Dear Frugal Gal Who is Married to a Spender Husband,
Oh, how I get you. Because, you see, I am you!
When my husband and I got married, I totally had no clue that people could truly find fulfillment in spending money. Yup, it was a recipe for complete success and harmony in our marriage. Ahem.
I knew he liked to buy brand names. I knew he liked nice things. But I figured that I could help him see how it was so much better to shop at thrift stores and get bargains.
So I went into marriage all prepared to fix my husband. Because, in my incredibly humble opinion (not!), that boy needed a lot of fixing.
I was going to help him understand how we could save so much money if he would just come over to my frugal side. I was going take those extravagant blinders off his eyes and help him see the frugal light.
It shouldn’t take much work, I was sure. Yes, you could say I was a wee bit naive.
Then we got married. And I set to work fixing him.
For the first few years, we were so poor that there wasn’t any money to spend on anything but necessities. So I really thought all my “sermons” and words of wisdom had cured his “extravagant” appetite.
A few years into our marriage, with law school behind us and a blog that was quickly growing, our income began steadily increasing and my fantasy ideas of how I had fixed my husband were all shattered by reality.
The reality was this: I had married a guy who liked to spend money.
I was aghast! I loved this man, but how on earth could he find fulfillment from spending money?!? My frugal self just couldn’t fathom it!
I had tried fixing and that didn’t work. So then I tried criticizing. And, as you can imagine, that was a complete flop.
I was stubborn and frustrated. However, I loved this man. I really did. And I didn’t want to live life feeling constant tension over money.
So, I humbled myself and started asking questions trying to determine what Jesse’s heart really was. And little bit by little bit, I realized that he wasn’t trying to be extravagant or ruthless; he just enjoyed spending money. It was the way he was wired.
Just like I was wired to enjoy saving money (and he had trouble understanding my frugal nature!), he was wired to enjoy spending money. There was nothing wrong with him. He just had a different personality than me.
I have slowly come to really appreciate him for how different he is than me. Without him in our family, I’d probably be a miser. He’s helped me realize that there is more to life than always doing everything possible to get everything at the rock bottom price.
He’s also helped me to realize that breathing room in our budget can allow us to enjoy some memory-making experiences — like taking the kids out for a special outing or enjoying a date night together at a fun restaurant. Without him in our family, we’d probably have a lot less fun at our house.
I’ve also learned that sometimes, it truly does pay to spend more for a nicer brand. Yes, really. Not always, but sometimes.
And, most importantly, he’s helped me learn the joy that comes from generosity. I love watching how much he loves to give and how he is always going out of his way to give to others. Seeing his heart for giving inspires me to live with arms even more outstretched.
The beautiful thing is, Jesse has also learned a lot about me and has come to appreciate my frugal nature — even if he doesn’t always understand it. He thanks me often for how I help our family save money and stick with a budget.
As my attitude changed, it’s made him a lot more open to making compromises for the health of our family’s finances. He’s learned to look for great deals on things he needs to purchase, he’s waited to buy items he wants until we could afford them in our budget, and he’s talked himself out of many purchases because he knew that it wasn’t a wise use of our money.
We still have moments when there is tension or disagreements when it comes to money, but I’ve learned 4 strategies that have helped bring a lot more harmony to me as a saver who is married to a spender:
1) Nagging Doesn’t Work
If you want to ruin your relationship, start trying to nag and drag your spouse along with your latest and greatest ideas. It’s a recipe for disaster — and discord.
2) It Has To Be an Us Thing, Not a Me Thing
There is no “I” in team. If you want to successfully get on the same page, it has to be a game plan you come up with together.
Don’t expect your spouse to jump on board with you. Instead, ask your spouse if you can sit down together and talk about where you both are financially and where you both want to go together.
3) Compromise Is Key
When you sit down to discuss your finances, come with an open mind. Don’t have everything all mapped out and badger your spouse into signing off on your plan.
Share your concerns in a gentle manner and then listen to your spouse’s thoughts and concerns. If they see that you genuinely want to work with them and want to hear their heart on the matter, they are going to be much more apt to join you in the journey. But they will likely resist from the get-go if you don’t seem to care about their desires and or have any willingness to compromise.
4) Give Grace — And Some Breathing Room!
Because of our different personalities and natures, we’ve found a beautiful compromise in an agreed-upon Blow Category in our budget. We each get an allotted amount of money that we can spend on whatever we’d like, whenever we’d like. This set-up has worked well for us and prevented many unnecessary arguments over money.
When we both accept our differences, agree to compromise, set goals for our family together, and give each other grace, we have so much more unity. And this unity propels us to both be working together to wisely steward our money — instead of constantly fighting and bickering over stuff that really isn’t going to matter too much in 25 years from now.
These four strategies won’t completely remove any money fights or misunderstandings, but I truly believe that they will help improve your communication and oneness in your marriage. And when there’s more communication and oneness in finances, it usually will have a trickle down effect and improve many other areas of marriage.
So hang in there! Start taking baby steps forward and hopefully your effort to better understand and get on the same page with your husband will result in some of the same rewarding results that it has for us in our marriage!
Don’t give up! I’m cheering for you…
P.S. For more suggestions, check out my post on How Can We Improve Communication About Finances In Marriage?