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3 Steps We Took to Develop Financial Success in Our Marriage

financial success in marriageMy wife and I have had success in marriage despite the fact we exhibit many different personality traits. I am more reserved, take my time with decisions and love to spend money. She on the other hand, is an outgoing, get things done driver, who coincidentally loves to save.

Despite our different personality types, we seldom disagree on financial related things. We learned early on that disagreements over financial issues were detrimental to our personal marriage, not to mention one of the leading causes of divorce in America. So we established some guidelines and parameters for our finances that helped us develop oneness in our marriage.

Steps to Develop Financial Success in Marriage

Our financial decisions have not always been the best. In fact, many of our money guidelines have evolved and been enhanced over the years. Within the last five years especially, we’ve realized more and more what it means to be on the same page with one another. It’s in this most recent period of our lives that I’ve noticed success in marriage growing. In regards to our finances, it all boils down to three big issues.

Listening to each other

Your finances will flourish and the monthly budgets will be successful when you spend time communicating with one another. In this effort, both individuals must be willing to come together and hear what the other person is saying. It does no good to ignore or patronize your partner. That only creates resentment and tension.

I didn’t get this for the longest time. We would have frequent discussions about money, but I wasn’t really listening. When Mrs. Luke1428 would explain to me that we had to pull money out of savings to pay our credit card bill, I basically shrugged my shoulders and said we’d try harder next month. Next month would come and go with the same result.

The situation didn’t change until a light bulb went off in my head and I truly heard what was being expressed. My wife wasn’t really complaining about spending too much on our credit card (although that was a problem). What she was really saying was “I’m afraid of the direction we are heading.” That was the big message I had been missing by not really listening.

Sharing the responsibility

No one person can run your family finances. The responsibility must be shared. You may have one person who keys in the numbers for the budget, does the shopping, pays the bills and updates all the financial records. That’s fine because that process is simply division of labor within the marriage due to time availability or the strengths of the individual.

With that said, both parties must be involved. Both parties should share input on the budget. Both parties should be aware of the financial goals. Both parties should have a working knowledge of the family income and expenses, as well as college, retirement and investment planning. In short, it’s a team effort.

You can’t simply abdicate total financial responsibility to one party in the marriage and say “You do it…I don’t care.” What if your spouse dies? You’ll have no clue how to piece together your financial puzzle. What if they make a financial mistake? They will get the full force of your blame. What if they are doing something with money behind your back? When that’s found out, it will cause untold damage to the relationship.

These issues happen every day in families that aren’t sharing responsibility for the finances. Both parties should be involved and have knowledge of what’s going on. Anything other than that scenario is simple laziness.

Sticking to the plan

When we listened to one another and began to share responsibility, we found a natural desire developed to put together a financial plan for our lives. That was a big step. However, the bigger step was learning to set aside the old habits and not violate the plan.

When I stick to the plan we jointly put together, I’m saying these things to my spouse:

“You can trust me.”

“Your opinion and effort in this endeavor is valued.”

“I’m putting my selfish spending desires behind that of the family goals.”

“I’m committed for the long haul.”

If the plan needs to change for some reason or you get a sudden urge to spend money on something outside the confines of the plan, you had better talk about it first. Don’t violate the agreed upon plan on your own accord. Doing that will cause relational damage and ruin any goodwill that has been built up over time.

Learning to do these three things has caused quite a change for us. I’d suggest you give them some consideration today and evaluate how well you are listening to one another, sharing in the financial responsibility and sticking to your plan. If you engage in these three activities, success in marriage will be right around the corner.

Questions: What other things does sticking to the plan communicate to your spouse? How do you share responsibility of the finances with your significant other? Do you ever have trouble listening to what the other person is saying? How have you developed success in marriage?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  1. Listening and understanding each other is huge. Many times my wife says something and I hear it differently. In past relationships, this lead to problems. Now, if I tell her what I heard, she can better explain herself so I understand what exactly she meant. I was listening all along, I just wasn’t understanding. The same holds true for her as well – she’ll ask me to explain something I’ve said. The more we are on the same page, the easier life is.

    • “Many times my wife says something and I hear it differently.” Haha…can’t count the number of times that’s happened in our house. The key is to talk it out until the other person understands what you are saying. Oh…and do that without getting frustrated in one another.

  2. Great point Brian. I know that my wife and I are stronger as a couple when we put in the time and effort to create a plan and stick to it, and you’re totally right that it says “I’m in the for the long haul.” I think a big one is discussing and deciding on large purchases together. There’s never a right/wrong answer to big purchases and we always feel better about them when we’ve spent time discussing and listening to each other’s thoughts and concerns.

  3. Student Debt Survivor says

    Eric and I aren’t married yet so we don’t share accounts or finances, but we do talk about finances all the time. Good, open communication makes budgeting and financial decisions so much easier. Thankfully Eric and I are on the “same page” most of the time when it comes to finances, so that certainly helps. When we don’t agree I try to explain why I feel a certain way i.e. not just “I want to buy xyz”, but “I want to buy xyz because we bought xyz when I was a kid and it reminds me of home”. If he understands the real reason behind the purchase or decision it’s much easier for him to understand where I’m coming from.

    • Discussing feelings is huge. I’ve found that talking about my feelings helps remove tension, especially when I might have to confront my spouse about something that might be negative.

  4. You pretty much described our dynamic as a couple (although, I’m the one that likes to spend – my husband is the uber saver) I’d like to think that over the years, we’ve rubbed off on each other, though.
    Our main challenge has been working on our communication – as long as we’re communicating well, we are able to work through any of our differences. For example, my husband is great about letting me “feel” and be emotional and I’ve learned that sometimes, he has to take a step back and take his time to make his decision.
    When it comes to our money, we always seem to be on the same page, and we do not ever take that for granted.
    Great post and yay for frugal couples! 🙂

    • “…he has to take a step back and take his time to make his decision.” That describes me pretty much also. I process things at a much slower pace than my wife. I’d rather put off a decision for a bit and give it some thought than rush into it and make a mistake.

  5. Holly Johnson says

    Greg and I create a zero-sum budget at the beginning of each month, and then I pay the bills according to the plan we’ve decided on. We’ve never argued about money, even when we were in debt. I think it’s because we just tend to communicate well in general.

    • We do the same Holly. Now since we’ve been doing a budget for so long, our budget meetings only last about 5 minutes most months.

  6. I could not agree more about the not abdicating responsibility Brian! Unfortunately, too many do and thus is part of the problem. We share the responsibility in our home. We go over the budget together and my wife pays the bills (well, most are on auto pay) and I handle the saving/investing. We also discuss what each is doing with both so we’re on the same page. I think the key for married couples, is to communicate so you can understand where each is coming from and embrace ownership. It’s going to vary from couple to couple, of course, but shared responsibility is going to go a long way to help out.

    • I’ve thought about this a lot, and I’m not sure why anyone would NOT want to know what is going on. It can’t feel good to be left in the dark and leave all the decisions up to the other person. I’d feel isolated, without any control and unappreciated, like my opinion didn’t matter.


  1. […] four issues will start marriage on the right foot. It’s the first and most basic step in developing financial success in a marriage, one that will be healthy and […]

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    […] Enjoyed This Week: • How I bought My Freedom for $25 a Week – The Empowered Dollar • 3 Steps We Took to Develop Financial Success in Our Marriage – Luke1428 • The Story of My Student Loan Debt – The Write Budget • Blogging for Passion or Loot? […]

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