Waiting Too Long to Save Money Took a Toll on My Marriage

couple working on their finances togetherMy husband and I are late bloomers ... at least when it comes to our joint bank account. Oh, like many couples our age, we moved in together after about a year of dating. One move and four years later, we were engaged. But then there was a wedding to pay for over the course of the next year, and after that, another move, and a lot of talk without much -- okay, any -- action in regard to putting money away for a rainy day together.

In short, we didn't start a joint savings plan and didn't have a concrete plan for paying down a small amount of debt (mine, for the record) until this month -- a full year-and-a-half after tying the knot.

And yeah, part of me is pretty ashamed to admit that. Why couldn't we have our acts together from Day One? Why did it take us so long?

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I'm usually the first to sing the praises of any sort of emotional reaction. Better to vent feelings than repress them, I say! Better to be passionate than dull! But when it comes to money, a problem my husband and I seemed to have -- and we are, admittedly, still working on -- is too much emotion!

It can be really damn hard to stick to the facts when instead of numbers, one of you sees security while the other sees spending power. Or you're disappointed, stressed, anxious, insert any other intense, gnawing emotion by the endless cycle of income vs. expenses.

More from The Stir: Marriage 911: What Do You Do When You Don't Agree on Money?

But the worst, most toxic emotion easily triggered by financial disagreements by FAR is resentment. Some might say it's even a precursor for contempt, which is basically like poison for a relationship.

We weren't the first couple to have a mixture of these emotions morph into one big ball and chain, holding us back from moving forward as a married couple with a new game plan.

I can't tell you exactly how we broke free. All I know is that at one point recently, my husband proposed specific solutions to eliminating the debt and beginning to put a set amount away each month (to save up for a down payment on a house). He explained how each would work, step-by-step, and after doing my own research and letting the ideas sink in, I agreed.

Maybe better communication and separating facts from feelings helped. However it happened, we're finally on our way.

In retrospect, I know we're both frustrated that it took as long as it did. But whether you're talking about saving together, coming up with a way to divvy up household chores, or finally learning how to cope with in-laws, couples get their acts together in all different timeframes.

Furthermore, there's no sense getting so bogged down with emotion that you can't move forward. There's no reason to fixate on the past that you can't start down the path that leads to your future.

After all, it may not be in our vows --  and at least this was a newsflash for lil' Ms. Perfectionist me -- but making mistakes and even disappointing one another on occasion is a reality of marriage! It's getting past all of those mistakes that allows you to see the forest for the trees, strategize, and build a life together. Maybe that didn't happen as quickly for us as we had wished it would, but it is happening. And that's certainly something we can be proud of.

How did you and your husband come up with the financial plan that worked best for you? Were there emotional bumps along the way?


Image © Roy McMahon/Corbis

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