When I was young and thought about marriage, I pictured someone handsome to hug whenever I felt like it, someone to help me lift heavy things, traveling to exotic places with a fun companion and conversations that would make me laugh.
What I never pictured was someone I would argue with because we didn’t always see eye to eye. Or someone I would sit next to, paralyzed in fear at a hospital when the arrival of our first child happened well before we expected it to. Or going days without a hug because we hadn’t communicated and dealt with a looming issue that was forcing a wedge between us.
I had heard so many times relationships take work, they are 50/50. You have to take the good with the bad, and there will be bad, and part of loving someone is working to overcome all of the less than perfect times you share. I knew it was impossible to be on cloud 9 every minute of every day, yet somehow I never expected my marriage to require effort.
I believe that a marriage is not 50/50, but rather 100/100. You have to give your all, all the time, and treat your partner the way you want to be treated. I don’t want my husband to give me 50%, I want 100%! I want ALL he has to offer. I want to know he is IN, he is working as hard as I am to contribute, to enjoy, to grow and to love with everything he has.
While we do have our conflicts, I feel fortunate to not argue with my partner about finances. We have been clear from the beginning and on the same page with our financial goals. For many, money is the biggest point of contention within their relationship. Here are some of the habits we have created that guide our successful money relationship:
COMMUNICATE - we talk about what is coming in, what is going out, what expenses are coming up and what our financial goals are. We do this OFTEN!
DISCUSS PURCHASES - with the occasional exception of gifts for each other, we discuss the purchases we make or are planning to make. The cost is irrelevant - if there is something one of us is considering purchasing, we talk about it. It is an opportunity to share opinions, ideas and show respect.We talk about the groceries we need, the extras we want and everything in between.
BE HONEST - If my actions as a saver are swaying into the territory of miserly, my husband can (and does) approach me with honest thoughts about how to be more reasonable. If my husband gets a wild idea and wants to run out and buy a motorcycle, I can approach him with honest thoughts about we can work this into our goals. There is absolutely a certain level of vulnerability when two people are being honest about their financial hopes and dreams, but instead of hiding from it, explore it - together.
If you’re wondering, our biggest conflict is parenting - we have different ideas when it comes to how to raise our children, how to approach difficult topics and how to enforce rules or consequences. And it is tough. It can get us both defensive and arguing with no regard for each other whatsoever. And when that happens, we accomplish nothing.
Using the same strategies we do for money, we are most often able to find a solution which leaves us both feeling honoured and heard. We both have similar goals in that we both want to raise happy, respectful, ambitious humans and it is okay that we have differing ideas on how to achieve this. By working together and ensuring the presence of honesty and respect, we can accomplish far more for our family than trying to be “right” all the time.
I don’t want someone to just enjoy the beautiful parts of life with, I want someone who can help me through the ugly parts too. It’s all fun and games when things are going swimmingly and I love to revel in the magic of those times, but when those rough patches hit, that is when I need support. That is when I need a strong arm to hold me, and not walk away. That is when I need a calm voice to help me navigate and not yell, or worse, say nothing at all.
I am grateful I have a partner to share the struggles and joys of life with. It is my consistency, my safe place, my accountability and the whole of my heart.