My husband and I lived paycheck to paycheck for the first six years of our marriage. At times we didn’t even have enough money to cover the bare necessities.
It’s no secret that financial worries can lead to a lot of stress in the marriage, but here are three things we always kept in mind that helped preserve our marriage and our sanity during those rough years.
- Work together to make a responsible financial plan that you can both agree on. My husband never budgeted before he met me, because he never spent any money. He lived very simply, buying only the absolute necessities and putting everything else into savings. By contrast, I always budgeted because I liked to have the financial flexibility to have a little fun, eat at restaurants, and go shopping without relying on credit cards.. We had two different approaches to finances, but we agreed to meet in the middle when we got married. We both follow a budget because the stress that comes from buying things we can’t afford isn’t worth it. In order to make steps toward greater financial freedom, we made a commitment to put money in savings and to payoff our debt.
- Make room for fun. It can be easy to let financial stress take over every aspect of your life. When you aren’t working to pay the bills, you are talking about the bills. However, leisure time shouldn’t be a luxury. It’s a necessity for a happy life.. We’ve found inexpensive things to do with each other, like taking long walks or going to the library to find books and free movies to enjoy together. We would also host potluck game nights with friends. This is a cost effective way to eat because if each person brought a dish to pass it adds up to a full meal for everyone. We also created a poetry group for a creative, intellectual outlet. We found our own separate hobbies. I got into crafting and my computer geek husband loves programming.
- Remember that your marriage is worth more than any amount of money. I’ll never forget the words of a woman that I worked with who was going through a divorce: “I never thought it’d be us. We used to do everything together and we had so much fun.” At some point in their marriage her husband figured out a way to make a fortune, so they decided that he would move across the country to make his millions while she stayed where their children went to school. His endless hours working for financial success came at great cost. He made his millions, but he and his wife divorced. My husband and I were really struggling to make ends meet, but her story made me realize how truly rich we were. There have been times that when we’ve both needed to work because there was no other way we could survive. There have also been times when we’ve consciously chosen to live very simply, because we decided that the extra money wasn’t worth the potential cost to our family.
Though my husband and I haven’t always seen eye to eye when it comes to financial matters, we’ve both grown since our early days.We’ve figured out a way to pay enough attention to money to be responsible with it, yet not so much that it takes over our relationship. Our relationship with one another and our children comes first.
“I married you for your money,” I told my husband one time. He laughed, knowing that I was joking because we had always just barely scraped by.
“Just kidding,” I said. “I’d rather live in a cardboard box with you than a mansion without you.” And he knew I meant it.
Money doesn’t bring happiness but healthy and thriving relationships do.