Have you ever felt like your spouse was put in your life to make it ten times harder? That may sound a little harsh, but I’m sure we’ve all had that feeling a time or two. While most of the time your spouse is your best friend, your number one go-to person, there are other days that remind you that you are two totally different people with two completely different brains and thought processes.
This reality came to me when the topic of joining our bank accounts together after we got married came up. My husband and I are actually on the same page when it comes to money (which is a huge blessing) but the way we execute our ideas are a little different. Before I got married, every paycheck would look something like this:
- Determine exactly how much I got paid.
- Check my planner for what bills I had coming due that pay period.
- Subtract said bills from paycheck to determine how much money was left over.
- Give myself enough cash to buy food and put gas in my car for the next two weeks.
- Immediately pay everything else on my debt.
This system worked amazing for me because my necessities were getting met and the rest of my money was pushed out of my account before I was able to spend it on anything else. Everything changed whenever my husband and I finally decided to merge our bank accounts together.
Now that my paychecks were going into a joint account that I didn’t have sole control over, I had to discuss every decision with my spouse. Every time I got paid, I had to ask him, “How much of this should we keep and what should I do with the rest? Put it in savings, pay it towards debt, or what?” This loss of independence completely derailed me and my debt-destroying efforts.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t “allowed” to do what I wanted with my money like before. After all, the bills were getting paid, so why should anything else have to change just because we joined accounts? It’s hard to pinpoint what went wrong. All I know is that when you join your life with another person, things are inevitably going to change. Your ideas are not always going to be “right” or “just the way things are” anymore. You have another person to consider in every single decision that you make, and that alone can cause an adjustment period to happen.
It took some trial and error to get through this adjustment period and to the other side. The only thing that worked was talking and dreaming with my husband frequently. When we talked about our money, we realized we had so many of the same goals. My biggest goal was to get out of debt, and he completely agreed with me. We also determined that we wanted a fairly large emergency fund established before we started a family, and that we would like to take a few dream vacations that would surely cost a decent chunk of change.
Once we had our goals established, it was easy to make a plan from there. While before my husband would usually just let his paychecks sit in the checking account, now we could move a portion over to savings and pay a portion to a credit card we agreed on. While I still gave up some of the control when my paychecks came in, I was now able to get back to working towards my goal of debt-freedom since knowing that my husband had the same desire as me as well. My system now looked something like this:
- Determine exactly how much I got paid.
- Check my planner for what bills we had coming due that pay period.
- Subtract said bills from paychecks to determine how much money was left over.
- Figure out with husband which goal we were most focused on for now.
- Apply leftover money to budget categories, then said goal.
As you can see, my system didn’t change very much. Quite simply, it went from being “me centered” to “us centered.” This can be said about so much in marriage, and if you have a conflict in your relationship, I encourage you to inspect yourself and determine if the problem starts there.
Budgeting in marriage can be hard work. You have to sit down with your spouse and face your money management habits, even if you think they are good habits. But these sit-down sessions also give you the chance to dream with your spouse about what your future looks like, and how your money management is going to get you there. With enough practice, patience, and compromise, anything is possible with your spouse, including getting on the same page with your money.
Have you and your spouse ever went through a budgeting adjustment period? How did you get through it? Leave your response in the comments below!