Finances in Marriage: The Money Dream Date
Finances in Marriage
Do you remember the thrill of the first few dates with your spouse? That feeling of elation, the heart-opening so wide you could feel it in your chest… their light so bright in your eyes that you had to blink. Love is a thing of wonder. What was it about those dates that made them so thrilling?
Most people don’t like first dates. I happened to like them… back in the day.
Most first dates start out with introductions to each other, background and such. Then, the good ones would get to the future planning part- what’s your ideal future in 5 years? 10 years? I appreciated these questions because it gave me time to pause and think about my ideal future- something I didn’t do while lost in the humdrum of everyday life.
A date would go well if our dreams aligned for the time being. If I could see myself in his dream or him in mine, then there would be more dates.
The Value of Dreaming Together
Last week, I talked about the power of dreaming together.
So often, we dream together with our spouse in the beginning but forget to do so as time moves on. But, time does move. As we learn and grow, our dreams shift and take new forms and directions.
I find that Josh and I are most out of sync when we are not in tune with each other’s dreams. We get back in sync by dreaming together. When we dream together, we can work out how we can align our paths to make our dreams a reality.
Marriage and Money Gone Wrong
Here is how things go wrong:
Mr. and Mrs. Smith start off going in the same direction with their dreams. Everything is great.
But, over time their dreams take vastly different paths.
Suddenly, they find themselves staring blankly at the vast chasm between themselves and their spouse.
What happened? How did her spending get so out of control? What is he doing with all the money?
They both started out with the same vision- a house, 2 babies, and a stable future. But, over time, he discovered the importance of retirement planning and FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) became his dream.
She, on the other hand, made new friends who valued things such as Fendi bags and new Ferrari’s. Her dream became being able to comfortably afford such luxuries while living their lives now.
This couple’s goals are not aligned. So, their daily actions with money are out of harmony.
Over time, resentment builds. She can’t see why he doesn’t want to give her everything she wants. That’s what he promised when he married her.
He can’t see why she doesn’t see the value of saving money. Doesn’t she know they need to retire one day? One thing leads to another and one fight bleeds into the next.
How can they get back on track?
The Money Dream Date
The fix starts with a Money Dream Date. They need to understand their spouse’s dreams. Once they do that, they could reach a compromise and realign where they are headed together.
What’s a money dream date? Here’s how to do it:
1. Set the scene
Find a comfortable and private spot to sit down with your partner. It doesn’t have to be a fancy restaurant. A comfortable couch and a glass of wine will do. You can make it a formal dream date or start the conversation more casually.
Get in touch with your dreams, as well as your partner’s. In what direction are you headed? Where does he want to go?
Sometimes it is hard to get started talking about these things, so I’ve put together a simple worksheet for you.
Download it for free here.
If you are already a member of the TFP family and are a subscriber, look out for a copy of this worksheet in your inbox the week this post goes live.
Print the worksheet out twice, one for you and one for your spouse. Then, ask your spouse to fill out his while you do yours.
3. Share your dreams
Talk about your dreams with your partner and listen to theirs. Now, figure out if there is some combination of your ideal future that would suit both of you.
For example, Mr. Smith above writes that his wildest dream would be a life full of family, autonomy, and freedom. He envisions a high savings rate and an early retirement within the next 10 years. To make this happen, they would need to save $3 million over the next decade.
Mrs. Smith’s dream also lists family as one of her main priorities, along with friends, and financial security. She doesn’t know the state of their finances, but in the next 10 years, she would like to have a nice house for her kids and doesn’t want to have to feel guilty about spending money.
They start to see that their dreams are clashing and something needs to be done to align them. Maybe they can shoot for a Financial Independence time frame of more like 15 years. Maybe, they can cut back spending on the non-essential things.
4. Make your dreams a reality
You can make it happen. There is a way.
Talk about how you will make it happen. Try to come up with real dates to hope to reach your dreams. Write it down.
So, during this conversation, Mr. Smith shares some of their financial history with his wife. He explains the appeal of the FIRE movement to him. It sounds pretty good to Mrs. Smith.
But, she can’t live a spartan life. She has a circle she needs to keep up with. But, now she understands why her husband is feeling so stressed. They make a plan to be debt free in 10 years. She can moderate her spending, but to cut down on the guilt factor, maybe she can have a “Fun Fund” that gets no judgement from her husband.
He agrees to stop stressing out so much about all spending and invest in experiences a little more.
She agrees to save for tomorrow a little more and he agrees to live in today a little more.
They both win.
5. Make it a habit
Rinse and repeat every at least once every six months to keep in touch with each other’s dreams over time.
Now, Mr. and Mrs. Smith meet every few months to re-envision their dreams.
They start making progress financially, both less stressed and feeling happier with themselves… and each other.
While this is is an idealized version of how I see this going, I truly hope this exercise helps you get closer to your ideal future and your spouse! I know this method worked for me.
Until next week.
Standard Disclaimer: Remember I'm not a financial planner, just a human trying to share her experience. Not meant as individualized financial or medical advice.