We Thought We Had It All Figured Out
My husband and I met online in 2014 and didn’t meet face-to-face until nearly 6 months later. For six months we built our relationship one text message at a time. By the time that we did meet in person, we had pages and pages full of conversations that would have taken us years to cover in a normal dating situation. There wasn’t a single topic we hadn’t talked about and we sure we had the entire communication thing figured out.
Room For Improvement
During that first year of marriage, I prided myself on always touching base with my husband about purchases. I had heard plenty of horror stories about people spending their spouse’s paycheck on frivolous purchases and not having enough to cover bills. I was at home with the kids during that time and I always made sure to ask what we could spend.
Unfortunately, what we were doing wasn’t enough. We started to get stuck in the habit of having to wait until payday to purchase essentials. Hamburger Helper (sometimes without the hamburger) was our go-to end-of-the-pay-period meal. We weren’t a dual-income household, but we should have had enough money to prevent us from living paycheck to paycheck.
Back To The Drawing Board
So, my husband and I sat down together and had a conversation that literally changed the direction of our marriage and our lives. We needed to figure out where all of our money was going. So, we laid out ALL of the bills; car, insurance, phones, credit cards, everything. I had never used credit cards before our marriage and the only thing that I knew was that all of our credit cards were in good standing. I just about had a heart attack when I found out exactly how many we had. I remember looking at my husband and asking how the balances got so high. He looked at me and said, “Well whenever we want to do things and we don’t have the money in the account I just throw it on a credit card.”
Well so much for my communication skills, right? Every time that I had asked my husband if we could get something, he interpreted it as can we buy it now, or can you make this happen? Meanwhile, I thought he understood that I was asking if we had the funds in the checking account. What he was hearing and what I was saying, weren’t even remotely similar. WE WERE NOT ON THE SAME PAGE AT ALL.
Getting Both of Us Speaking The Same Language
I realized that even though my husband and I talked about EVERYTHING, we were still newly married and continuing to learn about each other. That afternoon we had our first #MoreMarried moment. I explained that when I asked if we could do something, I wasn’t asking him to make it happen, I was simply asking if we had the funds available in our checking account. I remember telling him that I fully expected him to tell me no if that wasn’t the case. He responded by telling me that he felt bad saying no to me and wanted to make me happy.
One conversation, that was all that it took to change our habits. I started getting more involved in our money management. Our credit card usage had stopped and we were started to make some headway on the balances
Why It Is So Important
As a couple, it is so important that you realize that there are actually three components to good communication: talking, listening, and understanding. My husband and I could have gone on for years being stuck in that cycle. We talked, we listened, but we had never taken the time to check in and see if we were both on the same page. Try to imagine where our marriage would have ended up in another five years. Living beyond our means would have left it tarnished and broken. Data released by TD Ameritrade in early 2018 stated that 41% of divorced Gen Xers and 29% of Boomers ended their marriages because of disagreements about money. We could have easily been one of those couples.
Are you and your significant other on the same page? Have you set any financial goals? Who is the spender, who is the saver? Take a moment to discuss some of these topics. Being on the same team when it comes to money might just save your marriage.