Second Marriage Finances
6 Steps to a Successful Money Talk with Your Mate
For Richer, For Poorer
My husband and I are late bloomers. We married when I was 33 and Steve was 10 years older; it was his first marriage and my second. I had almost finished paying off debts left by a spendthrift ex-husband. Steve had managed to live on a modest income, but was still renting an apartment and had not accumulated much savings. In many ways, we were in the same position as twenty-somethings just entering the job market. Unfortunately, we had much less time left to put our lives in order.
When Steve was laid off two weeks before the wedding, we went straight into survival mode. It took my salary and most of our savings to make ends meet until we both found jobs and moved to a city with a lower cost of living. We were finally stable again and I was ready to start working on our long-term financial plan.
Unfortunately, Steve wasn't. He buried himself in work, and put off the financial planning sessions as often as he could. When I pressed the issue, he got defensive and irritable, and the calm discussion I had imagined would disintegrate into an argument. We were getting nowhere, and the frustration on both sides was putting a strain on our marriage.
I was baffled. I knew we had discussed our needs and expectations in detail before we married. We had so much in common! So, why were we having this much trouble making our dreams come true? With a little creative listening and some rare (for me!) patience, I began to really hear what Steve was telling me when we argued. It was subtle, but the message was clear, "It's all so insurmountable, what can we possibly do?" His defensiveness and negative attitude were evidence of his fears. We had waited so long to take charge of our lives and work toward our dreams; Steve couldn't see how we could even begin to make them happen.
I wasn't ready to throw in the towel, though, especially since I finally felt I had some idea of what Steve was thinking. So, through trial and error, during the next year we found some ways to calm both of our fears and begin working together as partners. I'm sure it's different for everyone, but here's what worked for us:
I wish I could say that by now we are sitting on a substantial nest egg and have already bought a home of our own. Neither is true, but we are happily getting closer to our goals. More importantly, we now have the loving partnership we always believed our marriage would be. And together we will continue to work toward the future one step at a time, no matter how long it may have taken us to bloom!
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