Friday, June 29, 2012

MMS: What's Mine is Mine & What's Yours is...Mine

I like to bet. 
And I would put money down that nobody has ever said the words,
"Man, I wish my spouse would micromanage the way I spend money."

I feel I can speak a little about managing finances in marriage because we have been DINKs (dual income, no kids), and SINKs (single income, not as fun).

Rewind 5 years...

When Brian and I graduated college, we took jobs at the same company, and made the exact same salary.
Cheers -- equality for women!
(Although for the record, I don't know why those women fought so hard for it because now not only do we have to cook, clean, and raise children, we are also expected to work and stay in shape) 

Throughout our time dating, Brian would pick up most things, and I would contribute from time to time.  After a couple of years, once we had discussed marriage, it was pretty much whomever reached their wallet first.  And though we didn't live together or combine finances until we were married, we had had the awkward conversations all couples MUST have about the way we view money -- how it should be spent, tithing, what's important, saving, etc.  And we were on the same page! 

Fast forward 2 years...

I brought home some dresses.   
The conversation went something like this...

"Wow, why did you buy 5 dresses?"
"Because we have weddings."
"And you NEED 5 dresses?"
"Well I NEED food, water, and shelter.  But I WANT 5 dresses."
"That's a waste."
"Why is it a waste?"
"Because it's wasteful to have 5 new dresses."
"And golf weekend wasn't a waste?"
"Why? It seems like a waste to me."
"That's different."

I won't bore you with the rest, but it got a little ugly.  
Ugly enough that I remember this argument from 3 years ago.  
Did I really need 5 dresses?
Absolutely not, and I would never buy 5 now.  So yes, it was a waste. 
And honestly, I didn't intend to keep them all...until after Brian started asking about them.  

Do you see what transpired from our discussion? 
Going back and forth and dragging up what the other person had deemed as valuable.
To me, having a physical dress provided value, and golf was a waste.
To Brian, the dress seemed like a waste and his day on the golf course had provided value.
But the point is not that Brian needs to value my dress and I need to value his golfing...
The point is that I need to value what is important to Brian and vice versa, and respect what he chooses to spend money on.

Don't get me wrong, you can and should speak up about what the other person is spending from time to time.  And you should absolutely discuss big things so that resentment doesn't build and you don't wind up with some crazy debt.  But be respectful and courteous and don't attack their choices.  Try to understand where they are coming from and just because something seems frivolous to you, it may not to them.    

Fast forward 1 year...

Brian quits work in July 2010 before he starts school full-time.
We had never been happier than when we started truly viewing everything as "ours", even though we had less to work with.
There is a great partnership that is formed when you are sharing resources and working as a team. 
And my biggest warning to anyone who is married, getting married, plans to get married, is that you should do everything in your power to view your finances as a partnership. 
That means that even if you make twice as much as your spouse, your money is no more yours than it is theirs.
 Besides, you never know when the tides could turn.
And how would you feel if they viewed the money as theirs?

It's hard to part with what feels like "mine".
It's hard to see the fruits of your labor go towards something you may not experience in a direct/tangible way.
But, what good is something if you can't share it with someone you love?
No good at all.



1 comment:

dkirkward said...

Awesome post, and a hugely important part is what you said about respecting what each other values and wants to spend money on!

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