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Financial discussions can be difficult to have with your partner. Everyone has different philosophies about managing money. However, when couples get married, having healthy discussions about money can directly affect your relationship.

These tips can help guide you through difficult conversations about money.

Have an Open Mind

When discussing your finances, it’s important to keep an open mind. Everyone comes from varying financial backgrounds and may have had different experiences with money. These experiences contribute to a person’s financial outlook, and it can cause conflict when you and your partner don’t see eye to eye.

However, if you maintain an open mind during financial conversations, you may be able to work through disagreements quickly and with more effective solutions.

A great way to avoid confrontation is to spend time focusing on your partner’s strengths.

If the entire conversation is focused on their weaknesses, your partner may get defensive which could lead to arguments. Make sure you acknowledge the financial strengths of your partner so they feel supported throughout your discussion.

Create Realistic Goals

As with any important conversation with your partner, you should agree on a common goal.

Are you talking about setting up a budget, or do you want to save money to start a family? Whatever your goals are, be upfront and honest about them and try to keep the conversation on track.

Remember, when you’re setting up goals with your partner they need to be actionable and specific.

Realistic goals need to include dates and checkpoints, which makes it easier for individuals to hold themselves accountable.

Listen More, Talk Less

These conversations can get long and difficult, especially either or both of you do all the talking and no listening. Be in tune with what your partner is expressing, simply stating that you understand their point of view. This can go a long way.

Utilizing active listening techniques throughout your discussion will help de-escalate any disagreements you and your partner have. If you feel like you and your partner are struggling with healthy communication, you may want to consult your priest, a marriage counselor, and/or a mentor to help guide you.

Discuss All of Your Finances

This is the best opportunity to be transparent about any financial goals you’re working towards or concerns that you may have. This could include debt, credit score, loans, homeownership, or any other financial matters.

Being transparent about your financial status is the best way to establish an open line of communication about finances going forward. Thoroughly understanding your financial status can help you make educated decisions that impact your lives as a couple, such as moving in together for the first time, applying for a mortgage, or opening a joint bank account.

These larger financial decisions will be greatly impacted by your current financial status and should be discussed openly.

Additionally, you should also explain what you’re prioritizing financially.

That way, you both understand which goals you want to achieve first, and how they can best support your family. Make time in the conversation so both of you can clearly articulate the value of achieving goals. In doing that, you will both feel understood and supported.

It’s Hard, But Not Impossible

Discussing finances with your partner can be scary, especially if you’ve never openly discussed these topics before. However, by keeping an open mind, setting goals, and actively listening you’ll be well on your way to a stronger relationship and even better future conversations about money.

Read Time: 4 minutes

Having friendships with individuals and other couples is healthy for married couples.

We should all have a variety of people to engage with socially and consult for advice. Your best friend doesn’t have to be your partner’s best friend, but if your spouse can’t stand your BFF or vice versa, it’s going to create some tension.

So, how do you know if one of your friendships is negatively affecting your marriage?

1. Your Spouse Thinks Your Friend is Toxic

If your spouse has seriously negative feelings about one of your friends, you cannot ignore it. If the person who you’ve committed to as a lifelong intimate partner expresses this level of concern, failing to take their advice will damage your relationship.

Allow your partner to explain why they dislike your friend, and discuss options for handling the relationship.

As someone on the outside looking in, and someone with your best interest in mind, your spouse may be able to identify unhealthy behaviors that you’ve just accepted as part of the friendship. If you have a friend who frequently manipulates you, takes advantage of your kindness, or uses you as a dumping ground for their negative emotions, that likely won’t play well with your spouse.

Avoiding the conversation with your spouse or defending your friend’s bad behavior will lead to conflict in your marriage.

Especially if it becomes clear to your spouse that you are more loyal to your friend than you are to them. If you find yourself squabbling with your partner about a friendship, you’ll need to come to an agreement about how this friendship fits into your life. You will likely need to set boundaries with your friend, and let them know that you can no longer tolerate their destructive behavior.

If they can’t respect that, you may have to walk away.

2. Your Friend Doesn’t Approve of Your Marriage or Your Marital Culture

Adjusting to life as a married couple takes time. Even couples who’ve dated for years find life after the wedding is different than they imagined.

However, eventually, couples slip into routines and behaviors that uniquely mark their lives together and collectively make up their marital culture.

This culture is like any other with its own rituals, style of communication, foods, and distribution of roles among other things. Couples usually gravitate toward others who have similar cultures, describing the experience as “clicking” or “connecting”.

Having a friend who doesn’t approve of your marriage is kind of a deal breaker.

If your friend can’t support you in this major area of your life, their disapproval will become a source of constant conflict. If the issue is with your marital culture, there may be some room for compromise and acceptance. Communicate openly and determine what the issue is. If it’s something simple like public displays of affection that bother your friend, you may be able to take a break when they are around. More deeply held convictions that make up who you are as a couple may require some grace and understanding from your friend rather than an overhaul of your beliefs.

3. A Friend is Demanding a Level of Relationship Reserved for Your Spouse

A close friendship is a blessing and can be a safe place to process your feelings and talk about important things. However, friendship dynamics may change after marriage, and it’s natural to begin going to your spouse to talk about many of the things you used to communicate with your friends. You may even decide to share most things with your partner first and just recap with your friends.

Healthy friendships can handle this shift, even if it takes a period of adjustment. The line begins to grow blurry however, when a friend becomes jealous, resentful, or competitive of your spouse.

Good friends will be understanding of the changing dynamic of your relationship, even if they grieve the loss of your exclusive attention. Toxic friends will punish you for not meeting their relational demands, and they will try to make you feel guilty for being devoted to your spouse.

Removing Toxic Friendships from Your Life

If you’ve given your friends the benefit of goodwill, and talked through the changes brought on by your marriage, you should be able to step into a new and healthy era of friendship. Your connection with your spouse may even help your friendships become healthier as they offer perspective and help you communicate better with your friends.

But if you’ve clearly identified that your friendship is unhealthy and there are no signs it will improve, it may be time to move on.

Letting go of a friend is never easy, even if walking away from their destructive habits frees you from emotional pain. I’m not even sure you can un-love someone who you’ve cared about and invested in relationally. When friendships end, it is rarely mutual and positive, so you will have to trust your decision and be as respectful as possible.

Developing a Friendship With Your Spouse

Healthy marriages are marked by a strong friendship between partners. They have fun together, communicate openly, and want what’s best for each other. They aren’t greedy or possessive, and they support their partner having all kinds of friends. They love spending time together, but they also see the joy that outside friendships can bring to their partner and their relationship.

Partners who are good friends will also help you identify the people in your life who aren’t good friends.

They may do it verbally, or you may just start seeing the contrast between the way they care for you and the way an unhealthy friend tears you down. Either way, your marriage can provide a safe place to process outside relationships and a safe haven when you have to remove a toxic friend from your life.

Read Time: 4 minutes

Three Things I’ve Learned After 25 Years of Marriage: Part One

This may seem odd, but I don’t really like giving marital advice.

In order to give advice, you need to be thought of as someone who has attained a certain level of expertise on the subject at hand. In the area of marriage, even after 25+ years, I do not feel like an expert.

However, early on in our marriage my husband and I agreed that we would alway try to be learners, that we would try to grow individually and as a couple so we could have a strong and healthy relationship. We’ve kept that promise, and I’ve learned three important things along the way. Here is part one.

Nurturing Your Relationship Gets Harder When You Have Kids

It’s incredibly tempting to let your whole world revolve around your children when you become parents. Without even trying, kids are all-consuming with their physical, emotional, and educational needs.

This doesn’t stop as they become self-sufficient and the exhaustion of raising them transitions from worrying about feeding schedules and developmental milestones to their high school grades and dating choices.

Many parents shift, or even slowly drift, to expending all of their time and energy on their kids and neglecting their relationship with one another.

Date nights start being put off for school recitals and sporting events, conversations transition to detail swapping and scheduling logistics, and physical intimacy dwindles as couples deal with fatigue, fussy babies, and complicated bedtime routines.

Children Are Supposed to Leave the Nest, Spouses Are Not

One of the goals of parenting is to release self-sufficient adults into the world to make their own lives and create their own families. Couples who understand this realize they have to fight to nurture their marriage alongside raising their children.

They know that someday their children will leave their home, and they need something greater than co-parenting to keep them together.

My husband and I learned this lesson in a variety of ways over the years. We felt it as tension and anger that built up when we neglected each other. We saw it when we watched couples who made children their #1 priority struggle when their kids became adults. We realized it when we recognized that our kids, even when they were older, couldn’t handle our emotional needs in the way that we as partners could.

Understanding the Difference Between Your Identity and Your Roles

Because of the consuming nature of parenting, I sometimes found it difficult to separate my identity from the many roles I had as a wife and mother. I even introduced myself to new people by the roles I had:

“Hi, I’m Jessie, I’m Chris’s wife and a homeschooling mom of five.”

While those roles were wonderful and deeply satisfying parts of my life, they really weren’t who I was. They were wonderful gifts that allowed me to love and nurture people in an intimate way, but there was, and is, so much more to me.

Our identities, or who God uniquely created us to be, actually shape the way we perform our roles. We may grow and change, but the core of who we are remains quite steady. Understanding our identities can help us accept the changing demands of parenting, and it can help us have a healthier marriage.

Relieving Others of the Burden of Validating You

When our identities are rooted in the knowledge that God created us and gifted us with unique characteristics, we free ourselves and others from having to constantly validate us and make us feel important.

We love others more unconditionally, without a list of silent demands that can never fully be met.

This allows us to pour our attributes into parenting and being a spouse in healthier ways:

It allows us to create boundaries with our children because we can handle them being angry with us at times.

It allows us to let them become independent because we don’t need them to need us.

There are many more benefits, but these two alone are crucial to the health of your marriage.

Finding the Space to Focus on Your Marriage

There are a million ways to nurture your relationship as a couple while parenting, and it will be a constant flow of successes and failures, but making your marriage a priority is healthier for both couples and their children.

There are rhythms in life that provide natural places for rest, but couples with kids will always have to be intentional about spending time alone.

My husband and I used to joke that every time we went on a date, we ended up at the grocery store. Looking back, that’s not a negative thing at all.

Even taking the time to help each other with chores or routine tasks can be a bonding experience. In addition, couples have to figure out ways to be alone for small moments every day, and at least once a week for a couple of hours and once a year for an overnight retreat.

It’s About Progress, Not Perfection

If your marriage is growing, you’ll be able to see it. You’ll look back and see that you’ve grown closer, you understand each other more, and you’ve stopped having some of those petty arguments.

Your kids will see it too.

They will understand that their parents are a united front, there to offer love, support, and guidance as they navigate their way to independence.

It’s not always easy, but as your children become adults and move out, it’s incredibly gratifying to be left with your best friend. The partner you’ve shared so many memories with, worked through so many difficult moments with, and trusted with your most intimate thoughts and feelings. It also helps to have a wonderful friend who will still go to the grocery store with you.

Up Next:

Part Two: Your Sex Life Will Have Lots of Ups and Downs (Coming Soon!)

Read Time: 3 minutes

Moving in together is a big step in any relationship. You’ve just been married, and now you’re ready to take on your world together in a new home.

However, one of the biggest reasons couples fight at this stage, or any stage, is financial difficulties.

There are a few proactive actions you can take that’ll strengthen your relationship when it comes to finances and make the transition a little easier.

1. Have an Open and Honest Discussion

Having discussions about finances can be difficult for even the strongest of couples. During this discussion, you’ll want to evaluate the state of your individual finances and make some key decisions for your financial future. When entering into this important conversation, make sure to be respectful of others’ feelings and approaches to money, and be honest about the state of your finances when communicating to your partner.

Also, if you feel that the discussion has taken an unproductive turn, take a moment away from the conversation to relax, seek guidance, and remember this is the person you love. The important thing is to make sure you’re on the same page financially by the end of your conversation.

During these conversations, talk openly about your finances including student loans, credit card debt or other types of debt, savings goals, and retirement plans. This’ll help you understand your bigger financial picture as a married couple. Another decision you’ll need to come to by the end of this discussion is whether or not you want to combine your finances.

To some, marriage and living together means you should combine all aspects of your life, including finances.

However, there can be some advantages to keeping your finances separate, or having some things combined and others separate. It’s important to be understanding about your partner’s personal financial goals, and make sure to communicate about what you can work on together.

2. Decide to Rent or Own

The biggest decision you’ll make when moving in together is deciding where you’re going to live. In some situations, one partner will move into another partner’s current residence. Others prefer to start their life together in an entirely new home.

When beginning your search for your home, you’ll need to decide whether it’s best to rent or own.

After discussing your finances, you should have a pretty good understanding of how much you can afford to pay in rent. There’s often a preconceived notion that renting can save couples money, especially with recently raised interest rates. However, mortgage payments can be, at times, less of an expense.

Additionally, you’re working toward owning your home which is a financial asset as compared to paying rent, where the only benefit is having a living space. To see if owning is an option for you, you’ll need to figure out how much you can afford on a mortgage, which can be calculated by evaluating your credit score and your debt-to-income ratio. If you think owning is out of your budget, consider walking through this process first because it might be more within reach than you think.

3. Create Your Home’s Budget

Once you’ve decided if you’ll be renting or buying, you’ll want to create a budget for your home and your new family. When moving into a new place, there are always hidden costs that you’re not expecting initially. These costs include furniture, moving costs, appliances, and updates to your living space.

Even if you decided previously to keep your finances separate, this might be a good opportunity to open a joint account to pay for things such as the mortgage or rent, property taxes, utilities, and internet. This is a great way to ensure you’ve saved the correct amount of money each month collectively, and without needing to draw from your individual savings accounts to make these payments.

Once you have those expenses covered, you can start a simple budget for some of the other shared costs that you’ll incur monthly, such as streaming services, groceries, entertainment, pet costs, and home maintenance.

After living together in the home for 2 – 3 months, look at the money you’re spending in each category, and see where you can cut to increase savings. It might take some trial and error with your partner in these beginning months, but trust that with faith you and your partner will continue to grow.

Once you’re settled into your new home, you and your spouse can start enjoying your lives together. Remember to approach financial discussions with patience and to have financial health check-ups every now and again.

If you feel like you and your spouse are having disagreements about finances, or just experiencing difficult times, sometimes it can be best to see your priest, a financial counselor, and other marriage mentors in your life. Bumps in a marriage can happen, however with planning and understanding your life together can continue to grow through any obstacles.

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We won’t take up much of your time, but we wanted to share with you three fun things you can do with your spouse right now to really connect with each other (and two of them are free!).

  1. The Five Love Languages Quiz
    If you don’t do anything else on this list, please at least take the time to do this. If you have done it in the past, it’s always good to take this as a refresher (people sometimes do change over time!). It’s free, it’s easy to do and it will certainly help the two of you figure out how to fill each other’s love tanks!
  2. Date Night in a Box — Faith Option
    Add a faith option to your date night in a box subscription. Date night subscription boxes are already fun and engaging, so being able to connect with each other on a deeper level is always an added bonus!
  3. Dear Future Us Love Letters (Saves to your computer or device)
    Write each other a love letter as a time-stamp of what is happening in your relationship right now. Pack them away and set a reminder to open them up from each other in a year. This is such a great activity to do together — we can almost guarantee that you will both be pleasantly surprised at each other’s comments and notes! Feel free to make your own, OR you can download this template that we made for free (just for you!).

These are easy things you can do together as a couple to gain a refreshed sense of connectedness and romance. Who wouldn’t want that for their relationship?