On our last trip to North Carolina my husband and I started talking about marriage. My husband asked why I think we’ve remained married when more than half of our friends have divorced in the past three to four years. In my opinion the two biggest factors for a successful marriage beyond strong communication are Money and Goals.
My salary more than quadrupled since I graduated from college. I started out living in a group house with five other people and ended up with three properties and two homes just twelve years later. Despite the significant rise in income over the years I never fell victim to lifestyle inflation. My husband and I never took extravagant vacations, bought expensive cars or went out to eat very often.
For the most part we’ve focused on saving and making our house a home. In fact, over the years we’ve become even greater homebodies. We took cooking classes and began to enjoy making meals together. We traveled less frequently to new places and more often to our rental home in North Carolina. We bought used cars along the way and kept the prices below $8,000.
This isn’t to say we are miserly. While some may read this post and thing it sounds terribly boring I want to point out that we do not feel that we are in any way denying ourselves. We began to enjoy one another’s company more and found that projects around the house made us quite happy. We also continued to contribute significant amounts of money to charity.
Between a lot of blessings and hard work we have been financially stable for quite some time. Having money ensures we have one less thing to worry about, one less concern.
It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If the basic needs of my life are settled and secure then we can move on to focusing on other things. Since my husband and I have been able to pay our bills without worry we can move on to concentrating on other aspects of our lives.
If my husband and I were struggling to make ends meet I think we would fight more often. We would worry about how to pay the mortgage. We might be more tired from working longer hours to earn more money to cover our bills. All of this would probably leave us anxious and more apt to fight with one another.
If there isn’t much money in the bank it’s easy to get into arguments about how the money is spent and who is spending it. If you don’t struggle for money than you aren’t too concerned if your wife buys new shoes or your husband buys new video games. (As long as they do so within reason.)
I should point out that it’s not just having money that makes us happier. It is also setting goals for that money and agreeing to those goals. If my husband wanted to travel the world and I wanted to stay home then we wouldn’t continue to have a successful marriage.
I believe we have a successful marriage because we both know exactly how much we own and owe and also have the same aspirations for our lives and plans for our money.
The truth is if you took away our money I think our lives would be much more stressful and that stress would certainly have an impact on our marriage.
Does it mean that we wouldn’t remain married if we didn’t have money. I sure hope not. But I do think it would be more difficult to maintain our current level of happiness. While I don’t believe you need lots of money to make you happy I do believe there is a certain level that makes you feel more secure and content. Once the basics are provided for there is much less to worry about. Add to that common goals and desires and I think you’ll have the keys to a longer lasting marriage.
Of course, I can only speak for myself. But I’d love to hear what others think. If you agree or disagree with this post please leave a comment.