Growing up, I rarely considered married life. I planned to be an untethered jet-setter, rocking my “Rachel” haircut, high heels, and a cell phone. A husband was hardly on my radar, let alone a financially responsible husband.
When I gave cursory thoughts to true love and a life partner, I imagined Heath Ledger as Patrick Verona in 10 Things I Hate About You — a broody yet sensitive bad boy. “Being financially responsible” was not on my list of criteria for a partner.
I never found my Patrick Verona, but I can’t say I’m disappointed with the way things turned out. My husband’s thoughtfulness and responsibility with finances has strengthened our marriage and increased our quality of life.
My Financially Responsible Guy
When I first met my husband (on an Ultimate Frisbee team), he struck me as a regular, clean-cut guy: nothing extraordinary about him. He wasn’t the cutest player on the team, nor the most athletic. He held an ordinary job, and after games he went home to his ordinary condo. Even his name — Rob — was an ordinary name.
Then, one Sunday afternoon, I noticed something about Rob that I had never observed before. It was a close game, we had been fighting hard, but the other team were relentless defenders. But, I noticed that every time the other team trapped me on the sideline, Rob suddenly opened up for a pass.
I share this anecdote not as a testament to Rob’s athleticism nor a repudiation of it but, rather, as a testament of his character.
Rob wasn’t the best athlete, but he was the most dependable.
He gave 110 percent every minute he played, and nobody caught him out of position. After getting to know him better, I learned that Rob’s dependability extends beyond the field, passing on to his life in general — a quality that I find very sexy.
Rob shows up when he says he will show up. He fixes the bathroom ceiling when it crumbles, and he texts me every single day at 1 p.m. to tell me he loves me.
But Rob’s dependability runs even deeper than that. It is a quality of his that is extremely meaningful to me beyond its tangible manifestations. His dependability is an outward expression of an inner commitment to our relationship, our family, and our shared values. That is the main reason why, today, I can approach our relationship and our finances without fear. It’s the reason we can share a bed, a bank account, and a budget.
Isn’t Financial Responsibility Boring?
A financially responsible mate might not be the seductive star of a romantic comedy, but my husband’s financial responsibility enables our family to make decisions that are not shadowed by outstanding debts or other financial limitations. To me, a husband that wants financial freedom and a high-quality life for his family is far more attractive than some of the “leading man” stereotypes portrayed in films.
Indeed, Rob embraces the nine-to-five mindset, he stays in his comfort zone by working for already established companies, and no matter how brilliant and marketable I think his ideas are, I cannot convince Rob to drop out of school to start a business with me.
Rob takes pride in his willingness to do the mundane well, and sometimes that drives me crazy. However, I have to remind myself that just because Rob doesn’t concede to my every whim does not mean that he doesn’t care about me; in fact, it indicates the opposite.
Money and Financial Responsibility Matters
As partners, my husband and I also share finances. And despite our differences and occasional disagreements, we have found an effective way to do so.
First of all, it’s crucial that you and your partner understand each other’s relationship with money.
Even though the topic may feel taboo, you and your spouse need to discuss your feelings about money. Did you or your partner struggle financially growing up? Do you or your partner rely on financial support from your parents? Have you or your partner experienced financial abuse? Do you or your partner resent money?
Though some of these questions may seem overboard, considerations like these are actually totally reasonable. Our finances are so important precisely because money is impactful far beyond its quantifiable value.
“During this process be sure to communicate any shortcomings or voice any questions or concerns with one another,” says certified financial planner Michael Shea. “It can be fun to talk about money and the future when things are working but the opposite is also true. Each person needs to be open, forgiving, and noncombative when discussing money.”
“It’s not uncommon for some to feel uncomfortable or shameful around money,” says Shae. “This needs to be addressed and understood if positive progress is to be made. So, be honest and up front about what you want to do together.”
Set Budgets Together and Hold Each Other Accountable
Every month, the financially responsible Rob wants to sit down with a spreadsheet and crunch numbers. At first, this seemed unenjoyable and unnecessary. Soon, though, I realized that outlining a budget or at least being aware of our spending is necessary and doesn’t have to feel limiting.
For example, every time I significantly overspend on groceries, Rob asks me about it so we can figure out where to cut back for the rest of the month.
When Rob alerts me to my overspending, it encourages me to observe my spending habits. I’ve found that I can buy everything we need at the grocery store within our budget; in other words, having a budget isn’t too constricting. Paying attention to our spending and keeping each other accountable ensures our financial safety and comfort.
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Be Transparent About Your Spending
Whenever Rob buys anything, I am informed via a text message! It can be, at times, a bit disheartening to be alerted every time money leaves your account… until you realize how much control this actually gives you over your finances, rather than the other way around.
Being forthright, honest, and transparent with our finances has allowed Rob and me to make decisions with more freedom.
For example, I recently made the choice to stay at home with our kids while Rob finishes school. That choice wouldn’t be possible without a dependable partner, a financial safety net, and a clear understanding of our financial situation.
“We always have the best of intentions, but the reality is that things come up, especially with money, and you will need to make changes accordingly,” says Shea. “You may be ahead or behind schedule so tracking and monitoring the progress will let you know if you need to make any adjustments.”
Use a Shared System
In order to ensure that you and your partner are communicating as openly as possible about your finances, take advantage of a shared system of documentation that you update frequently.
“When two or more people are managing finances together, they need to have a central system to see all their accounts and transactions. This can be through their bank’s online portal, accounting software, financial planning software, or a spreadsheet for example,” suggests Shea.
“A spreadsheet or software will help everyone track their progress,” Shea adds. “It should be monitored periodically to see if anything needs to be changed or updated.”
The Bottom Line
People like Rob are not just dependable, they are durable, financially responsible individuals who take care of their loved ones.
Most importantly, though, Rob makes our marriage feel like a true partnership.
Managing finances responsibly and fairly with someone else can be stressful and emotionally taxing, but Rob’s financial responsibility has instead alleviated stress and empowered me in my marriage. We support each other’s dreams, and what could be sexier than that?
Our financial circumstances and desires will change over time — and our incomes will grow and shrink — but no matter what, I’m thankful for my dependable husband and the peace of mind of well-managed finances.