Love and Money

by Joe Plemon on February 3, 2010

Versailles
Creative Commons License photo credit: mateoutah

As I look back on my 39+ years of marriage, I can say that I look forward to another 39+ years of marriage.

I can also say that working together on our finances has been a huge factor for the success of our marriage. We certainly have made our share of mistakes, but we have learned (usually by our mistakes) not only better ways to manage our finances, but better ways of talking and discussing the goals and values that money represents.

With apologies to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, John Lennon and Erich Segal, I would like to share some great love quotes and how they just might apply to marital finances:

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Making a budget together is love. Budgeting is much, much, more than crunching numbers. Sure, the numbers themselves must balance, but what the numbers represent is vital.   Husbands and wives: listen up. The time you spend together discussing your budget is critical for the well being of your marriage. Why? Because how you spend your money is a snapshot of your core values. Granted, this discussion may become testy. The two of you come from different backgrounds and bring different values into your marriage, but this is the opportunity for both of you to become real, to disagree openly, to work toward joint finances which are based on congruent goals and values.  The bible says that “the two shall become one” and Antoine de Saint-Exupery defines love as “looking outward together in the same direction”.

“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.” John Lennon

Making your budget work is love. If all you did was agree on a budget and then stick it in a drawer,  you have just gone through an exercise in futility. True love comes through the nitty gritty of living it out. This requires ongoing communication, re-evaluation and accountability. Keeping a budget means keeping the budget promises you made to each other. Making it work is hard work. But that hard work is the sacrifice that demonstrates your love for each other. Like John Lennon said, “You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.”

“True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked.” Erich Segal

Consistency over a long time is love. This one sneaks up on you. As years pass and the two of you realize incrementally that your plans are working, you develop a deep appreciation for each other. It has taken time, but you have become one. Those diverse values that you brought into your marriage have melded into common values. You have both learned that what is good for your spouse is also good for you, and you discover that you instinctively put the other first. With time, you experience a depth in your relationship that you never thought possible. Like Erich Segal said, “True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights.”

“I want to grow old with you.”Adam Sandler in “The Wedding Singer” and me right now to my wife.

This one is for you, Jan.

 

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

LeanLifeCoach February 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Joe: – Congratulations on a long and happy marriage. Everyone should be so blessed as to enjoy a committed life!

Excellent topic and a very important message. My wife and I were not always the same page with our finances but since we have finally come together I can honestly say, life has never been better!

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joeplemon February 3, 2010 at 5:36 pm

LeanLifeCoach,

Good for you! I am glad that you and your wife have come together on your finances and are doing well. You make my point: it is very difficult to have a great marriage when the two of you are not on the same page with finances. You would probably agree that getting there is usually not a smooth journey, but certainly one well worth it.

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sahmCFO February 5, 2010 at 10:02 am

I love this post! It’s true what you say about making a budget work. We’ve been there where we made a budget and stuck in a drawer. When we really started communicating and telling each other we want to be held accountable only then did we make the REAL move to get out of debt.

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joeplemon February 5, 2010 at 11:20 am

sahmCFO,
Congratulations! I love hearing of couples who are actually stepping up and DOING this money thing. My guess is that by working together, your debt will go away quicker and your relationship will grow deeper. Good stuff!

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Kaush February 15, 2010 at 6:30 am

Wow! We just got married in December and realized quickly that our spending habits are so different. We sat together and for the first time made a budget together and gave each one a different category to pay for. Thanks for this post, I’ll have to get my husband to read it too! We are hoping we can get an early start and truly become one soon.

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joeplemon February 15, 2010 at 9:42 am

Kaush,
Congratulations on your marriage! Yes, your spending habits are different, but working together on your budget will flush out your core values and begin the process of becoming one. Keep it up and both your money and marriage will flourish.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Karen Leight July 8, 2010 at 12:49 am

Saying this half-seriously, when a couple goes to get a marriage license, perhaps there should be a “money compatibility” test to help increase the odds that the marriage will last. (In addition to money compatibility, it seems to me there is clutter compatibility, interest in babies compatibility, and good old chemistry compatibility.)

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joeplemon July 8, 2010 at 7:47 am

Karen,
Haha. How true! Maybe you should invent such a test…it could help lots of marriages and might even earn you a few bucks.

Actually, I have written a post for Christian PF on Premarital Questions to Ask (http://christianpf.com/premarital-financial-counseling-questions-to-ask/) and it hasn’t made me rich and famous…yet.

It is a good thing that I didn’t have to take a clutter compatibility test before getting married (me being the slob). Such a test might have nixed the entire deal. Fortunately we did well enough on the chemistry compatibility to override my clutter shortcomings. 🙂

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