In my first marriage, money could have been a good warning.
My folks paid a dowry and never saw a penny of it. When I asked my ex about it, he was ‘offended’ I could insinuate something about his parents.
Two, I struggled to make ends meet and I frequently kept dishing out funds to soothe my in-laws sudden, urgent and unexpected requirements.
Three, had I access to my husband’s financial records, I could have known about his excessive behaviours and his ‘other’ expenses.
But more importantly, his inability to take up any financial responsibility for his wife and kids should have been a fair warning to how the marriage would turn into.
Now in marriage two, I don’t have a 9-5 job, but have successfully managed a certain level of financial independence. The person I am, my certain experiences have taught me that it is crucial to have ‘my’ money.
Asking for money is something that somehow makes me feel like the lesser partner — clearly an attitude which needs working on because it unnecessarily pressurises my husband to gauge if he needs to step in and pay for an unplanned situation.
Money is the big elephant in the room.
I have seen married friends struggle through not having money; one having it, the other having to ask for it; one spending from a joint account; and of course there is always one friend who is driving their partner nuts by spending all that they have.
So here’s my question for you today?
How are you guys doing financially?
Do both of you know how much the other is earning?
Is either of you aware of any liabilities one has taken?
Have you ever sat down and charted out a financial plan for your family?
Is the financial plan working?
Are you ensuring that you are equal partners and how?
There is no right method to your plan. And maybe you didn’t have to sit down to have that conversation. Maybe you guys unwittingly decided that the wife pays the loan on the home and the husband takes care of all the monthly expenses or some arrangement like that. Maybe you have a joint account for the monthly debits and personal accounts for individual stuff.
The only crucial point is that you both feel like equal partners in your arrangement.
My college friend is a very well to do editor abroad. When he got married, a successful arranged marriage, I saw sides of him that took me by surprise. He would make her feel horrible every time they shopped, even saying no, we don’t have the money for it, if she picked something she liked. He would then go and buy himself two really expensive shirts or shoes or anything he’d like. That doesn’t sound like an equal marriage, does it?
It gets trickier if it is your second marriage and you have a child each from your first marriages. How are you going to ensure that financially you are on the same page? How do you ensure that your partner will contribute or not question you on the standards you have so far been providing for your respective children. Did you have that conversation before you got committed?
Or let’s say, in my case, I came into my marriage with my child. How do we do this now? Is my son’s expenses mine, or ours? And then we have another child. Is my husband going to pay for those expenses, while I only pay for mine and my older son’s?
It sounds funny as I type, but these little things become big if you both come from different world views.
Every relationship has certain specific nuances —financially that is. A loan you took before marriage, the responsibility of your parents, your sibling’s education that you pay for, the startup that you want to go head on into, the dream home you want to purchase right now, the baby you think it’s time for…
unless you can have a clear open discussion with your partner about what your expectations are, if or not you support the nuances of your marriage, you will FAIL to have an equal partnership.
One of you will slowly begin to grudge the other, feel burdened by the marriage while your other half may not even be aware of that emotion. They simply know that they better hide or tiptoe around their partner’s feelings every time make an unplanned purchase.
I am not a financial planner…every one who knows me, knows I am the occasional splurger. I have to get the peppa pig earrings for my niece the moment I lay my eyes on it… Which is why I also love having the husband who keeps the boat afloat even when I am all set to push it under (just kidding).
But I do have a certain financial pointers from my two marriages:
1. It is good to know how you are doing financially as a couple. It simply keeps the checks and balances. Either of us know that we can push a certain buy for a little longer, if nothing else.
2. Make investment choices together. Be it the apartment, the business you have waited to start for years, whatever. I have always seen my parents take big decisions together. And when things don’t go as planned, you then also have somebody to take you through it. They don’t feel cheated, you don’t feel like you have let them down.
3. Be prepared: Zach was on the ventilator when he turned three months old. We were not prepared for that specific situation – emotionally and financially. But since we were financially alright in general, we sailed through. Now we know to insure ourselves in a specific way to ensure we don’t have to take a decision weighed down by finances.
4. The Me fund: I believe everyone must put some money aside for themselves — for the occasional splurge, for the business plan you have, and for when things get awry.
This does not in any way mean that you get into a marriage with cynicism or plan for it to end in a divorce. NO. Thats not what it means! It is just a continuation of Part 3. Be prepared.
My Mother-in-law lost her husband so suddenly, it pulled the earth from under her feet. Not only, did she lose the husband and the father to her children, she had to then pick herself up and provide for all of them. No easy task!
And above everything else, don’t slide things under the carpet.
Acknowledge the nuances of your marriage and work towards the best possible solution that makes you feel like equal partners.