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Marriage and Money Advice for Newlyweds

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Since Jim is newly married and off on his honeymoon, I thought I’d take the time to focus on marriage and money. I’ve been married almost 13 years, and though my husband and I don’t argue about money much these days, there are a few things I wish I would have realized at the beginning of my marriage. It would have made the first few years a lot easier.

Your Priorities Will Be Different

This one seems obvious, but it’s often not to newly married couples. Too often couples get married and expect to agree on most things. Sometimes the difference is dramatic. The wife wants to buy a whole new wardrobe every season, while the husband wants to sock away lots of money for retirement. Or it might be more subtle. The husband might have a Star Wars collection that the wife just doesn’t understand.

Whatever the difference, it’s important to discuss things calmly and compromise. Putting away money for retirement is obviously very important, but if your wife is feeling strangled, because you complain every time she buys a new skirt, you’re headed for trouble. Realize your spouse’s priorities and compromise on those things.

A good example of this is Gibble, who recently bought his wife a new engagement ring after the original ring was lost. Yes, the money could have been used for debt repayment, but this was very important to his wife, and I think he made a wise choice.

Good Communication is Key

Talk and talk often. As the years go on, individuals change and grow. Priorities change. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open, so you are always on the same page with the finances. By talking about little issues as they come up, you can avoid the big all out fights that seem to happen when an issue festers and isn’t dealt with right away.

My husband loves sports. If it were up to him, we’d have every seasonal sports package on our satellite subscription, he’d subscribe to all the big sports magazines, and we’d have satellite radio, so he could listen to every game he wanted to in the car. That’s not going to happen.

Still, there are plenty of times when my husband comes home with a Fantasy Football magazine, or a NASCAR publication. I don’t understand the need to buy the magazines, because you can get all the information online. However, since I’m constantly in communication with my husband, I realize that this is how he relaxes. Knowing that, it’s much easier to just let the spending slide as long as it’s not out of control.

Be Honest

There will be a time when one of you does something financially stupid that you don’t want to ‘fess up to. Here’s my advice. Come clean. Right away. Trust and honesty are much more important in a marriage than saving face. It might be a difficult conversation, but in the long run, your willingness to be honest with your spouse will pay big dividends.

For the Men: Allow Your Wife to Buy Pretty Things

I know a lot of men think pretty clothes and soft throw pillows for the couch are a waste of money. But for a woman, these things make her feel feminine. You will have a much happier wife if you allow her these little indulgences. And if you allow her to indulge herself, she’s a lot less likely to complain when you buy the sports magazines.

For the Women: Respect Your Man

There may be times when your husband’s career doesn’t go as planned. He may even lose his job at some point. Nobody plans for these things when they get married, but little hiccups in the career are a part of life.

If your husband is discouraged on his job, you need to be extra encouraging at home. According to my husband, there’s nothing worse than feeling like a failure on the job, only to come home and feel like a failure with your wife. When your husband’s job isn’t going well, if you continue to support him, it will boost his morale and help him stay motivated to find a better job. He will also never forget that you stood by his side in the trenches of life.

Keep communicating, be understanding, and remember you are on the same team. That’s what it all comes down to.

Congratulations Jim and Mrs. Jim! I hope you have a wonderful time on your honeymoon!

This is a guest post by Lynnae of Being Frugal.net, a blog about frugal living and paying off debt. If you like this post (and I trust you will), subscribe to Lynnae’s blog via RSS or email, you will not be disappointed.

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16 Responses to “Marriage and Money Advice for Newlyweds”

  1. Tim says:

    The last two points go both ways. Respect each other. Women also need to allow men to buy their toys.

  2. savvy says:

    Great post. I agree with Tim about allowing men to buy their toys too. I don’t even want to add up all that I’ve spent on ‘decor’ that hubby really doesn’t care about. Therefore, I don’t begrudge him spending ~$150/yr on the NFL Sunday Ticket. He really does watch that much football and it’s not that big of an expense.

  3. You’re both very right. The last two points really do go both ways. Savvy – my husband likes to buy the sports stuff, too.

  4. Ggrrl says:

    Frankly, I’m a bit taken aback by the sexist nature of the last two bits of “advice.” Men, ALLOW your women to buy things and women ENCOURAGE your men when they can’t find work. Is this 1950? While I agree that the advice is sound when applied to both sexes, the advice is undermined by the fact that its author apparently believes that men are the sole bread winners and control the finances.

  5. jayne says:

    i’m with Ggrrl. this is unbelievably offensive.

  6. Myrrh says:

    Thanks, Ggrrl and jayne, glad I’m not the only one.

    What happened to spouses being partners? Both of us work, both of us bring in a paycheck, both of us have our little indulgences and both of us need encouragement.

    And it just so happens that one of us has a Stargate collection — and it’s me.

  7. Adfecto says:

    @ “feminist” commenters

    Just because an author writes a piece that refers to the stereotypical gender roles, it does not make it sexist or offensive. Bloggers write from their own perspectives. Are you going to think I am sexist simply because I happen to be a “sole bread winner and control the finances?” That is the perspective I write from, but it does not mean that I am a sexist person. What is wrong with a woman respecting her man or picking him up when he has hard times?

    Your offense comes from wrongfully implying that a man should NOT respect his woman and that a man should NOT support his wife if she has professional struggles. Your over zealous feminism is creating something that is not there in the first place. It is incorrect logic to imply subtext when it was never intended (if A implies B and NOT A implies NOT B, that does not always mean NOT B implies NOT A). Don’t waist your life looking for nitpicks and finding insult where none is intended. Sure the post isn’t the perfect one size fits all look at relationships and money, but rather than be “unbelievably offended,” instead realize that this post is written in a positive way. It was not about putting women down but saying that they should be supportive and couples need to recognize their differences and compromise. What is so terrible about that?

  8. Myrrh says:

    Adfecto,

    I have no desire to get in a flame war. My offense came from the word “allow.”

    Allow implies control. When a man or woman has control over their spouse’s decisions, not just a say in them, it is sexist — no matter the source of the control.

  9. Lee says:

    I think it’s a good article, showing the best ways to deal with finances as a couple…if you’ve read any of Lynnae’s writings before, you’d know that she just writes to help others. So just take it in that spirit.
    Lynnae, I believe you’ve made some valid points, and we definitely need the reminder to be understanding of each other’s enjoyment and always respect our spouse…and above all, love them! I don’t ever want to be so frugal-minded that I take all of my husband’s enjoyment of life away. That’s what marriage is, thinking of the other more than ourselves:)

  10. Myrrh says:

    Lynnae,

    Rereading my post, I realize that I didn’t try to be helpful, for that I apologize.

    This is a guest post. Many of us have never read your blog. I believe it would have been good for you tell a little more about your life (I’m a homemaker, my husband is the breadwinner) and then expand on the subject of your post — this is what works for us… As opposed to a general “this will work for all of you”

    I read many blogs written by people with whom I have little in common; there is a man who often writes about the importance of tithing to his church. And while I’m not Christian, the way he presents his information (again with the “this is what works for us”), has had an effect upon my charitable donations.

    I guess this tl;dr post can be boiled down to know your audience.

    Thank you for sharing with us, and thank you for your attention.

  11. Hi all! I’m sorry for not checking in earlier. It’s been a busy day.

    I will admit that this was a last minute guest post, so it didn’t get the usual editorial attention that I usually give my posts. And I can certainly see how someone who’s never read my blog would be offended, and I’m sorry for that.

    I only know one perspective, and that’s mine. I’m coming from the perspective of a stay at home mom in a one income family. Allow was probably not the best choice of words. But I do know that my husband doesn’t tend to notice stuff like throw pillows or nice wall hangings, and at the beginning of our marriage, he saw them as a frivolous use of money. Perhaps I should have said, “don’t argue with your wife when she wants to buy something for the home.”

    As far as respect goes, I know that respect is important for both members of the couple. In my experience, though, it’s vital for a husband to feel respected. We just went through a time when my husband had lost his job, and honestly that’s what I was thinking about when I wrote that last part. In a stressful situation, sometimes it’s easy to turn on your spouse and blame them. Instead, it’s important to reassure them that you believe in them. And since in our case, it was my husband that needed the reassurance, that’s how it came out in my writing.

    So thanks for pointing out things I could have changed, and thanks for not flaming me! I’ll try to be more clear next time. :)

  12. saladdin says:

    “However, since I’m constantly in communication with my husband, I realize that this is how he relaxes. Knowing that, it’s much easier to just let the spending slide as long as it’s not out of control.”

    I can use this quote and use it to answer the question “Saladdin, why aren’t you married?”

    “Let it slide.” Funny stuff.

    saladdin

  13. Ggrrl says:

    Lynnae:

    I didn’t mean to drag you over the coals. As I said, I was a bit taken aback. Overall, I thought your post was great, and, as other commentators have mentioned, when I hear about your situation, I feel more comfortable with your observations – not that my comfort matters. My situation is exactly the opposite of yours. I am the sole breadwinner and my partner has been unemployed for the last two months. Your post struck a cord – that’s a good thing. But then again, according to Adfecto, I’m an “overzealous feminist.” Ha.

  14. Meg says:

    I too agree that it’s always appropriate for both partners to respect each other’s indulgences and offer encouragement, etc. I also briefly recoiled at the “allow” and other subtle potentially sexist references. But I also quicky acknowledged that many couples DO engage in traditional (if sexist) gender roles, and that if you are in one of those relationships this is all very good advice for both sides.

    But as much of a feminist as I am, I also agree with Lynnae that no matter who earns what in the relationship, advising women to offer encouragement to the men in their lives is good advice that I’ve never really considered. It’s not that we women don’t need respect too, but I do think that being encouraging to men doesn’t occur to many women, especially of my young demographic.

    We younger women have grown up being encouraged so strongly, asserting ourselves in every way, focusing intently on pushing up to and surpassing men, earning money, being independent. This is all well and good and long overdue. But in the process, no one (least of all women) is encouraging the men anymore. And they’re feeling more and more like failures – or at least that they’re not as important/valued/necessary anymore.

    Far be it for me to feel sorry for the manfolk after all we women have endured, but the fact of the matter is that men are actually very vulnerable and often insecure creatures who can and do crumble emotionally in the face of a lack of encouragement, especially when they are struggling. Men are conditioned to solve, to satisfy, to support, to be strong, to succeed. When they fall short we modern women are quick to harass them, to claim victory, to express dissatisfaction, to dumpt them, or to sigh wearily and take over yet ANOTHER responsibility he can’t handle (whether it be changing the diapers or bringing home a paycheck).

    “Sexist” or not, remembering to offer encouragement even when we don’t feel like it is probably good advice–for both genders, to be sure, but especially for women.

  15. Katie says:

    I, too, was taken back by the tone (and contrary to at least one opinion expressed above, gender stereotyping is sexism).

    But I want to offer the practical solution that has worked for us: separate “allowance” accounts for personal, both needed and wanted, items: going out for drinks, eating out for lunch, clothes, gadgets, haircuts etc. Neither one of us ever questions what the other is spending. It also allows room for gifts without the other one seeing.

    However, I will note that we still check in with each other on bigger ticket items, even with this freedom, just because we like a second opinion. As in, “what do you think of this phone?”, “do you like this shirt, etc.”

  16. Pat Schneider says:

    Hi, I thought the advice was right on as far as compromising and respect, I also know how hard it is if there is no communication. I do want to point out and have done so now for 38 happy years of marriage, I am a female and my husband is a male, we are DIFFERENT, we have different needs and if everyone would ALLOW us to be who we are there wouldn’t be as many problems with gender issues. I think the first part of your article priorities and communication was the common sense part that we all tend to overlook. Some good observations and advice thanks.


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