In May, I wrote 10 Money Fights Real Couples Have and I’m excited about expanding this series. If there is one thing that a married couple will tell you, they would say that money can change everything.
Too much of it can cause problems just like not having enough of it can cause problems.
My husband and I dated for a loooooooong time and had premarital counseling–twice–and still experienced money challenges that were a surprise and a shock.
Financial Love Languages
If I said, “buy” he said “save”.
If he said “cash” I said “charge”.
We spoke two different financial languages. I wanted security, which meant things, and he wanted respect, which meant being in charge.
We paid the bills totally differently. We both had credit cards, student loans, car loans and we were anxious for more stuff simply because we did not know better!
We. Were. A. Mess.
Now almost 15 years later, thankfully we speak the same language. We talk about money, goals, and our future a lot. We are not perfect–not by a long shot–but we communicate openly and clearly to limit misunderstandings. We play financial offense and defense in harmony instead of at opposing times.
That’s very necessary to marital success. Couples must work together to secure a better financial life.
My hubby is a basketball fan and a big Kobe Bryant fan. As we were getting on the same financial page, I referenced sports a lot. For example, I would talk about how it mattered not if Kobe played a great game, even a triple double, but if his teammates were not playing on the same level, the team could still lose.
At that point just forget how Kobe played–his success meant nothing if his teammates played as if they were on opposing teams.
Getting Focused as a Couple
As couples, we too must have a singular focus on winning–like Kobe Bryant.
How do we come together as a couple to handle debt that was likely created while we were single?
For instance…his $20,000 car loan, her $8000 Visa and Macy’s maxxed out credit cards…
his whopping $42,000 in student loan debt!
How do we put all the pieces together in our new joint life to enjoy bliss and blessings?!?
My advice and most certainly what we have done, is to see all debt as our debt. Here is why:
1) I married a whole person and not a part of a person.
The reality of marriage does not afford us the ability to pick our spouse’s winning qualities and then dismiss the less than desirable. That may work in dating (well, in some forms of dating) but not in marriage. As a demonstration of that commitment, we took vows publicly and before God to go the distance and to take the good with the bad.
I can’t accept his salary but then disregard his debt. He can’t enjoy my benefits from work but then refuse to pay the student loans, which led to the degree, which led to the job.
We are now one flesh and the blending of our lives is not optional, but mandatory.
2) Learn to put emotions to the side and put winning on your mind.
I once had a heated discussion with a married guy who was very upset about the vast amount of his wife’s debt. His solution to her problem was to contribute part of his income to their joint expenses (the house, the utilities, etc) and she was fully responsible for paying her debt.
While he was clearly upset about the high amount of her debt, his emotions were in charge. Instead of punishing her by withholding apart of himself, he could have used those emotions to formulate a plan to attack her debt as a team and then as a couple they could quickly move on to a better place.
Caution–emotions are fickle and can cause us to manipulate people and sometimes the people closest to us.
3) Value what your spouse adds to who you are and don’t compromise it.
Sometimes in the difficult times it’s easy to lose sight of what attracted us to our spouse and what made us choose each other above all others.
If money–and not personality, character, or love–was the most important part of marriage, then wealthy people would never divorce!
It’s genuine to have feelings of disappointment and displeasure regarding poor financial choices but there’s more at stake. There’s a friendship, an intimacy and a support network who is worth fighting for–and by fighting as a team, we gain more than financial reward. While it’s natural to want to shun the fight, that’s where we discover our strength.
And stay in the fight for your financial freedom and your marriage!
How are you and your spouse handling debt in your marriage?