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.
12 thoughts on “How Does Financial Stability Impact a Marriage?”
I think you are absolutely right. When my husband and I got married he had about $13,000 in credit card debt but excellent credit. I was a single mom with no credit score at all, I had lived on cash only all the years of being a single mom. So right away we sat down and came up with a plan to pay off the debt so we can get on with our lives. It was not easy and there were times he really struggled with it, but eventually he got on the same page. If he hadn’t agreed with our plan, our marriage would not be as successful as it is. Also because of my being willing to be there for him and help with his old debt which was not incurred with me, he has been generous with my sons and paying for their college is as important to him as it was to me.
Thanks for sharing tina. It sounds like you and your husband are really on the same page about your finances. I bet a lot of couples struggle when one person comes into the relationship with debt.
I absolutely agree. When my husband and I were dating he was living in a tiny apartment and handing over SIGNIFICANT amounts of money to his sister to keep her business afloat until she could sell it (so she claimed). At this point he had no significant savings and he had been out of college and working for 7 years. Not even money in his retirement account. As soon as he got together with me, SURPRISE! he told his sister that he could no longer support her failing business and SURPRISE! she shut the place down immediately. He immediately started saving money for the downpayment on our first home and contributing to his retirement account. By the time we were married two years later he had bought a small townhouse. If he had continued that route of handing over his money to his IRRESPONSIBLE sister I cannot guarantee we would be together.
We have been on the same financial page since. We don’t struggle with paying our day to day bills but it would be incredibly hard on a marriage if we did. I’ve seen both of my best friends go thru it. It seriously makes you wonder why you married that person in the first place.
Oh family matters can really murky up the water can’t they. My husband and I are on the same page with financial matters, but we’ve had many discussions about giving money to other members of the family. I’m glad that you and your husband were able to work that out and are now happier for having put an end to the hand outs.
You might find my post on marriage interesting, via Tight Fisted Miser:
The Brick and I both grew up in families that had little money, and were frugal in part because they had to be. Even after things became more prosperous, getting great bargains became a game, something to brag about.
When we married, I’d just gotten out of grad school. I had nothing but my bills paid (thanks in part to Mom and Dad, and my working for room/board) and a job offer. The Brick had come out of 6 years in the Navy with some cool possessions and a new Ford Mustang, paid up. He also got $400 a month from the GI Bill, and worked part-time for the university, as well.
We should have been able to live easily on that $400, plus what I was bringing in. But we were idiots and took out more loans. We owed $10,000 by the time he graduated.
It took us roughly the next 10 years to pay that money off. We bought a house the 6th year, right in the worst part of Colorado’s recession — and got a great price. We made extra payments on the principal, and by the time we bought house #2, were able to take away a profit only $20,000 less than what we’d paid for House #1 in the first place. In order to do that, though, I had to take a second job for a summer to pay the extra mortgage…the Brick fell madly in love with House #2, and we bought it before we’d actually sold House #1. Which took longer than we’d planned.
Our income went down drastically when the Brick went out of engineering, and started driving a school bus, instead. He’s become a trainer now, and is making more, but his salary is still about a third of what he would have been making as an engineer. We only survived this by the grace of God, and the frugal skills we’d learned. If I hadn’t been very careful to set aside savings during the engineering days, we wouldn’t even have made that through without credit card debt.
So OFG, you have been blessed to have had such a high combined income backing you through the past years — but I can say from experience that money isn’t everything. Never was, never will be. It’s the person you marry — not the income — that makes you happy. OH yes, and your little guy, too!
Hi Cindy – You know I always love your comments! Never stop commenting!
I agree that money isn’t everything! Oh I couldn’t agree more! But I do think that having money puts you in a better place to deal with the other hurdles in life. It seems like you and your husband have ‘gotten through’ financial issues and lived to tell about it. I commend you for it!
I guess the bigger question is how would your marriage be if you never had those issues to contend with in the first place?
Money may not be everything, but it’s a significant part of the pie, whether you’re single or in a relationship.
I’m not married yet – we’re engaged – but have been together seven years. Money, or the lack of, and a job loss (while I was still studying full time and thus unable to support us both) nearly spelled the end for us a few years ago. Financial stress takes its toll on all aspects of you life, even if you’d like to think otherwise.
Ahhhh yes! Financial stress a perfect name for it. Great comment!
I couldn’t agree more! My husband and I are 100% on the same page about our money and the goals we have for ourselves financially. It certainly makes our marriage easier. By the end of May, we will have paid off $20k in car payments and student loans in 6 months, and our mortgage will be in our only source of debt. It’s amazing how much easier life is when you don’t have to worry about money.
Congratulations on paying down your debts! Isn’t it amazing how free you feel when that last check is mailed in?
Having money definitely helps but it’s not everything. Our arguments about money are farther and farther in between but we’re also almost out of debt (except for student loans). On top of that, we don’t feel “poor” anymore because we’re living in a bigger place.
It’s interesting that you’re arguments are becoming more infrequent already. I know you recently moved, so that’s a pretty quick turnaround.