Words like "budget," "bills," or "expenses" can instantly raise the stress level in some marriages, but the common family spends and receives money on a weekly if not daily basis, so the more communication about it, the better. Here are some helpful tips on how to get on the same page with your fellow significant consumer (err... other) in your life!
Recognize Each Other's Strengths
Recently my wife said no to an impulse buy she'd been eyeing. Sometimes it's possible to spoil, but other times I have to remember the bills and expenses and have to say no. My wife does a terrific job at watching what she buys. Instead of just noticing, I've found it helpful to praise her for such self-control. As a mother of toddlers, she needs to shop quite a bit. This means giving her trust with our finances and it means me taking the time to acknowledge and thank her for handling our budget well. If your spouse is particularly gifted in a financial area, acknowledge it! Don't let strengths go unnoticed. This will help as you both plan and prepare for financial goals.
Find the Page You Both Need to Be On
I didn't do a great job of communicating the goals I had for our finances at the beginning of our marriage. This became a domino effect of chaos as our expenses began to pile up. I was left with two options. Continue to try to tackle our goals on my own, or start communicating well with my bride. I chose the second option and I am so thankful for it. Your spouse will be blessed by having you sit down with them and talk about the goals you guys have for the family finances. Work as a team and give each other specific tasks to tackle debt, save for the future, and find areas where frugality could be strengthened. Don't try to be the sole caretaker of your finances. If you do, you may feel overwhelmed and burdened while your spouse sits on the sidelines waiting for you to talk. More often than not, your spouse will be ready to work with you as you two live life together.
Spoil Your Spouse
You never spoil your utility bill, and you never splurge your water bill either. Remember, your spouse isn't a bill or line item in your budget, so don't treat them like one. My wife does have a budget, but I'm still able to spoil my most favorite person on Earth after putting a little bit of my portion aside. This act is a blessing to give and it's a blessing for her to receive. If you have a little stash available, splurge every once in a while. This is a healthy way to say "I know we have a budget, but you're worth it."
Money can be a stressful part of a marriage, but it doesn't have to be. I understand that a variety of people may be reading this who aren't in this category, but I think it's an important dialogue to have if you are married or getting married one day. Money doesn't grow on trees, but it doesn't mean it has to be hard to talk about. Take time to praise your spouse's financial awareness, work hard to get on the same page, and splurge every once in a while.