Shelle Edit: So we have a new Contributor for the Mars team!!! Let him know what you think and then go visit his blog where he talks about music and happenings with him and his three girls!!! But watch out... he might challenge you to a dance off! :)
My ex didn’t learn early on either. She had a much leaner childhood, as far as money was concerned, and with that poor real-life education and without structured education about money, that also had a big impact on our marriage.
We married in 2000. We’re separated at the moment, but expect a divorce to be finalized sometime this year. That gave us 10 years to learn things the hard way. A lot happened in those 10 years, including 2 home purchases and 3 kids. At one point I was making pretty good money; for a young family anyway. We made a bad decision with that money and got into a very ‘house poor’ situation. We sold that house 3 years ago and it’s still a problem. So much a problem that I’m planning on filing for bankruptcy.
I believe money is a catalyst. You’ve probably heard the bible verse 1 Timothy 6:10 misquoted a time or two; “Money is the root of all evil.” The correct quote is “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
Being a catalyst, something else has to be involved to create a reaction. I called this post “Money affected my relationship because...”, because in and of itself, money was not the problem. The problem was unrealistic expectation, along with misunderstanding and poor communication.
They all tie in together, but from the beginning we never discussed our expectations and thoughts about money. Well, to be honest, we didn’t discuss much about anything. (Hence the “ex.”) Starting a relationship with at least some understanding of how your partner thinks about money is very important. How each of you think about money may be very different. In her case, I believe fear played a big part in how she thought about money. Money was the difference between happiness and anger; between hungry or not. I had no idea she thought that way. As for me, money was never a big issue. That became a problem because I was lazy and had some unrealistic expectations. I figured no matter what happened, we would be fine.
Because of what we learned the hard way, I’ve made a personal vow to make sure my kids understand how money works and how to properly handle it. My dad never taught me. I don’t think because he couldn’t or didn’t want to, but I think he assumed school took care of it. If it did, I must have missed that class. But then again, where would I be now if I hadn’t learned the hard way?
I’m not entirely sure how I would handle it in the future, if I married again. Friends of ours have some of the same issues my ex and I had, like conflicting money management styles, but they make it work somehow. A lot of it is extreme patience and an understanding that there is more than one way to do it. I have a cousin who is a stay at home mom and gets an allowance from her husband. She likes it because she doesn’t have to do any of the bookkeeping. Some people keep their finances totally separate. Each has an income, separate checking accounts, and split the financial responsibilities.
I still believe that my girls and I will be fine, no matter what happens, but now understand how important proper communication about money is. It’s important for maintaining a strong relationship through understanding and realistic expectations, as well as reducing the potential for bad money decisions sabotaging a relationship.
How has money affected your relationships? How do you and your partner handle money? If you don’t like how it’s handled now, how would you rather do it and what are you going to do to change it? Who wants to join me in reviving the barter system?
1 year ago