Before getting married, my husband and I made time to discuss our financial situation. We agreed that I’d support our family financially so he could focus his full attention on school. I love my job and building a career for myself, so I never thought being the sole provider would be difficult for me. Honestly, I thought it would be empowering.
Within the first year of living on a single income, though, I slowly started to feel resentment and discontent. The financial tension was real, and I knew we had to address the problem now before it was too late.
Talk About What’s Bugging You
You must be open with your spouse — no matter how uncomfortable the conversation might be. If your partner doesn’t know you’re upset, how do they know there’s an issue that needs to be resolved?
I’d lived on my own and supported myself for years before I got married. But paying for one person is very different than paying for two people, and I hadn’t really thought about the increase in expenses. When utilities, groceries, tuition and entertainment costs started adding up, I felt overwhelmed and annoyed. I didn’t want to spend my money on his tuition.
For most couples, we don’t wake up in a beautiful home with matching furniture and perfect decor.
After a few months of growing resentment, I finally told my husband how I was feeling. First, I realized that I had to shift my perspective. It’s not just my money anymore, it’s our money. Second, my husband validated my feelings and that felt nice. While I still pay for most expenses, just having that conversation helped change my perspective and attitude significantly.
Include ‘Fun Money’ in Your Budget
Sometimes being an adult is less glamorous than romantic comedies might lead you to believe. For most couples, we don’t wake up in a beautiful home with matching furniture and perfect decor. It’s hard to justify spending money on artwork when utilities need to be paid and you need groceries. I noticed that more of my “fun money” budget was now going toward our household’s increased bills.
While staying out of debt is a top priority, I still occasionally spend money on myself. Whether it’s a simple dinner for myself or a pedicure, sometimes a small splurge actually helps us feel in control of our money.
Realize You Have Choices
Remembering you have choices is incredibly empowering. It helps to overcome stress at times and reduce some of the pressure of being the breadwinner. I had to remember that we chose to live on one income at this point in life. I chose to be the sole provider.
If need be, my husband could get a part-time job or even take a semester off while we saved up more money. We had other options.
Define Your Long-Term Goals
It’s helpful to write out your long-term goals and talk them over with your partner. Will you both work? Will you have children? If so, will one parent stay at home while the other is the primary breadwinner?
After my husband is finished with medical school, it’s likely that he’ll then become the primary financial provider for our family. Keeping our future goals in mind helps keep me committed to our money strategy today.
If you and your partner have conflicting ideas about finances and career goals, it’s a good idea to start addressing those early in life and marriage. Plan together, have open discussions and be honest with each other. You might be surprised at how far that can go, both in your relationship – and your wallet.
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