When I was freshly engaged, I envisioned so many aspects of my soon-to-be-married life: slow weekends and sipping our coffee leisurely on our apartment balcony, double dates with friends, grocery shopping and cooking together… I was basically envisioning our life through the lens of a Crate & Barrel catalog.
Nowhere in those pages did I see couples hashing out finances and poring over spreadsheets. We touched on financial planning in our premarital counseling, but it seemed so stressful and unsexy at the time! Now, ten years into our marriage, I have seen the light and relish in a routine that we’ve instituted: monthly financial and life logistics planning meetings (while sipping our coffee or making dinner together). The longer we are married, the more value I find (and dare I say a little bit of sexiness??) in this regularly planned dialogue with my partner.
A Brief History
My partner and I discussed our finances very openly and honestly before we were engaged, and during our engagement preparations. We set a list of short-term goals (start contributing to our respective retirements, pay off student loan debt, start saving for a house, etc.), but we hadn’t yet experienced each other’s day-to-day financial living style as a partnership. Three years into our marriage, we began seriously considering buying our first home, and we decided to check in with each other on our budget monthly. It was a vulnerable and uncomfortable experience to really dive into every dollar we were spending and check receipts with each other. As someone with an aversion to financial talk in general, I felt humbled and awkward. I didn’t always enjoy our meetings, but having the end-goal of buying our first home in mind helped me stay the course.
Evolution Over Time
After we bought our first house, we added more expenses to our monthly budget chats: homeownership costs, house projects, new savings goals, and at this point we had already added one child to our family unit and knew we hoped to have more. We decided that these financial meetings were a good habit – we were reaching our goals and our communication was truly thriving. Talking about finances so openly and honestly helped our communication in other areas of our marriage, as well. As we added more children to our home and social commitments to our life, I realized that this monthly money talk was also a good opportunity to go over our family calendar, and thus the monthly Navigator’s Council Meeting was born.
Where We Are Today
Two houses, three kids, and ten years into our partnership, our monthly meetings continue to go strong. We aren’t as strict on having them the first week of the month because we can feel when it’s been a while and we both need to sit down and hash it all out. We adopted the title Navigator’s Council Meetings (a reference to the book A Severe Mercy) for our meetings since we steer the ship of our family.
Each meeting has a general format we like to follow:
- Personal Goals
- Love Note
We don’t always cover each topic, and sometimes we spend more time on one topic than another. We always make sure to end on a hopeful and loving note to each other. After getting all the family administration talk out of the way, we want to remind each other that we have these meetings to live out our love better for each other and our family unit.
These meetings were a huge adjustment for me and our relationship. They took time, effort, vulnerability, and some deep work and reflection on my own financial insecurities and trauma. Respectfully discussing our finances and life logistics has transformed my marriage in ways I never expected. We are hoping one day to add our kids to the mix to instill in them the importance of such conversations for themselves and any relationships they may have in the future.
Deep and honest financial conversations may not be idealized in every wedding planning magazine, but they will transform your partnership in ways that are much more fulfilling than that perfect, coffee-sipping magazine photo couple any day.