Growing up, money was always a struggle and I use to see couples argue all the time about money. I use to tell myself that I would do things differently and I made sure when I got married we were on the same page. My wife has never cared about taking an active role with our savings and investment strategies. She just does not feel comfortable managing money, but I love personal finance. Even though I control the finances, I make sure she is fully aware of what is going on. If you are not on the same page, problems will flare up.
Separate accounts. For some couples, the way to avoid money arguments is to have separate bank accounts. Each person has their own money and split the bills equally. Sounds great on the surface, but there are a few problems with this plan.
I have always viewed marriage as a partnership and I am not sure that separating the bills is truly investing in the partnership of marriage. It sounds more like a roommate situation. What if your spouse makes a lot more income and you are splitting the bills 50/50. Do you think the one who is making less might contend that the other person should pay more? Can you see where this is going? It can really open up a can of worms. However, I know couples who are able to have separate accounts and make it work. I just do not like things to be complicated.
Different lifestyles. Both my wife and I do not have expensive task. We are content shopping at discount stores and eating at home most nights. However, I have seen other couples who argue all the time about their spouses spending habits in these areas. If you have a partner eating out and buying brand name clothes, while you are being frugal, it might cause problems, especially if you are both trying to save for something important like a down payment for a house. It really is important to set up a budget that both of you can live with. Remember, you are in this together.
Living your dream at the expense of the other. I would like to retire early and I know that my wife will not be able to. I am Native American and in Oklahoma I get free healthcare. Not having to worry about that additional expenditure will allow me to retire early. There are a lot of people staying employed longer than they have to because of the need for healthcare insurance. Even though I will be able to retire early, I will make sure that I am still bring in enough money from investments to make sure we do not have to go without. I do not think it would be fair if we had to change our lifestyle radically to accommodate me. I could easily see resentment from my partner if that occurred.
In addition, if you feel that you are doing all the work, while your spouse lives out their dream, your marriage will inevitably suffer. I want to make sure that my wife is also getting something out of it. Since she is a teacher, I will make sure we do some traveling when I retire because I want her to have fun also. I also like to discuss with her how thing will most likely be during those years. Even though I am at least 10 to 12 years away from retirement, it is never to early to start preparing mentally.
Your children will have various taste and you have to make sure they do not divide and conquer. I tend to buy our son a little more than what my wife would do. We will be having our second child in May and I know I will probably be an old softy with her. I think the key is making sure we are both on the same page when we purchase bigger items and not let our kids divide us.
Having realistic expectations. Marriage is not a fairy tail and you will have your ups and downs. If you are holding your spouse to an image you created in your head, I think disappointment is just around the corner. No one is perfect and I doubt they are like “McDreamy” from Grey’s Anatomy. The actor who plays him, Patrick Dempsey, has publicly addressed his own marital problems. So, even “McDreamy” has issues. Both parties really have to work at it and somethings it does not work out. Realistically, you cannot put in all the work. Both partners have to contribute.
In the end, a marriage is about partnership. If you want to reach that destination together you have to work together. Talking is the first step and actually listening makes an even bigger difference. I have no magic wand to make your spouse get with the program. I can only offer a few thoughts to share. Take some time and think about what I wrote. Do you feel that your life partner is contributing equally to the relationship? Do you feel that there is still work to be done? Opinions are always welcomed.