Money and Marriage Problems – Update

About a year ago, I wrote a post about money and marriage problems that I’d like to update since my own financial circumstances have changed a little bit since then with an ever increasing list of work from home jobs part time:

An article at Yahoo Finance brought up different money problems that arise in marriages.  Here is what I wrote a year ago followed by my views now.

1. Paycheck Envy – I don’t know about you all, but my husband would dance a jig if I made more than him. If you and your spouse truly see your money as joint money, than who makes more wouldn’t matter, right? Feel free to explain something I’m missing…

For the last 3-4 months, I really have made more than my husband thanks to the combo of my day job and making money online blogging.  I can honestly say now that Mr. BFS doesn’t mind in the least.  He hasn’t danced an actual jig yet, but he has done little happy dances when I give him money updates, lol.

2. Debt – I can understand fighting if one person keeps accruing debt while the other keeps trying to pay it off. In that case, I’d have to leave…I can’t stand lies and fighting joint progress feels like a lie of some sort.

I can also understand a general feeling of helplessness that leads to lashing out at each other. Both of these scenarios sound like a living nightmare to me. If hubby and I had high interest debt, I’d probably get a little pissy in general, but we’d sit down and make a payoff plan. Taking action sounds way better than fighting about it.

Wow, I was in a good mood when I wrote that.  I’d be absolutely ticked if my husband was building up high-interest debt behind my back.  I wouldn’t kill him, but yes, I would probably leave.  If we built up that debt together, our bodies were switched out with aliens and we’d fight about it for sure. He better start doing some more stay at home dad jobs and paying this off quick.

3. Bills – The article says that fights occur because one person usually pays the bills and is unhappily surprised by the other one’s spending. I can tell you from a recent personal experience, this does happen once in a while for us. I’m the bill payer since hubby had no interest in the details, but that means that the weeks he splurges on fast food annoy the crud out of me. I am slowly learning to ease up on the control freak behavior…hubby is a patient man.

I have successfully backed off thanks to our fun money accounts.  Anytime we decide to splurge, the extra comes out of the appropriate fun money account.  We haven’t fought/argued/nagged each other over a bill for more than a year, woot!

4. Saving – A thrifty person married to a spendthrift is going to lead to problems. Even though hubby spends more than me, I can easily say he is no spendthrift. Thankfully. I just don’t see how it would work out very well. Does anybody have any personal experiences with this? Did any of those end well?

I still think it would be hard to make a marriage work with two people with obviously different priorities.  No change here.

5. Investing – Okay, I can totally see this as being a little problem. I don’t personally care much about the specific stocks we are invested in, but I much rather invest in target date mutual funds than individual stocks anyway. Hubby would rather invest more in high dividend equities using make money apps like Acorns. We have reached a compromise that works for us – my 401(k) and our Roth IRA are in target date funds and we have a Scottrade account for specific equity investments that my husband is in charge of. So far, this is working out really well. Have you ever had these types of issues? How did you work it out?

We’ve continued this compromise and even opened a 2nd Roth IRA that is invested in individual high-divend stocks by Mr. BFS.  This is actually working very well for us – simple target date mutual funds for me and individual stocks for him.  Yay for compromises that actually work!

6. Differing Expectations – This isn’t just a fiscal problem…if each spouse has different expectations, there will be fighting. Hubby and I met when we were 18. There is nothing more eye-opening than developing into an adult while being engaged for 4 years. We have learned over the years to voice our opinions and expectations instead of assuming the other one will just know. See, you’d think that would be obvious, but selfish kids do not understand that everybody doesn’t think the same way they do, lol. Ah, the importance of communication.

I stick to my original answer.  Communication has been absolute gold for my marriage.

7. Secret Stash – This screams “issues” to me. I would understand squirreling away money for a surprise gift or something like that, but just having “backup” cash seems hinky. Again, if there’s something I’m missing here, please give me a heads up.

After finding another article about hiding spending, I have definitely decided that it’s disgusting.  Hiding something for non-sweet reasons is a form of lying.  It’s a betrayal of trust that would infuriate me.

What do you think? Any suggestions or comments about the above?

16 thoughts on “Money and Marriage Problems – Update”

  1. Everyday Tips

    When the jig happens, could you post a video?

    I totally agree with your sentiments here. If I found out my husband was secretly spending and making bad financial decisions, I would lose it. I would also wonder what else he was hiding. If you don’t have trust in a marriage, then you don’t have much.

  2. No Debt MBA

    I’d love to see a jig video too 😉

    I think my SO would be thrilled if I pulled in the money from blogging you do as long as we still got to spend time together. I don’t know how you do it!

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – lying is lying and financial infidelity can be particularly poisonous since it can ruin your future, plans and present if it’s bad enough.

  3. Jeff @ Sustainable life blog

    It looks like you’ve continually updated your positions – that’s important in life. There’s no need to be rigid, and definitely not if you’re doing the wrong thing!

  4. Funny about Money

    Nice post! It sounds like you have a good marriage. 🙂

    What happens when the person who insists on paying all the bills is also the person who’s blithely running up debt?

    Money was only one reason I left my marriage (stone-dead boredom was the other). When I discovered we were three-quarters of a million dollars in debt, some $15,000 of it on credit cards, and that the bank was about to call the loan on the money he’d borrowed with a group of crooked law partners who had weaseled out, leaving him holding the bag, I exited pursued by a bear.

    Fortunately, I had managed to keep some cash sole and separate, and thank God one of the slimy partners had a wife who was wise to what was going on, and she insisted that wives’ sole and separate property would be held harmless from the debt.

    His mother and I managed to keep him out of bankruptcy (well deserved, but my son was in a private school, ready to go to college, and I sure couldn’t keep him there on what a freelance writer earned) by borrowing on margin against every cent we owned and forking it over to his creditors. He paid us back — or at least he paid me back…dunno whether his mother ever got repaid. I charged him more interest than I was paying, so I even made a few bucks on the deal.

    If I had a young daughter today, I’d advise her to live with her swain for at least three years before getting entangled in a marriage; to observe the way he deals with money; and to RUN if he refuses to talk with her about money or to let her share in the community finances or if he runs up debt behind her back or if he doesn’t think the same way she does about money. My mother once remarked that the main cause of divorce is money…I wouldn’t be surprised about that!

  5. Little House

    I have to say that I second all your answers. Thankfully, my husband and I went into debt together years ago, then made a plan together to get out of it. We are on the same page with pretty much everything. Now we’re working together on building wealth. We’ve always communicated well without any secrets and I have to say that’s been the key to over 10 years of marriage. 😉

  6. Crystal @ BFS

    @Everyday Tips, yep, trust is everything.

    @No Debt MBA, if he dances a jig, I will catch it on tape for all of you, lol. And yes, constant lying is the end to a relationship in my opinion.

    @Jeff, I try to accept the fact that all people change, even me. The things I was so sure about yesterday, last year, or in college aren’t always what I am sure about now. 🙂

    @Funny about Money, we have our bumps and disagreements, but yes, I think I am very lucky to be in a good marriage.

    Wow. You are a strong woman! I would have crumbled for at least a little while if I was blind-sided like that! What a complete ASS. I am so glad you are in a much better situation now and I am really glad he paid you back!

  7. Crystal @ BFS

    @Little House, congrats on 10 years and on knowing how to communicate! That was a hard-won lesson for us since we were so young. I seemed to think people could read my mind and my husband thought that any argument meant he should shut down and not talk. Thankfully we didn’t stay 20 forever!!!

  8. frugalforties

    With regards to #1 – I think what you’re missing in that one is not so much envy as a man feeling like he’s failed. Maybe it’s not there so much in current generations, but the generation I grew up in (man I’m old), there are a lot of men who feel as though they’ve failed if they are unable to “bring home the bacon”.

    My XH and I struggled with that a lot as he was raised in a very traditional family structure. I have a college degree and he doesn’t. I work in a technical field and he doesn’t. I bring home 2x as much as he does. For a very long time he internalized that and took it as a personal failing as a man … that he couldn’t provide a home and support his wife the way a “real man” was supposed to do. We never had kids (something we both wanted desperately) because we were always on the verge of financial collapse and felt it would be stupid to bring children into that kind of situation. His feelings aobut it and the way they affected our marriage eventually led to the collapse of the marriage (among other issues, of course, but the depression and the cycle were a large part of it).

    More recently, my long term boyfriend and I broke up because, again, as a man raised in a very traditional Southern family, he struggled with being unable to support me or “provide for me” in the way that he felt he should. I make a good decent living and am well able to support myself and contribute to a family income. But he is a business owner who is struggling, dealing with his children (college and college prep costs), and many other financial things … and he feels guilty that he can’t offer me the life that he – as a man – feels he should be able to.

    I know that some people feel this is sexist or unreasonable and maybe to some degree it is. It’s also very much a generational and regional thing. There are some men who feel less of a man if they are unable to support their families. Neither my XH or my XB were threatened by my paycheck or envious of it … but they felt like they should be able to contribute equally if not more and in not being able to, they felt like they had failed me.

    It’s a tough place to be in and it’s often hard for younger couples to understand. But it’s a very valid place for them to be in, based on their age and upbringing.

  9. Crystal @ BFS

    @frugalforties, I understand anybody feeling like a failure if they were unemployed or struggling (“feeling” being the operative word – I do not think that a job situation makes a person a failure in any way), but feeling like a failure because you make less than your spouse seems immature. I know that other generations were raised differently and surrounded by a completely different culture, but I still think a person has the ability to analyze their feelings and decide whether they are being logical or not.

    Your exs’ mistake wasn’t feeling like they were letting you down, it was that they refused to accept that they weren’t even when you probably said so. Feeling something but refusing to change when logic and the person in question say otherwise is self-pity. In my opinion, they lost a great woman in their lives because of self-pity and the fact that they personally connected their own pride to earning power and refused to re-evaluate a long held belief.

    And yes, I know my generation was raised to think differently and more equal when it comes to relationships, but we were also raised in general to be spoiled rotten brats. I do not think I am a slave to that culture. I have to work hard to fight a stupid sense of entitlement. When you are raised to think you are the most important person in the world, it takes personal work to develop a sense of empathy and sympathy for others. I have had to change my mindset to be a part of a suppotive relationship as opposed to the one who thinks it’s all about me. I know that every generation could work on their own failings too if they tried.

  10. Buck Inspire

    Interesting post. College sweethearts? You and Mr. BFS sound pretty solid and seem to balance and compromise very well. Great example for all married couples, keep it up!

  11. Squirrelers

    Crystal – great post, and I think that you and I seem to share a lot of the same views here.

    Good discourse as well between both you and Frugal Forties. I think that interchange is a counter perspective in a way to my most recent post discussing how a woman discussed wanting to be “taken care of” by a guy who could be a provider for her. It’s interesting how as we dig deeper and get to know people, they’re so influenced by how they were brough up as well as where (geography) and when(what decade/generation).

  12. Newlywed Bliss

    You made some great points! I used to make more than the hubbz but since the layoff, he’s the obvious bread winner. I’m hoping to get back to where I was but by blogging and running an online empire.

  13. Lisa

    We actually have a meeting at the end of every month to go over our finances. In the beginning of our relationship, he was the saver and I was a spender. Now we are both savers. I think I changed for several reasons, one I wanted to. Two, realized I never was really taught anything about money, so I just spent it. Three, I got tired of not having money and the thought of not having money, well….let’s not go there. So, now we are both on the same page and sometimes I still have to say, no I don’t need that.

  14. Crystal @ BFS

    @Buck Inspire, yep, we met the first semester of college and were engaged for the last 7, lol. Thanks for the support!

    @Squirrelers, I love it when great conversations happen in the comment section, so woot for frugalforties!

    @Newlywed Bliss, *raises the banana I’m eating* Here is to blogging empires!

    @Lisa, I am so glad you two are on the same page now! I bet it has made things a lot happier on the home front, right? After Mr. BFS and I sat down and made a budget together, he stopped complaining about restrictions and I stopped nagging (well, as much…I’ll admit, I still nag sometimes and he still whines sometimes…). 🙂

  15. frugalforties

    Crystal – I get your points but I still think you’re not understanding how totally internalized the feeling is in men of a certain generation or geographic upbringing. Both of my ex’s are nearly 50 and for them the immaturity is in NOT being able to be the sole support of your wife. If you aren’t capable of supporting your family, then you’re not a functioning adult male. Sure they each understand intellectually that’s a false premise, but emotionally, this is a fundamental part of how they were raised. It’s most certainly not self-pity.

    It’s just something that I think a younger generation will never truly grasp.

    But thanks for the compliment! 🙂 They did lose a great woman. Their loss … but it’s still hard.

  16. Jackie

    Great post. I certainly agree that open communication and planning is essential to a marriage. I personally think many arguements over money occur because both partners are not on the same page or disagree about how to go about the budget.

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