You glare at your husband over the kitchen table, the family checkbook held hostage between you. “Dryer!” you snap. “Carburetor!” he retorts. “Pay down credit cards!” you demand. “Put away for savings!” he insists.
And it’s like this all the time. It’s not just that you can’t seem to agree on things, you’re locked in battle royal over them. Whether it’s going hiking versus golf, seeing movie X versus movie Y, should the kids be in soccer camp or play baseball, no matter what the issues are, you’re sniping at each other, each trying to get his or her way, never mind the fallout.
Your girlfriends commiserate: the “war of the sexes,” they say, is as old as time, and not going away in the foreseeable future. You have to go guerrilla on your guy, they say: get wilier, think more strategically, use whatever manipulative ploys you can. They’ll cheer as you win dryer, credit card paydown and soccer camp. Never mind if you lose your marriage in the process.
Because that’s exactly what’s likely to happen. Research shows that fully 70% of a husband’s satisfaction in the marriage comes from the deep and abiding friendship he has with his wife. And wives similarly, base 70% of their satisfaction from the quality of the friendship. Friends don’t make war on friends. Friends support each other’s endeavors. Friends seek to maximize each other’s happiness.
How do you go from “we’re enemies” to “we’re friends”? Seems an almost impossible task, yet it is doable. What it takes is a commitment to lay down your arms, and begin to look at your spouse as someone you can work with.
“With” is a wonderful word. It means “side by side,” “next to,” “accompanying.” You can take that literally, and start by sitting next to your spouse with the checkbook in front of you. Now it belongs to both of you, rather than being something one or the other has to grab.
Next, make a list of your financial priorities. Ask your spouse to do the same. Let’s say that “paydown credit cards” and “put aside for savings” are at the top of the list. What’s the goal both of those have in common? Assuring a more solid financial future. That’s something you can both agree on. You’re on the right track.
After that, instead of vying for credit cards versus savings, given the larger goal you and your mate seek, try to reason out what’s the best approach regarding your credit card debt and savings? If you can’t seem to figure it out for yourselves, rather than fight your marriage to death, get some advice from a professional, online or otherwise, or a friend/relative who’s done well with their money.
What’s important is to work your decision through together, focusing your efforts and attention to achieving your end goal – more solid financial future – not on to who wins this round.
When you stop treating your guy as an enemy, and approach him as you would a friend, preferably a best friend, your relationship thrives, and your happiness together can grow exponentially.