Have you ever done this- Your husband just got his paycheck. He says he wants a new whatever. A new xbox. A new bow (in my case). A new car. And you thought "Well, it's his money. He should be able to do what he wants with it because he earned it." Not exactly true my friend.
When one enters a marriage, there is no 'my' money or 'your' money. The only time my husband and I practice this is with gifts. I don't buy him presents with his money and he doesn't buy me presents with my money. Otherwise, everything is 'our' money. I haven't always been a stay at home mom after all. When we first got married, I worked too. And I paid some bills with my money, and some bills with his money. Because they were OUR bills and OUR money. When we bought a house, I paid all the closing costs, totaling $5000, or my entire savings account as a waitress in college. My husband paid every house payment since we lived there ($250 a month for going on 3 years now I think).
There were times we did say "It's your money, do what you want with it" and often that's where our most regrettable, and frivolous purchases have arisen. Like my husband has a weakness for MLM companies. During our first year of marriage, he wanted to get involved with one that had a $5000 start up. I said I didn't think it would sell well for a start up of $5000, but that it was his money to do with what he wished. And if he truly believed he could make money by investing it, to go ahead. Well, let's just say we lost $5000. I haven't made any such extreme purchases, but I did buy gifts for people that were $40-$50 for Christmas and stuff, and now our budgets for some are around $15, so spending $50 5 years ago seems wasteful to me. Since everything is 'our' money though, we discuss before just about nay purchase now. I do have a rule that if it's under $50 Sean doesn't have to bother me with asking about it, because he purchases $20 hunting items all the time that I don't care about. But in a single household that makes under $50,000 a year, with him supporting me not working and the baby, $50 is a lot of money.
And just because he is the only one out in the workforce, does not mean I don't get to spend 'our' money. I do ask his opinion prior to buying something. Like "Hey honey, I'm going to order some formula. We have $80 in the bank right?" or "Hey Rue21 has buy one get one jeans and I need some. 2 pair would be $20. Mind if I go get some?" and he will say yes or no and we'll discuss it.
One thing we do sometimes struggle with is comparing our days. I say I'm tired cause the baby kept me up. He says you're tired? Try working a 12 hour shift. Or vice versa. He comes home from work saying he's tired. And I'll say you're tired? I haven't slept longer than 4 hours in 6 months. It's not a fair thing to do, but the thing is we don't hold grudges for it, because we say "Yeah you're right" and appreciate the other's tiredness.
I think that compromising and admitting someone else is right might be the two hardest parts of a marriage. But when you start doing both so much that it becomes natural for both persons, then a marriage really can thrive, with both people feeling heard, appreciated, and loved.
I want to contrast this with other marriages I know. One for instance. The couple lived together prior to getting married and split everything. Well, after marriage they've continued this philosophy. They each pay half the rent, and try and split everything 50/50, despite one making significantly more than the other. It is leading to resentment on the part of the one who doesn't earn as much of course. Because why should they have to pay for half of their spouse's car when said spouse is going to pick out the car without their input? It doesn't make much sense. Give me your money so I can buy what I want is never the way to do things. And neither is living like roommates once you're married. You are a unit. You are one.
Another marriage I know, the man works and the woman did work, but earned significantly less. He would say to her and others "I pay for her to live. Don't know where she'd be without me." It's a very self serving attitude. When you have that sort of mentality, you start to think your spouse OWES you something for the life you two have decided to live together.
Another marriage. The spouses both earn money, but they want to live a lifestyle beyond their means. One has to have a 50 inch TV, a house with at least 2000 sq ft, and a garage. The other has to have acreage, a pole barn, and at least a 2 door garage. Bring the two together, both non-compromising, and you've got 2 people who are just spending money to make themselves happy in the moment. They could be financially secure by now, but the struggle paycheck to paycheck, because they HAVE to have certain things to be happy.
My husband and I don't have an ipad. Or smartphones. Or a desktop computer. Or two running vehicles. Or even mp3 players. Our one TV is 32 inches. We don't have cable or satellite. We use it to watch movies. We watch tv through hulu. We are happy if the fridge is stocked basically, and have one computer with internet. I don't understand why some people need things like a new bow to hunt with or a new motorcycle to be happy, when they simply do not have the money. Sean tells me all the time how the guys at his work use their tax return to go into debt, while we use it to pay off debts (like our last one was used to pay off Sean's car). Things like this do not help a marriage at all. It just brings more stress because someone selfishly HAS to have something, when it brings down your situation as a family.
Another marriage. They divorced because they weren't in love anymore. They were still friends. they got along. Never fought. But they wanted to find that love again (they had 4 children). I personally, think this is selfish. You go through seasons as a couple. There are times I haven't loved Sean. And I'm sure there are times he hasn't loved me. I didn't abandon ship and say it's never going to regrow. And it has. Even if it never did, I'd still be married to a great guy and friend. And this was before we had the baby. Now that we have him, I can't imagine putting him through a divorce for this reason.
Another marriage I know of- the wife was cheating on her husband as a sort of, mid life crisis if you will. She was around younger guys and decided to fool around. She asked for a divorce, and the man did everything he could to keep it together. Counseling, and what not, wanting to make it work. She just wanted out. Eventually she got her way, but he had still fought, despite her infidelities. Big contrast between who was selfish here and who was selfless.
Basically, I feel if we could all be a little more selfless, the divorce rate wouldn't be where it is. Some people blame the age one gets married. Or the age one has kids at. Or their parenting style. I just think it's all about attitude.