Many couples fight over money. It’s no secret that money is one of the leading causes of divorce.
One way to prevent this is to make sure you and your partner are on the same page financially.
Even if divorce or a breakup isn’t an option of you, being on the same page is a great way to reduce stress and arguments in your marriage or relationship.
How do you get on the same page?
Read the Same Book.
That’s right, the first thing to do is to make sure you are reading from the same book. If you’re on the same page but with different books, there are going to be issues.
So what do I mean by that?
For instance, you both may be on the same page with saving. Both of you are avid savers and cutting spending so you can save some money.
However, it could be that you are arguing about what to do with that saved money. Same page, different books.
In my opinion, when you create a marriage or relationship out of love you each set your book to the side (don’t throw it away though) and create a new book together.
You pull from each what you think is great about your financial style and pool it together to create a great style as a couple.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you can help both of you get on the same page of the same book.
Set Aside Your Pride
I’ve had to learn this the hard way over my more than 16 years of marriage. Not only has my wife been right in a lot of situations, but it also puts a strain on our marriage if I don’t consider her side or opinion.
Sometimes I would “listen” to my wife but not actually listen. It was a way of trying to make her feel better even though her opinion didn’t matter.
Pride in all aspects of a relationship has to be set aside to allow for compromise and agreement.
This may be even more important within finance.
Someone who is being prideful doesn’t really consider or listen to their partner’s viewpoint or ideas. They think they know best and will fight to get their way no matter what.
Setting aside your pride will show respect for your partner which in turn will help them set aside their pride. This will:
- Help the relationship as a whole
- Lower the stress level so great decisions can be made
- Open up the conversation and ultimately lead to better ideas (two heads are better than one!)
- Make it easier to get on the same page since you will be using the same book
Try it and see what happens! By letting go of my pride, it allows my wife’s great ideas to shine.
It also has brought on a greater level of trust toward each other, especially with finances.
Give Each Other a Personal Budget and Freedom to Use It
A while back, because I was selfish and had an unhealthy relationship with money, I was extremely one-sided in my spending.
I would criticize my wife for wanting or even needing clothes and then turn around and go buy five $20 Disney movies every few months.
It was not fair or respectful to her. I was “reading” (and writing) a different book on our personal finances than she was.
Besides turning my mindset around, one of the things we decided on together was allowing for a little bit of spending.
We would each get a certain amount per month and be able to use that for whatever we wanted.
If we wanted to save it for something bigger and pool it together with our future month’s personal budget, then great.
If we wanted to spend it all this month, that was fine too.
We could even decide to combine our personal budgets for a month if we want to go out to a nicer dinner or extra movie or something.
With those changes, we are now on the same page.
No longer am I able to criticize my wife because it is her money. It wasn’t our money she was spending or my money. All of it was in her possession.
This has also worked wonders for not only our relationship but also for our spending habits as well.
There isn’t just a pool of extra money that we can pull from. We know we only are given a certain amount each month to spend on ourselves and we make sure we don’t go over.
I highly recommend this step!
Find Common Savings Goals
Much of marriage and relationships is compromise.
There are sure to be things and goals that both of you would like to work toward. Find these common goals and then go after them.
For instance, if you and your partner really want to go to France someday, you can make the decision together to save for that goal.
It is something that excites both of you and it’s a “prize” for both of you to keep your eyes on.
The end result of saving is a wonderful week (or longer!) in France.
These savings goals can be small or large. All that matters is that you and your partner agree on it.
Now, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be individual goals that you want to pursue.
If you incorporate the personal budget step above, this is as simple as using your personal budget to set personal goals and then using other extra money for your common goal.
Be Transparent with Each Other
This is a very important step in this process.
If you and your partner are working on getting on the same page of the same book, then it’s important to be completely open and honest with each other.
Bring up your concerns. Reveal your bad money habits.
Say what you think will work and what won’t work about the financial plan.
Talking about these things in the beginning stages of working this out is crucial to success.
Not only do you want to be talking it out before agreeing to a plan, but you will also want to continue to have open communication while the financial plan is in motion.
Perhaps both of you agree on a certain spending limit, but one or both of you is noticing that it isn’t really working out as planned.
Bring that up, go over it again, and make some changes as necessary.
Now, this could be something like one of you saying, “Hey, I’m going stir crazy over here. Can we talk about having just a bit more money to spend so I can be motivated to continue with our finances this way?”
Or it could be something like, “Hey, so I’ve noticed that neither of us tends to spend near our personal allowances. Do you want to cut some of that out and put more towards our debt or savings?”
Be real and be honest with each other. You won’t regret it.
Much of what makes a great relationship relies on communication and putting our partners before ourselves.
As you continue to go through this process, I encourage you to look in the mirror first rather than use these tips as a way to say “Hey, partner! You need to work on these!”
In my experience, I’ve noticed that there is always some selfishness for me to set aside first.
Setting aside my selfishness allows me to come to the table for discussion with my wife’s best interest in mind.
If both sides of the relationship are putting the other first, then there is no reason to be selfish and think of yourself first. Someone else is already!
The same can be said for financial planning.
Communication is key as well as setting aside your own book so you can get on the same page in a new financial book—together.
I encourage you to use these steps to stay on the same page, reduce the stress on the relationship, and accomplish your financial goals more quickly.