Who you marry is one of the most important financial decisions you can make. Financial incompatibility, in fact, is one of the main reasons couples get divorced.
These aren’t exactly romantic considerations, but they are practical: Are one or both of you bringing debt? Do you have similar credit history? Are your goals aligned? Will you have children? And on and on.
There’s no shortage of advice out there about how to get on the same page, and most of it involves making compromises: You’re in this together, and you each need to give so you both can get. Plan a date night once a month, split responsibilities, make sure you’re honest with each other from the jump, etc.
But in a recent episode of the podcast Forever 35, Amanda Clayman, a financial therapist, explains that rather than thinking of each decision as a compromise, reframe the conversation. Think about what’s most important to you and to your spouse, and how money can help each of you accomplish what you want. Move away from compromise, and into co-giving, suggests Clayman.
One question to pose to your beau: “How can I give in ways that allow...our money to be a resource for what you need, and how can you give to me so that money can be a resource for what I need?”
Recognise that you’re each bringing different strengths, weaknesses and perspectives to your relationship.
“I think we have to stop trying to be right when it comes to money, and that’s really tricky because money is really tied to our most basic survival,” she says. Rather “think of it in terms if ‘I bring these pieces to our life, and my partner brings these other pieces to our life, how do we make these fit together as well as we can?’”
Rather than thinking there’s a right and wrong way to spend, save, or invest money, couples should work through why they’re feeling a certain way, together. There’s never a single right way to do anything, particularly with money.
“Money is such a wonderful tool for compromise, it really is,” she says. “If we stop saying like, ‘savings is good and spending is bad,’ or like, ‘you’re being a miser and you need to live for today,’ if we come out of these absolutes, there’s tremendous opportunity for us to say, ‘I need to save X, you want to spend Y, how can we negotiate with each other.’”
Money Talks | Forever 35