Whether you’re newly married or been together for decades these 3 topics are essential and if you’ve haven’t already you should set aside some time to go over and discuss viewpoints on each.
There is no right or wrong answer but rather your answers will reflect your thoughts, dreams, goals, outlook for the future. While the ideal of course would be for the 2 of you to share the same viewpoints; a difference of opinion isn’t catastrophic, it just means you need to work to find a mutually agreeable compromise.
Whichever the outcome of these conversations it’s important to be completely honest and communicate openly with each other sharing your thoughts. One of the most toxic things in a relationship are unspoken unfulfilled expectations and assumptions.
You’re together for love, so what does money have to do with it? Well unfortunately money problems are the number 1 reason for divorce in America. Taking the time to plan out goals together can help you cross over and navigate this potential minefield. When both of you have the same goals and you begin to view them as Our Goals then you create a unity of purpose that is a powerful foundational bedrock for you relationship. I urge you to not only have this conversation but to actually commit to and write these goals on paper. On top of that come back to these goals from time to time to refresh them in your memory or revise them as needed. I’d also say to celebrate your accomplishments as you achieve them.
For Darla and myself at the beginning of each year we discuss what we want to accomplish this year, where we want to be in 5 years and where we want to be in 10 years. Many times we’ll create Vision Boards that represent our goals. We’ll typically create 3 boards, 1 for each of our personal goals and a joint family board. If you’ve never created a Vision Board what you do is get some poster board and paste pictures, images and words that represent your goals. It’s important once you create your board to put it somewhere where you will see it constantly and I like to take some time every other day or so to really look at my board and let my imagination play through what it would be like to have achieved my goals.
What do your goals look like? Short-term? Medium-term? Long-term? Retirement planning? Investing and saving? Vacation fund? New home or car?
Lifestyle and Career Goals
Your lifestyle and career goals are in many ways an outgrowth of your financial goals. Some people are savers and others are spenders. Some people are workaholics others just want to do enough to get by and get their fulfillment outside of work. Here’s an excellent example of a case where Darla and I are different. I’m a spender and she’s a saver. I’ve learned over the years to save, invest, and grow my money but at my core, my initial gut reaction is to get a dollar and then spend it. I always want to buy something new, to buy the biggest and best of whatever, I always want the deluxe or luxury version of anything I buy. Darla always jokes and says if I were a dog I’d be a poodle. Darla on the other hand you give her a dollar and before you can blink she’s saved it, invested it and earned 10% on her money!
How do we deal with this? Well we handle our money in percentages; certain percentage goes to savings, investing, paying down debt, living, and a certain amount is set aside for splurges. Sometimes the amount in that fund is a lot and others not so much but this set up helps satisfy my desire to splurge, her desire to save and always makes sure we are on track to meet our financial goals.
In the end this conversation is all about how you want to make and spend your money. For the both of us we share a belief that freedom of time is more important than gross income and that thinking has always guided our decisions when it comes to work and money.
Children and Family
Having children and raising a family are major investments in emotions, time, energy, money and resources. Children are a major responsibility and it’s important both parents are in agreement on the many topics involved.
Questions like: How many children? Public or Private School? Rules of the house? Discipline? Parental responsibilities?
All these are critical discussions to have and communicate each others viewpoints. It can be very toxic when one or both of the parents have assumptions on the roles and responsibilities of the other and then feel the other party isn’t living up to their end of the bargain – even if these assumptions were never verbalized to the other, people will still feel let down and disappointed. This is why free-flowing non-judgmental communication between the 2 of you is so critical to a successful relationship.