couple on couchMarriage is great and blissful 24/7! Hmmm…nope…Scratch that.

Marriage can be great and can be blissful. Yes…better, much better.

Every couple, when honest, will admit that marriage can be challenging. They will also admit when honest, that marriage and money can be unsuccessful if the right motives and relationship tools are not consistently applied. When a couple is on the same page, amazing things can happen!

How do I know?

I have been in this course for almost 15 years now–Marriage and Money. We have experienced the good, the bad and the down right ugly and while we are not experts or psychologists, we are survivors!

So I felt like this topic, Marriage and Money, could help us share what we have learned and help us learn from others.

Marriage Takes Work

As a newlywed almost 15 years ago, I was very naive about marriage and how the blending of our finances would work. I thought we would always be on the same page, always have the same spending habits and always have the same goals. Big. Fat. Not. Technically the work could not begin until the wedding was over. Everything before the wedding was just the interview and I was feeling some kinda way about money issues that were not seen during the interview.

Fast forward 15 years later and we have survived! We have survived college debt, first and second homes, faced near foreclosure, six-figure incomes, loosing six-figure incomes, no debt, loads of debt, good credit, bad credit, lots of money in the bank, zero money in the bank, borrowing from family, giving to family, having a child and the Great Recession of 2008+.

It’s been enough to take us over the brink but I thank God that it didn’t.

FACT: 50% of all marriages end in divorce and most end due to financial problems.
So how do we address the elephant in the room if we want successful marriages?

First you need to know what you’re fighting and why. Having worked with couples and listening to friends who are dedicated to improving their finances, here are the common money fights we all experience.

10 Money Fights Real Couples Have

1. Lack of a regular and consistent approach to handling money
2. The Spender versus The Saver
3. Joint accounts versus Single accounts
4. His debt vs. Her debt
5. Spending on the kids
6. Providing financial help to family members
7. Giving and tithing at church or charities
8. Different or no goals for the future, including retirement and college planning
9. Hiding purchases
10. Making large purchases without consulting the other spouse

The list is extensive and there’s probably more that can be added. During this series, Marriage and Money, we will talk about it. Let’s share and help each other! I’ll start first.

Below are summaries of how we handle our finances relative to the list above.

1. On a good month, we budget together but I usually take the lead. No surprise there. Early in our marriage we were told to take responsibility for tasks based on our strengths and not a gender bias, i.e., ‘the man handles the finances’. Very true!

2. We fluctuate between between who is the spender versus who is the saver. More importantly we hold each other accountable and we have learned that goals are a necessity. No plan, no target, no success.

3. Joint accounts. We have had single accounts in the past but it led to arguments and speculations. This can stem from trust issues so be careful about motives and intentions.

4. It’s all the same! It takes both of us pulling in the same direction to build momentum. If we are on separate debt islands trying to fight separate battles then why are we married?!?

5. He’s a giver and I just love my daughter, so we usually meet in the middle.

6. This one is tough. There can be a thin line between helping and enabling. Number one, we don’t give what we can’t freely give, meaning we don’t loan relatives money, we gift it. This greatly reduces problems. We also say ‘no’ more than ‘yes’.

7. We are tithers and givers and this did not happen overnight. From time to time we differ on how much to give, but we know it’s important so we keep the bickering to a minimum. Compromise, compromise.

8. We are contributing towards retirement but we talk about it in generalizations. I look forward to one day sitting down and specifically writing out our dreams and goals. Abstract thoughts and hopes are not enough to reach long term goals.

9. I’m guilty and so is he but this rarely happens. This has ranged from small purchases–clothes, shoes, etc. but this will definitly be worth a separate post one day because lots of us are guilty of this one!

10. This is a no-no. We are a team and teams don’t divide and conquer in the realm of major purchases. (By major purchase, I’m referring to cars, timeshares, a house and so forth. I know folks who this has happened to!)

This was a long post but I really wanted to share because Marriage and Money is something most couples don’t know where to turn for help. If there are not trusted advisors in the family or even the local church, hopefully we can share tips and tools that have helped us tremendously!

Share what’s on your mind. How has money impacted your marriage?