This year the Mr. and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary. That’s right. TEN YEARS. A decade. In the time we’ve been together we could have conceived and raised a 4th grader. We didn’t yet, our kids are still little but we could have.
I’m sure many people out there have secrets to a great marriage and can tell you how communication is the key. I’m going to tell you how to SURVIVE marriage. Because if you don’t survive marriage, then there’s nothing to communicate.
Why survive? Why does it sound so absolute… either you do or you don’t, right? Well many of us can live in a marriage for years and not be happy. A little part of you dies inside when you live in a crappy, loveless marriage where you’d rather work than spend time with your spouse. Where the dream of taking a vacation usually includes pictures of you alone on a beach reading or with your friends. Surviving a marriage is key these days. Survival of self and your relationship with your companion.
Remember when you got engaged? It was all kisses and late night talks. Then you got married, combined your checking account into a “joint account” and 2 years later you’re arguing over why you do or do NOT need that new TV.
How does this happen?
Ok let me explain before you discount my theory.
Joining your lives together means that you will have bills together. Mortgage, car payments, etc. Usually one of you is the “breadwinner” and the other is the “bread eater”?? (I don’t know what the other one is, I just figured if someone wins it then the other has to eat it right?). All of this bread goes into a big bowl and everyone eats from it. Joint Checking. Let me tell you how to keep from arguing over who deserves to decide how to distribute the bread.
When one person makes more than the other, or in our case, one of us makes money and the other doesn’t. The person who doesn’t bring home any bacon (another food analogy… I’m on a roll) feels like they have no right to decide what to do with it. Or in an effort to prove their worthiness they make a huge effort to feel equal and important. The person who makes the money also feels this internal struggle. And then you argue. And there’s tension.
Households don’t run unless there’s money. Regardless of who is making the biggest deposits into your account, money always complicates things. Let me introduce you to the answer:
One JOINT Account for Bills and household necessities
Two INDIVIDUAL accounts (one for each of you) with a pre-determined amount deposited into it every pay period. The amount must be the same for each party.
Here’s how it works. On pay day or whatever frequency works for you, you each get an amount deposited into your individual accounts. Let’s say it’s $100 every two weeks. This is your paycheck. You each get the exact same amount. With this money you can do whatever you want. It’s YOUR money. Buy a handbag or makeup. Gadgets, hobbies and all things that are not deemed necessary come out of YOUR money. The husband and I even take our entertainment out of our own accounts. That way if we are eating out then one of us has to pay. It’s kind of like a date. Plus this levels the playing field when it comes to how much money you make. Do I still feel the pressure sometimes because I don’t bring home a regular paycheck? Yes. But I’m not feeling it when I’m spending my money, I’m feeling it when we’re looking at our balance sheet (I’ll explain this in the future) and I realize if I worked that “net worth” number would go up quicker.
The remainder of your money is deposited into your joint account. This account is where all your regular monthly bills come out of. We include mortgage, car payments, insurance, groceries, gas and daycare expenses. Anytime I need to spend out of that account and it NOT a regular expense, it gets discussed. For example, clothes for the kids, car maintenance, family gifts, etc.
Voila! 100% this saved our marriage. No longer did we argue over stupid things like going out for drinks with co-workers and blowing $100 on the bar tab. If I wanted to go spend $50 on makeup, I could, because it’s MY money. I can do whatever I want with it. He can do whatever he wants with his. End of story. Let me break it down for you below again:
INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNT: $____ Predetermined amount deposited into this account twice a month. Each person gets the exact same amount. I recommend that you don’t have access to each other’s accounts. Ours still have each other listed in case of emergency but he doesn’t carry a debit card for my account and vice versa. You can buy anything that’s not a household expense:
- Hobby Materials
- Entertainment (we include any time you eat outside of the house so you don’t do it so willy-nilly)
- Gifts (I like this way better because now he can’t see where I’m shopping for his birthday gift and how much I spent)
- Anything you want
JOINT ACCOUNT: $____ Balance of your paycheck after your 401k contribution. The only things that come out of this account are monthly expenses. We even use auto-pay for as much as possible (except our mortgage so we can decide if we want to over-pay each month). Any other expense out of this account must benefit the entire household and be discussed. Here are a few examples of regular expenses:
- Utility Bills
- Family Memberships (Zoo, Gym, Etc)
Additional Expenses that must be discussed but can most likely come out of the Joint Account:
- Kids Clothing
- Tuition for Lessons or Tutoring
- Family Vacation
- Babysitting for date nights
- House Maintenance (Lawncare, HVAC maintenance, etc.)
- Gifts from the family (Christmas, Birthdays, etc.)
SAVINGS: At the end of each month we look at how much is left in our Joint Account and move it into our savings account. Once it’s there, it can’t be spent unless it’s an emergency or it’s being invested. I’ll talk more about this later.
Can you do this? Would this help?