Yes. It is entirely possible to talk with your spouse about finances without getting into an argument. My wife and I have never really argued (that much) about money, but that was mainly due to the fact that we never really talked about money money, period. But, as soon as we started thinking about getting out of debt (and getting our financial house in order) I realized, up front, that we needed to have system in place that would prevent us from arguing about money. (I’m a complete nerd. I actually used the word “system”. My wife, who is a normal person, looked at me and burst out laughing. She said, “You are such a dork. Get out of here with your ‘system’.) She’s cool like that. But, I pressed the issue, and created the system anyway. Because I’m cool like that! Over the past three years, we’ve learned to talk to each other about our finances. Of course, I’m using my “system”. My wife? She’s simply having a conversation.
- We talk about goals. I like to focus on short-term goals while she likes to think long-term. So, when I designed the plan to get out of debt, I focused on the short-term goal of being debt free AND the long-term goal of retiring before we both turn 60. After seeing where we could be in 30 years, my wife was “on board”.
- We talk about our family’s future. My wife is a super-mom and she is totally pro-kids. So, whenever we make a financial decision, we always remember to think about the long-term impact that decision might have on our kids’ futures. It’s SO much easier to save when your goal is “personal” and not simply “financial”. My wife is not fully-funding an ESA, she’s making sure our daughter can go to a great college. She’s not maximizing our retirement contributions, she’s thinking about the trips we’ll take when we have retired. See, I enjoy thinking about the mathematics, the interest rates, the financial possibilities. I like to think about the money itself. My wife, on the other hand, likes to think about what the money represents.
- I don’t have any money. My wife doesn’t have any money. We have money. For us, marriage is not a ‘trial run’. We are in this thing for the long haul. For us, that means that our finances are combined. Quite literally, what’s hers is mine and what’s mine is hers. Once that was established, there is no need to compare salaries, benefits, hours worked, jobs around the house, etc. We are more than a “team”. We are more than a family. We are family. My wife is the most important person in my life and I treat her like a princess. I think about what I can do to make her life better, easier, more fulfilled, and more enjoyable. She does the same for me. I bring my strengths to the table and she brings hers.
- My wife trusts me. Plain and simple, if I make a decision about our finances, my wife trusts me. Like I said before, my wife focuses on the long-term while I focus on the short-term. We work together to create our budget, but she trusts me to ‘do what’s best’ for our future. Frankly, I cannot imagine being married to someone that I didn’t trust.
- We only talk about money when it’s time to talk about money. For us, we talk about money once or twice a month, and that’s it. Seriously, if I thought that we had to talk about money more than that, I’d feel like I had a poor plan in place. We create our budget, we get out cash, we pay our bills, and we live. We do not talk about money on the way to an event, before church, during lunch, or late at night. We set aside 15 or 20 minutes a month and that’s it.
Talking about money, with anyone, can be difficult. Talking about money, with your spouse, can be downright frustrating. My wife and I have learned to “major on the majors and minor on the minors”. I guess you could say that we put the marriage first, and ourselves second.
One last thing, and maybe this should have been the way to start this post, my wife is really cool about almost everything. Seriously, I cannot imagine being married to anyone else. She’ll walk through the room, see me typing a post, and just shake her head, giggling to herself. But, she’s also proud of me. I think.