What’s the final hurdle for couples to overcome the money fights in their relationship? Find out now in this final installment of my series.
Part I: How Couples Can End the Money Fights (a look at the importance of communication)
Goals and values being shared in open and honest communication – Check.
Emotional barriers torn apart and strong connections being rebuilt through the sharing of feelings – Check.
Budget in solid working order after months of trial and error – Check.
Frivolous spending habits being altered through discipline and focus – Check.
Still, it wasn’t enough to end the tension over money. Something still lingered subtly beneath the surface that was keeping us from moving forward. With our momentum stalled, we decided one day to take a step backwards…backwards to Step One that is. That’s right, more communication.
This time around as I listened deeper to my wife talk about her needs, here is what I heard her say…
“I need to feel secure.”
Some Thoughts on Security from Mrs. Luke1428
I needed to be reassured that we were not going to spend money that we did not have. To me, that put our future in jeopardy, which was something I was not OK with. A budget gave us boundaries and an emergency fund gave our budget cover. As long as we were inside those boundaries, I had a sense of security. It really is amazing how much freedom I felt to spend once I knew we were operating with those things in place.
Imagine you are driving with your spouse on a mountain road along a cliff with no guardrail. The cautious driver would move as far away from the edge as possible. That was me – probably overcompensating on the conservative side. Meanwhile, the other spouse drives recklessly, skirting the edge of the cliff at every turn. Their driving indicates they do not care that there is no boundary and that they are willing to take unnecessary risks. This would completely freak out the other spouse, and probably even anger them.
Now imagine that same road, but with the guardrails in place for both drivers. The cautious spouse knows that there is a limit and that the car will not go careening over the side of the cliff. The cautious spouse isn’t worried or fearful anymore. Additionally, the cautious spouse can drive freely and not overcompensate due to fear. This scenario brings peace and security. Everyone enjoys the ride more.
Knowing my wife had this need for security changed the direction of our path, especially in how I viewed our money management and planning for the future.
On our emergency fund: I realized having three to six months in emergency expenses set aside made her sleep better at night. No more worrying about where the money will come from to fix whatever breaks down. Sure, the money is earning nothing sitting in a savings account. It doesn’t matter…the fund is an investment in her emotional health. (Funny thing is that once we had this set in place, I realized it was also an investment in mine.)
On preparing for retirement and college: It became apparent that we couldn’t just save and invest our money without a plan. Specific money had to be designated solely for us in our later years and to assist our children with college. And we had to start now. No waiting until our 50s to start thinking about these things.
On Mrs. Luke1428’s career change: I believe my resolve to plan and stay within the guardrails gave my wife the confidence to pursue and successfully complete a career change from high school teacher to CPA. There would have been great hesitancy on her part to commit the financial and emotional resources to such a bold move had I been wildly spending every dollar.
So men, listen up. The lady in your life values security and that’s not a bad thing. Don’t view her as being unrealistic or weak-minded. She is demonstrating great wisdom by seeking this out. In the end, recognizing this issue and providing her with what she needs will reduce the tension over money in your relationship and bring you together to work as one.
Enjoying the Ride
There does not need to be constant fighting over money in your relationship. It will take you coming together and committing to the steps I’ve outlined in this series. I can’t promise it will be easy every step of the way but if you work the process and give it time, you will eventually be able to enjoy the ride.
Ladies – what are your thoughts on the need for security being a “must have.” Is that true? Men – How are you working with your girlfriend or spouse to ensure her emotional needs are being met?
Prior Post: How One Shoebox Can Change a Life This Christmas