2 Money Habits That Hurt My Marriage

Today’s post is written by Nick Pavlidis. Nick was recently featured on The Good Men Project, asking the one question to tell if you’re a terrible husband.

Nick and I are doing a blog swap today. You can find my post at his site, Step Away from the Mall.

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On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May 2008 my wife and I had a Big Fat Greek Wedding surrounded by 250 of our closest friends and relatives and 4 wedding crashers.

The Sunday thing was my idea to save a few bucks on vendors who would still have Saturday to sell. While I thought that was pretty brilliant at the time, it resulted in several people not making it to our celebration. In hindsight, the wedding was amazing and everyone there had a great time (open bar helped…) but several people had Memorial Day commitments and were missed. (It’s also possible that I’m just unlikable…).

We have made several big and little decisions with money in the years since that day. And since I’m more of the “money guy” in the relationship, I tend to get a little excited about making these decisions. Yet even with a healthy opinion on money and tireless commitment to planning well with money for our future, I still battle two big money habits that have bitten my marriage in the backside more times t
han I’d like to admit.

The bad news is that I allowed these habits to continue. My bum is sore and my marriage has a few scars as well.

But the good news is that overcoming these habits provides incredible opportunities to strengthen our money and marriage over time.

Ok, enough about my tushie. Here are the habits:

1. Not asking for my wife’s opinion

This has come up more than I care to admit. My instinct is to take things off her plate and protect her from some of the stress that’s inherent in making tough money decisions.

That leads me to make decisions without consulting her.

And not only does that make her feel undervalued or unloved, I have no doubt that most of our money mistakes have come from solo decisions.

Her input is fresh and from the perspective of someone who isn’t as much of a “numbers person” as me.

And most of the time that reveals the real-world consequences that some of my “ideas” would have.

Undesired and unintended consequences. Yes, if we put 25% of our take home pay into retirement, another 10% into a college fund for our son, and another 10% into a college fund for our daughter we will be all set in 20 years!

But we will also be pretty skinny because it would not leave much for “food,” after paying our home, car, and other expenses. 🙂

And while I could probably stand to shed a few lbs these days, agreeing to the intensity level with which we work, spend, save, and give, is powerful for our relationship.

She feels more loved and valued. I have an extra opportunity to connect with her. And we often get better results on a plan we both agree to.

Win, win, win.

2. Not trying on my wife’s shoes

I’ve been known to accidentally wear my wife’s socks to work. That’s what happens when you blindly grab a pair of black socks from the clothes basket in the morning on the way out the door.

But when making money decisions I often make them based upon “my logic,” or I agree, but say something stupid about a potential purchase without first taking her size sevens for a spin around the block.

“$25 for a mani-pedi? Isn’t that just paint on nails? Don’t they sell whole jugs of paint with a free brush at the grocery store for $1? I don’t get it, but I’m not going to stop you.”

It turns out I don’t have to get it. But now I do. Because I asked.

My ignorant assessment of the “value” of a mani-pedi fails to take into account the “me time,” “experience,” and “hand or foot massage” that comes with the mani-pedi.

And those are totally “worth” way more than the $25 Wednesday special mani-pedi hits our wallet.

The heartache these could have saved.

I battle these habits every day. I’m a “doer,” which means I like to get just enough information to make an informed decision and move on.

If it’s the right decision, great. If it’s the wrong decision, I’ll make another one.

But marriage and money are about way more than just the “decision.”

The process counts just as much or even more than the result.

And that’s why in school giving the right answer to a math problem only gets you partial credit.

You only get full credit when you “show your work” and get to the answer the right way.

Just like marriage. Getting to decisions the right way will only enhance your relationship, and results.

What’s one money habit that you struggle with that interfere with you connecting with your spouse? And better yet, what can you do today that helps you connect better with your wife about love and money?

Nick Pavlidis is a husband, father, lawyer, and business and life coach whose upcoming book, Confessions of a Terrible Husband: Lessons Learned from a Lumpy Couch, exposes how he became a terrible husband, discovered that he was a terrible husband, took inventory, and committed to becoming better and better each day. He is a proud marriage “nonexpert” who is working tirelessly to improve his marriage in the open so he can insprire, encourage, and equip others to improve theirs. You can get the latest news and Nick’s real-time updates on becoming a better husband at the Confessions of a Terrible Husband blog.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Thanks for letting me have some fun over here Kristin!

    • Nick, I really loved your post. Thank you for sharing it on my blog.

  • In our house, I’m the money spouse (shocking right?). When we were broke and I felt the stress of all the bills, I would get angry with my husband because he wasn’t stressed about it. It was completely my fault because I was not sharing the information with him on a regular basis. Since we got on a budget, he knows our financial situation and we share in the decision making. It’s made such a huge difference.

    • Ha! Totally shocking! Pretty funny that you were angry because he wasn’t stressed. A few folks have experienced similar things with me. One friend recently asked why I never seem to get stressed out… as if that’s a really bad thing! But yeah, sometimes you’re not stressed out because of a lack of information. Other times, like me, it’s just not my personality. And that can be REALLY annoying to people, haha!

      • I am a recovering type A personality. I have gotten a lot better but back in the day, the stress levels were really high.

  • Jeffery Ingram

    I agree most people would be shocked to know that Kristin is the Money person in our house. I am great with numbers and I am a numbers guy and doer at work. At home I am a dreamer and the free spirit. However, I think that the best thing we did was start going over the budget together. I can and have point out things that needed to changes. In general, I do agree with the budget when we go over it. She really is that good. However, it is good to talk about not only the money. But what is coming up over the next month. If I know the money is tight. I can get real cheap with my fun money. When I don’t know I will use it all without any thought.

    • Totally, for us, undiscussed but predictable expenses are often a little bit of a stresser. But whenever we look ahead at the holidays, gifts, events., etc., and plan for them it makes for a much smoother month!

  • Jeffery Ingram

    Plus, I learned the magic words that make life better for all husbands, “I am sorry dear, it is my fault.” Learned it from Charlton Heston. I use it often and even when she would not blame me. These words are magic and need to be used by more men.

    • So powerful to add the second part. John G. Miller of QBQ.COM added at the end of that some additional awesomesauce during my interview of him for the Confessions of a Terrible Husband podcast: “Can you forgive me?” Asking for forgiveness has been a pretty awesome “reset” in my marriage!