Do You Fight About Money With Your Honey?

6 years ago

Does anyone in a long-term relationship never argue about money? I'll wait. Nobody? Okay. Let's talk about how to just ... not.

My husband and I have been married for ten years, together for thirteen. We didn't argue about money when we were dating ... because we each had our own money. We lived together before we got married, but for the most part, we still didn't really argue ... because we just split the bills and did what we wanted with the rest.

Then we got married -- and so did our checking accounts -- and all of the sudden, I was making him put all his receipts in a decorative sailboat by the front door of our apartment and we never knew how much money we had because damn it, we were both spending it at the same time.

I know married couples who still have separate checking accounts, but I argue if you live in the same pad and eat the same food, it doesn't really matter who is paying for it -- you're sharing your lifestyle if not your money. I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's really hard to live with other people.

My husband and I have gone through several iterations of figuring out how to make the money thing not be an issue. I have tried to become less of a control freak. In order to do this, it seems, I need to be pretty in the dark. I can find out how much money we have at any given time, but I have a much lower tolerance for the ups and downs of life than my husband does. Also, he's a financial consultant. So after about eight years of me pasting our debt on the refrigerator door with a little thermometer, I finally threw up my hands, handed him the checkbook and account log-ins and buried my head very firmly in the sand. He brought his iTunes habit in check and I stopped buying US Weekly whenever I had a bad day. And we gave birth to a very beautiful and very expensive baby and bought a house and ever since those two events, almost all our disposable income goes to the care and feeding of one or the other. For the most part, we are happy. I can count the times we've argued over money in the last year on one hand. But I've also aligned my expectations for how quickly we can pay off years of foreclosure remodeling with reality and he has learned to hide the electronics section of the Sunday paper he so lovingly stares at from my evil gaze.

Also, we got older. We used to travel. We don't do that very often any more. We used to eat out a lot and go to clubs. We don't do that very often any more, either. We used to go shopping seasonally. Nope, not any more. We used to go to a lot of concerts and plays and even the opera. Now I am starting to depress myself. But what we do now -- while less -- is aligned with the value system we put in place for our family. We want to have a forever house. We want it to be something we enjoy living in instead of put up with. We want to see our parents and siblings as often as we can, and they live in Iowa while we live in Kansas City. We want to have pretty flowers. We still buy stuff -- but now it's much more permanent stuff than we did ten years ago. It costs more, we have to save for it longer and when we get it, it is SWEET VICTORY. (I'm still waiting on blinds for the huge kitchen windows we've been parading around in front of for almost a year. I'm going to dance naked in my kitchen when I get them. Or at least be able to empty the dishwasher in my pajamas.)

I recently got an email from Dani Johnson, whose bio caught my eye: Dani was raised on welfare, pregnant at 17, homeless at 21 and a millionaire at 23. Let's see what Dani has to say about love and money.

Credit Image: Ed Yourdon on Flickr

  • The enemy is not your spouse, it is your debt. Debt can be overpowering, you work all month just to dig yourself deeper in debt, increasing stress, which leads to fighting that can destroy your relationship and your happiness. STOP! The enemy is not each other; the enemy is your debt and it is time to declare a war on it together.

  • Live within your means -- rich people go bankrupt, too. Whether you are worth $5M or make a modest salary, you need to live within your means. For the average American, there are simple and proven techniques that work. One example: Stop wasting thousands of dollars each month on food you don’t need. Eat every item in your fridge and pantry before you go shopping and you will save THOUSANDS each month. I feed my family of eight on $100 per week.

  • Prosper where you are planted. Whether you are a small business owner, an entrepreneur, or work in corporate America, you need to learn to prosper where you are planted. Blaming your spouse, your parents or your boss will not fix your problems. The debt fairy is not coming. It is time to stop complaining and get to work.

  • Turn the Blackberry off. Work as hard at your home life as you do at the office! Set aside time completely devoted to your wife, husband and kids. Don’t take business calls or even think about business. This not only reminds you how much you love each other but will recharge your batteries so you are itching to go back to work to kick butt.

  • Communicate and do not commit financial infidelity. This is the fastest way to sabotage your relationship. Sit down with each other, figure out where you can trim back and set goals for yourselves. Money should not tear you apart. If you are open and honest with each other, you can overcome these issues together and it will make you stronger.

Out of all of these, I think the bookends are the best tips. So many times we take our frustrations out on the people we love most because we can -- they are there at the end of the day when we open the bills and want to kick the dog. I totally used to do this. I do not do this any more. It is not worth it -- a good friend told me once when going through financial hardship you have to remember that the hardship will probably pass, and what you'll remember most about that hard time is how you treated each other. And how you treat each other extends to lying. To my knowledge, my husband has never lied to me about money and I have never lied to him about it. I think either of us would be so shocked and hurt that nothing could possibly be worth it. Also, I don't know where we would hide the loot.

What do you think? Do you fight about money with your honey?

Rita Arens authors Surrender Dorothy and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.

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