such a shock. The key to marriage (and the money involved) is a strong partnership. If both partners are prepared to discuss issues calmly, make sacrifices, and compromise when needed, it’s amazing how easy it can be to work through differences.
Everyone wants success in their marriage and money. Working together, spending together, and saving and playing together are great ways to make that happen.
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