Long-term Investment in Love
Valentine's Day is upon us. Love is in the air. We’ve all heard that love will keep us together, but what happens once we’ve been successfully coupled for a while? Eventually, most couples discover that the person they love and adore is a fellow human with failures, phobias, bad habits, and the like. When that realization takes hold it's good to have something more than love (or lust) to keep you together.
Perhaps there are couples out there who are similar in every way. They have the same beliefs; enjoy the same hobbies, the same books, the same places. Perhaps those same couples have no secrets and feel comfortable all day long with each other, each other's friends, and each other’s families. And of course, they also see eye-to-eye in matters of faith, money, how to raise the kids, and even what football team they want to support.
Then there's the rest of us.
It’s not uncommon for one of the people to think that money is a way to have enjoyment and happiness in life while the other person sees money as a way to gain safety and protection. One ends up a spender and the other a saver - and they don't really understand each other.
Other money struggles are common for couples. Often one believes their union assumes a union of finances--joint accounts, family budget, and a discussion of any spending—while the other feels like shared money should only be for shared expenses. Some people are tied to preconceived gender roles when it comes to money management; some believe the man should control the finances, others believe it falls under woman’s work.
It’s easy to see how problems arise. And escalate. Disagreements over money are often reported as one of the main reasons a couple separates. But I believe the main problem is a failure to communicate. Couples fail to discuss their differences. That’s the first step. Discuss and acknowledge; discuss and debate; discuss and work out; discuss and develop a way that each can find contentment in the decisions that are made.
This is crucial whether we are talking about money, religion, politics, sports, education or business. Building a working relationship requires effective communication. Without it, a wall builds between the two. If that wall grows too high and too strong it may become nearly impossible for them to break it down and join together again. They will live physically together yet functionally apart; or even just walk away. So before you let those walls build too high, reach across to your love and talk. Be the one who is willing to be vulnerable and share where you see problems or impasses (and no, it’s not all them). And if you're on the other side of that wall and your love reaches across and steps on your toes a bit, know that they do this because of love. Keep the communication flowing, and the sense of Valentine’s Day can last all year long.
This article was published under the title "Wedding Financial Attitudes" in the Wichita Falls Times Record Newson February 10, 2013.