Monday, July 13, 2015

It Takes Two To Tango

I still see flashes - unsavory memories of two grown adults screaming at one another, arguing over unpaid bills and responsibilities. The sound of the door slamming into its frame is still very much audible - it was the sound of frustration and defeat.

I still remember seeing red notices pinned up on the board. It was riddled with legalese threatening to terminate our supply of electricity should we fail to pay up.

My parents were momentarily defeated by circumstances and the lack of a financial structure only compounded the problem. It was not a pretty sight.

"If this is what marriage looks like (two adults bickering over money while struggling to raise two kids), I'd have nothing to do with it", I thought to myself then.

Well, here I am, writing this with a ring on my finger.

I knew that for this to work, I had to set the fundamentals right from the very beginning - transparency, communication and trust. I knew that if I wanted a better marriage, I had to do what my parents did not.

It means that at some level, the wife and I have to be on the same page.

For a start, she's not a fan of the rat cage and its vicious cycle. Better still, she's a natural minimalist. So like most married couples, we had 'the talk' about finances, bills and responsibilities to which we decided that combining our accounts would be the best move for us.

Of course, the decision to consolidate our accounts did receive some flak from others and most of them revolved around this concern, "What if shit hits the fan and things don't work out?"

Fair question. Sensitive topic.

Here are my thoughts:

1. The bedrock of a relationship is the big 'T' word. Yes, trust. Isn't that what makes or breaks a relationship? Too much and too little of it leads you down the same path - a rocky relationship. Like it or not, money is one of our most basic requirements for survival. 
If you can't trust your partner with that, perhaps there are underlying issues to be ironed out before tying the knot.  

2. Separate accounts promote separation. What's mine is mine and what's yours is yours. It is common for most couples to adopt separate accounts and split the household bills accordingly.  
However, to me, that's what housemates do. I loathe the idea of splitting expenses down to the dollar after every meal, or after watching a movie. It just doesn't make sense as a married couple. 
I prefer the idea of, "Let's build this well together and we'll draw from it when needed."  

3. A common vision and maximum impact. I must say that the idea to combine accounts is not something that everyone can swallow. It takes two people with the same beliefs, vision and trust to make it work. But being accountable and entrusting each other with this one important asset (money) fosters a relationship.  
It's like saying, "We're in this together" 

4. Shit may hit the fan one day. For some unexpected reason, external or internal, things may go wrong. One of us may end up doing something silly, financially or non-financially. We all make mistakes, don't we? 
If that happens, I'll want to look back and know that we've built our relationship from strength to strength...on solid fundamentals. Perhaps then, it will be easier to mend our mistakes and move on. 
It beats looking back and realizing that our relationship was built on distrust, resentment and a lack of direction. 

At the end of the day, if you choose to dance with a partner, it takes more than coordinated steps to tango.

It selfishly demands the ability of one to let fall, with eyes closed - knowing that the other will be there to catch you.

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  1. I could not agree with you more my friend.

    Before my wife and I officially tied the not we had plenty of work to get on the same page financially. Finances is one of the biggest causes of divorce, and we were not going to destroy our marriage before it ever started.

    Combining our accounts as a team was critical to fully combining our lives for a lifetime of marriage. To me you are either all in or your not ready for marriage.

    There is no in between.

    Trust is absolutely critical.


    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one with the same thinking. There seems to be more people leaning on the side of 'separate accounts' and citing the fact that 'shit may hit the fan' one day.

  2. It's funny to me. My wife and I were together for 9 years before we got married. High school sweethearts and all that. So when we were young, we literally had nothing to our name. Maybe a couple of grand. Then we graduated college (she was debt free, I had ~27k) and I just paid the minimum. Once we got married, she had a car that I used for work and then YNAB hit us in the head like a ton of bricks. It works so well for us. I don't know if we actually have each others' names on some of the accounts (and we're getting power of attorney next year), but we share all login and put all of our money into one pool. Then we budget it according to our family's needs. We each have our own little fun money and can spend our clothing money how we want too. And that's it. Otherwise, it's all decisions made together. I always worry about the people who say "what if shit hits the fan." That means they really think there's a chance of it. I don't. That's just ridiculous.

    You gotta fight for your right to party and have a good marriage. Or something like that.

    1. Wow, you've been with your wife for quite some time there DF. Always encouraging to hear from someone with a great relationship - I think it's that way due to mutual trust and strong fundamentals.

      'You gotta fight for your right to party and have a good marriage" - EXCELLENT haha