In general, each spouse champions different roles within their marriage, whether it be cooking, cleaning, finances, repair work, gardening, etc. In our marriage for example, I manage the finances. Let’s be honest finances are rarely fun. Dealing with the financial aspect of our relationship, made me feel at times like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. During times of frustration I felt like Jon was oblivious as to what was going on and how hard I was working to make sure not only that the bills were paid but that we were saving and had money to do the things we enjoyed. I had to understand, that it wasn’t his lack of interest that was keeping him from understanding, it was my lack of sharing. Now, let me clarify, my lack of sharing was not because I was trying to hold anything back from him but rather that I was too busy in my little world of numbers to understand that he wanted to be involved.
Prior to getting married and now as an occasional “tune-up”, we attend Marriage Counseling. We do this to ensure we were on the same page, communicating well and prior to getting married, that had worked through the small issues we had. I’d have to say one of the best pieces of advice we received from our Counselor was to communicate about our finances. She suggested that we take an hour out of our week to have a business meeting, to communicate about our “business” aka our marriage. In this case the business meeting would include an overview of our finances, goals, events, etc. As the words left her lips, a light bulb went off in my head, this was it, this is just what we needed.
Being the all-to-often overachiever that I am, I took the idea and ran with it. I came up with an agenda, printed out our mint.com roll-up and prepared for our first meeting. We decided our first meeting would be at Starbucks, as to not have any of the at home distractions interrupting us. We went through our finances, goals and upcoming events. Doing this helped give Jon the information he was missing out on, it helped me to communicate to him what support he could offer, helped him to understand what it took for me to keep things going and get his buy-in towards obtaining our goals.
With more responsibility came less time for these meetings and over the span of a couple of years, this ritual slowly faded away. As our finances become more involved, with expenses such as infertility testing/treatments, buying a house, saving for retirement, etc. we have began to incorporate these meetings back into our weekly routine.
Feel free to use the Business Meeting Agenda template I developed if you think it would be helpful in your relationship.
I do have to say these meetings work wonders for our marriage and they really help to eliminate a lot of those unnecessary spats over our finances. If I could offer my advice to you, it is to find a way to communicate about your finances that works for your marriage. As one of the leading causes of divorce is financial and the disagreements that come with that, it important to communicate and discuss them regularly to ensure you are on the same page.