Let’s talk about marriage. If we’ve established that marriage and money are closely related, then there’s no better time than now to talk about how marriage affects us… which then affects our personal finances.
My wife and I celebrated our one-year anniversary few weeks ago, so I’m excited about today’s lesson and share you and I learn from it.
Right now, we’re in the second section of Page 25 – Page 26, under the title ‘Marriage And Money’, in Chapter 2 of Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money.
And here’s my lesson for the day:
Marriage is hard.
What a simple, but powerful statement right there.
In fact, according to Dave; after more than twenty years of marriage to his wife, Sharon, and after counseling thousands and thousands of married couples, the one thing he’s learned is this:
That marriage is hard.
And although I haven’t been married 20 years, I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.
And I think it’s so important for you and your spouse to understand this because:
Many people struggle with various challenges in their marriage, and they do either one of two things:
1. Conclude that they themselves must be broken: That they must be doing something wrong, don’t have the right temperament, background, or experience, or they’re just not a fit for marriage; or
2. Decide that their partner must be the problem: Which means they need to start looking to separate, get a divorce and move on to a ‘more compatible’ partner
But here’s what I believe: Every successful marriage I know consists of two people with less than perfect backgrounds, life experiences or temperaments, who’ve decided that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side
but that the grass is greener where you water it.
Because here’s the deal: marriage is hard, and marriage is supposed to take a lot of time and hard work for you to make it work.
Now I don’t know your story / background / upbringing, or your marriage, but here’s what my instincts tells me:
1. If you think you’re the problem in your marriage, most likely, you’re not
You just need to accept the humbling fact that your marriage needs a lot of work from both you and your spouse…
… and that sustaining a joyful marriage definitely goes beyond that ‘lovey dovey‘ goosebumps-inducing romantic honeymoon feelings that both of you started out with; and
2. If you think your partner is the problem in your marriage, most likely they’re not
Again, you simply need to understand that your marriage won’t suddenly be perfect and shiny because that’s what you want. If you don’t put in the consistent effort to put your wants into action…
… you’ll only be seeing the ‘problems’ in your partner, and you won’t see the areas where you can step up, and build a joyful marriage with your spouse.
Now, you and your partner will have the good, pleasant, rosy times…
… you know those heart-warming, romantic, jaw-breaking laughs, but those disagreements and quarrels are the worst.
And for me, here’s the No. 1 reason why I think marriage is hard:
A joyful marriage is supposed to bring together two different people with two different parents, gender, backgrounds, siblings, families, beliefs, outlooks on life, stories, ambitions, goals, habits, pet peeves, likes, dislikes, and personalities…
… and merge those two people into one.
Once you start seeing your marriage with your partner from that lens, you’ll start to see why you both started from a honeymoon and forever-love phase, but can’t seem to live a week or a month these days without getting into (sometimes bitter) quarrels and disagreements.
- You’ll start to see why he seems quiet and disengaged, whereas you think he’s angry and not expressing himself enough
- You’ll start to see why she seems to be ‘talking too much’ and can’t seem to shut up for just a minute!
- You’ll start to see why he makes quick and fast decisions, whereas you want to sleep over your decisions or even take a week or two to weigh your options
- You’ll start to see why he seems to love his work more than you
- You’ll start to see why she seems to always be crying ‘for no clear reason’
- You’ll start to see why he wants to invest all your savings, whereas you want to build your full emergency funds
And on and on.
And obviously, I may be generalizing here as regards the male vs female dynamics, but you get the main point there:
Marriage is hard…
… because it takes a lot of time and hard work to get on the same page with your spouse…
… because it’s often challenging for two partners to emerge with one perspective that satisfies both partners, when they start out with two or more conflicting perspectives on an issue.
For example, I was born and raised in Nigeria, whereas my wife grew up here in the U.S.
Based on that fact alone, you can see why both of us would need to continually commit to making compromises and getting better at disagreeing and agreeing…
… because, for example, we tend to not have the same personal viewpoints of parenting styles, traditional Nigerian respect traditions, going on vacations, working for longer hours, checking in on people, just talking for the sake of talking… and a bunch of other aspects of life.
For example, if I have to make the choices, I would say:
- Except the consequences are potentially grave and huge, we should make decisions as fast as possible; that analysis-paralysis is bad; and it’s okay to ‘move fast and break things’
- Kids should have limited inputs in how their parents raise them; that the job of a kid is to obey, and not to ‘question’ her parents or to understand the reasoning behind every instruction that her parents give
- Going on vacations is overrated and I equate taking short breaks between working hours to going on an extended vacation for weeks in an unknown place
- If a conversation is not driven by a specific goal, for example, to solve a problem or address an issue, then maybe we shouldn’t have those conversations; in other words, we shouldn’t be talking, just for the sake of talking
That is – if I have my way.
As for Dave, he wants to make decisions fast and keep going forward without slowing down or taking. He decides on what he wants, and go for it quickly with all his energy…
… whereas his wife, Sharon, likes to think and mull over things at a slower pace than Dave would like; and she would seek to engage multiple perspectives and emotions before settling on a decision.
And if you think about the relationship dynamics between you and your wife, you may start to see similar patterns/
You may start to see why your arguments are not truly because y’all suddenly hate each other and are not compatible…
… but that your arguments come from the fact that: both of you came into the marriage with personal expectations, beliefs, needs, experiences, and perspectives…
… and it’ll take a lot of time and hard work to merge those two personal quirks into something you both can agree on as one entity that you now are.
Because here’s the deal:
No one is wrong – you’re not wrong and neither is your partner.
Neither of you have wrong perspectives, they’re just different perspectives.
You and your partner act the way you do, because we, humans, are the sum total of our backgrounds, environments, and experiences…
… and so your goal here’s not to point fingers or trade blames.
The goal here: is, first of all, to hear each person’s viewpoints, and then merge those viewpoints into one…
… in a way that makes both of you joyful.
Or what you’ll call the hear-and-merge approach.
As you can probably tell, that’s easier said than done.
Marriage is a life-long journey, and it’s okay for you and your spouse to struggle to reach a compromise, and have quarrels and disagreements…
… in as much as, you both keep putting in the time and hard work to hear and merge your viewpoints…
… no rush, no pressure, y’all have a lifetime to keep working on it.
So don’t give up, and even though it might seem like you’re the only couple in America always fighting and quarreling, know that:
- that’s just not true,
- you’re not alone, and more importantly:
Marriage is supposed to be hard.
And nothing worth having comes easy.
That’s all for today, my friend. We’ll continue in the second section of Page 26 of the book tomorrow.
See you then.