Written with love, by Karley Kiker
Before getting married it was difficult for me to believe that financial issues were one of the leading causes of divorce. We all took vows for richer or poorer, right? We knew that those ambiguous “hard times” might come sometime in the distant future, but our love would always be enough get us through.
You know what? I still believe that’s true. If we lost all of our clients and everything went south for us (and I don’t mean to Mexico for vacation), I know that God would remain in control and that Taylor and I would remain committed to one another. But that doesn’t mean I think it would be easy. I don’t particularly enjoy cutting back on date nights and take-out meals when we’re experiencing a tight month budget-wise, so I can only imagine the strain of rebuilding our lives from scratch following a major financial setback.
Sometimes it doesn’t take a “major financial setback” to cause financial strain in marriage, though, which is why today we’re focusing on some of the smaller ways that the money issue can rear its head in marriage. Consider the following questions:
Is the money yours, mine, or ours?
Who sets and monitors the family budget?
Who balances the checkbook?
Who pays the bills?
Do online orders from Amazon need to be discussed before the credit card information is entered and the shipment is on its way? (Asking for a friend.)
There’s not necessarily a “right” answer to any of these questions—for instance, although my mom was always responsible for balancing the books in my family while I was growing up, Taylor handles that task in our little unit. The important thing is finding out what’s right for you as a couple.
And then there’s the spending issue. Ahem. When I was single I went to Starbucks almost every day during my work break. I also spent a significant amount of my income on dining out, and treating myself to a new outfit wasn’t unheard of. But the way I spent my single-girl earnings looks nothing like the way our marital money is handled. Retirement plans, emergency funds, and bills all require an infusion of capital, which meant I had to adjust my spending habits post “I do.”
Again, there’s no set formula for the “right” way to spend money in marriage. Some of my couple friends give themselves set allowances each month, which allows them to do whatever they want (whenever they want) with an agreed-upon amount of money. Our solution? To create a joint budget that reflects what matters to us most as a couple rather than as individuals, and to leave enough elasticity to accommodate spur-of-the-moment date nights and/or surprise root canals. When deciding what’s right for your family, just remember: Too much restriction, and chances are that one or both of you will feel like you’re not having much fun at all. Too little saving, and anxiety about emergencies that may or may not happen in the unforeseen future is bound to creep in.
The bottom line? Don’t let money come between you and your honey!
Do you guys have any other tips for avoiding financial strain in marriage? Feel free to comment below with your suggestions!