Marriage & Money - Part I
Couples argue about money. In fact, according to some statistics, couples argue about money more than anything else. But I think we can start changing that. Rather than me tell you my thoughts on this, I want to let Mrs. Free Spirit share her perspective. We've gotten it wrong in years past, but thanks to the school of hard knocks and a willingness to change, we're now getting it right. Without further ado, here's my wife, Kristy...
I’m a Free Spirit. My husband is a total Nerd (as evidenced by his profession). Once upon a time, this polarization caused problems in our marriage. I used to see Jeremy as the Soup Nazi of our family’s finances… “No money for you!” But I had to admit, my approach to finances hadn’t worked for me as an individual, and if it hadn’t worked for one human, it certainly wasn’t going to work for two.
Here’s an example from my post-college days just so you know where I’m coming from: I once went on a little shopping spree for new throw pillows for my apartment. I loved these beautiful pillows I’d found! They were seriously so cute, y’all! But, sadly, because of the state of my finances, I didn’t even know if I’d be able to keep them at month’s end. So I cautiously placed them on my bed, the couch and chairs, hiding the tags behind them for fear a removed tag would make them ineligible for return.
On the surface, everything looked okay, but just like I was hiding the tags, I was just covering my poor financial decisions with more poor decisions. I had no handle on my income or my expenses, so I truly didn’t know if I’d need to return those precious pillows in order to pay my bills. As it turned out, I did have to take those pillows back. It was a sad day. But it was also a day that I realized I didn’t want to continue down the path I was on. Something had to change.
I tell you that so you'll know that financial details, spreadsheets, and categorizing spending isn’t my thing AT ALL. I dislike every bit of it. Even now, if we don't follow certain protocol, when Jeremy wants us to have any sort of financial conversation, my eyes gloss over, suddenly everything he’s saying sounds like Portugese (which, in case you are wondering, I do not speak), and my attention span is that of a flitting butterfly. Mostly, though, I just want to run away.
Intellectually, I know that fleeing isn’t a mature option. And, realistically, being completely oblivious can be detrimental. Being the wife of a financial advisor and working in the business with Jeremy, we’ve had opportunity to see new widows, both those who are relatively well informed of their financial situations and those who have been completely overwhelmed getting thrown into their financial affairs upon their spouse’s death. Now at that point it doesn’t matter if the reason for the lack of involvement was her disinterest, her spouse’s lack of sharing, or both. But I know this for myself: I want to be involved enough to know the general state of things so that financial worries aren't added upon my grief if something should happen to Mr. Nerd. I have come to see that it’s my duty to make sure of that for myself and my children. So, yes, getting involved in the family finances is far from my idea of fun, but having seen the other side, it’s necessary.
So how do Jeremy and I do it? How do we get on the same page if what one loves the other considers sadistic torture? Well, to be completely frank, it’s not always easy. But, the work you put in here is completely worth it! Did you know that finances are among the top causes of divorce? If you and your spouse find yourselves arguing about money, then putting some focused effort into your finances could literally save your marriage. Now that’s an impactful and worthwhile way to spend your time!
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to walk through the perspective shifts we had, and then I’ll tell you the practical things each of us had to do differently to contribute to our financial unity. Today your first step is just making an honest appraisal of where you and your spouse are. Maybe you’re already on the same page. If so, God bless you and may you continue in that! Maybe you’re like us early on in our marriage… in the same genre, but completely different books. Or maybe you’re in the book section and your spouse is looking at widescreen TVs. Whatever the case may be, take a minute to do the Nerd/Free Spirit quiz here and get your spouse to do it too! Then stay tuned as I share what has worked for us; there are sure to be some tips to make your combined financial life more like a peace talk and less like a war zone.
P.S. For any of my fellow Free Spirits who thought me a traitor, and for the peace of mind of the Nerds, know that my involvement in the business has nothing to with the finance end of things. I'm the marketing gal. :)