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I have yet to meet any married couple that has not argued about money. Am I wrong? Am I living under a rock? I think it comes with the territory when you get married. The source of financial and marital peace comes from a few rules that couples should agree to.
Here are 4 rules that I consider to be at the core of any marriage and how to handle all financial issues. I am not a marriage counsellor, but I am married.
Rule 1: You are equals and you depend on each other. There is no “my money” or “her money” or “his money.” There is only “our money.”
It doesn’t matter if you earn fifty times as much as your spouse. The moment you agree to entwine your lives, you’ve both drastically altered your individual decision-making processes. You are no longer making choices just for yourself. You are making choices for both of you.
Rule 2: Once you go beyond spending limits agreed upon with your spouse, you are damaging your marriage.
If you’ve sat down with your spouse and agreed that you can each spend $200 a month on hobbies and entertainment and you choose to spend $250 because, well, you really want that item and you don’t check with your spouse first, you’re choosing to damage your marriage.
Marriage is about trust. When you pledge something to your spouse, your spouse should be able to trust you on that word. When you make a choice to knowingly overextend your budget, it’s not just your own financial future that’s affected. Your spouse is affected, too.
Rule 3: Your spouse has a right to call you out on your spending.
If your spouse notices something that might indicate that your spending is out of control, he or she has the right to say something to you, and they should be able to do that without a negative response from you.
Again, their future is at stake here. Marriage isn’t about the things you want in the moment. It’s about the things both of you want and need, both now and for the rest of your lives.
Rule 4: If your spouse is worried about something, listen and respect it, even if you don’t feel it’s worthy of worry.
Sometimes, all you need to do is listen and be serious and respectful about the concern. There might not be any action to take. Sometimes, you’re still going to feel as though the issue wasn’t that big of a deal.
The thing that matters is that you’re paying attention and that, even if you don’t find it personally important, you know that your partner finds it to be important. Even if you don’t see it as a crisis, you can still be a major positive force in resolving your partner’s concern.
This weekend, tell your partner about these rules and see if it makes a difference to how you manage your finances.