‘For richer, for poorer’…. it’s right there in the traditional marriage vows, but how many of us consider the consequences of actually living it out in the real world? The sad statistic is that up to 50% of marriages end in divorce, with finances (or lack of them) being a major cause of marital disharmony.
Feeling The Financial Strain
In a marriage where only one spouse is working there is often financial strain: sometimes the stress comes through the loss of a job and unemployment; even if the choice is a conscious one of only having one person working so that the other can stay home to raise children, it can still be hard.
After all, at the end of the day it still means less income for the family.
In either situation, the key is often a mindset shift: a mom may not be working outside of the home, but she is still bringing something equally important to the table. A father may have lost his job, but he is spending his days looking for the next opportunity – they are both working hard, just not in the traditional sense.
Communication Is Key
The key to marital harmony in so many ways is often good communication – and it’s no different when dealing with finances.
It’s a good idea to sit down together and agree on a plan and a budget. What’s right for one family won’t work for another – for some a ‘household’ account that a stay-at-home-mom is in charge of would be perfect, others see this as too limiting, and prefer one general account that both partners spend from. You may want to work out a ‘blow’ budget for each spouse – once the household bills and savings are taken care of, each person gets half of the remaining amount to do as they please. This can work particularly well if one person is a saver and one is a spender, as there’s no resentment for one person spending their cash monthly whilst the other saves up for a larger purchase.
Do What You Can With What You Have
If finances are a strain with only one parent in work (for whatever reason), then it is a good idea to make sure you are getting all the financial help you are entitled to – this will vary by state, so make sure to check your local government website. Think outside the box too – there are creative ways you can earn a little extra money from home, from taking online surveys to selling unwanted or outgrown items on eBay, any of which can be fitted in around nap times or school runs, giving a little extra wiggle room in the budget.
Your Family, Your Rules
Remember that what works for one family will not be right for another – communicate well, make a plan, ensure you are getting all the help you are entitled to, and think creatively to ensure the family finances are in good shape to help keep your marriage strong.
Article provided by: Jackie Edwards, Freelance Contributor