On September 16th, I will be celebrating my 12th wedding anniversary.  This Sunday I will have been married for 4,380 days (not counting leap years.) It’s kind of incredible to think that I have put up with my husband for that long, and he in turn, has put up with me.

I think that part of the reason that we drive each other crazy is because we are complete opposites. He’s a saver, I’m a spender. He’s a neat freak, I’m basically a slob. Rich is a medium rare steak type of guy and I prefer well done. He’s color blind and I’m not. (Which makes for fun disagreements about home décor and clothing choices.)

I’m not an expert on marriage, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned a few valuable lessons along the way. Lessons had I known before, it would have eliminated many of our “discussions” about finances and life in general.

  • Create A Budget In our 12 years of marriage, we have talked about how we should do this, and we’re tried to do it, but we’ve never been very successful. The reason is because for most of our marriage, tips made up the majority of our income. If you’ve ever tried to create a budget when you’re a waitress, it’s pretty hard. Now that we both have more consistent incomes, it’s something we should work on again. There is also nothing wrong with separate money for personal spending as long as you also have joint money for combined expenses. Having separate accounts can sometimes lead to resentment about 1 person paying less for bills or one person having more money than the other.For Rich and me, we have a joint account that we use for paying our bills groceries and other family expenses. Since Rich doesn’t spend money unless he has to, I have a personal checking account that I keep a small portion of my paycheck in for personal expenses such as new clothes, haircuts, and other “frivolous” things. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was hoarding some money of his own in coffee cans buried out in the woods somewhere.
  • Have Some Spending Rules I know some people who don’t make a single purchase without the other person knowing about it or approving it. For some people, that works.  For my husband and me, it doesn’t work that way. If we are planning to make a larger purchase, we will talk about it together but even that sometimes, doesn’t happen. Rich loves to metal detect. (Feel free to either make fun of him or be jealous.) For those of you who don’t know, metal detectors can be pretty expensive. There may be a conversation where wanting a new metal detector is brought up, but typically I’m not consulted before the purchase is made. Again, since my husband is a penny pincher and rarely spends money, it doesn’t make me mad to not be consulted. Someday, he’ll hopefully find a really rare coin and we’ll have more money than we know what to do with it.
  • Don’t Keep Secrets I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of this. I have snuck shopping bags in the house when Rich isn’t home. I’ve also uttered the words “I’ve had this forever; you just haven’t seen me wear it before” more times than I can count. I think at this point, it’s become somewhat of a game. He acts like he believes me when I tell him I’ve had something forever. I act like he believes me when I tell him that I’ve had something forever.
  • Communication And Respect! I think these are the biggest hurdles when it comes to any relationship. And they seem like the easiest things to do.

Remember how I said that we were complete opposites? I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  Sure, my marriage isn’t perfect. We’ve gone through rough times and I’m sure we will have more rough times ahead.  But I think our differences compliment each other quite nicely. He encourages me to watch my spending habits, and I make him throw out his ratty t-shirts and buy new ones every once and awhile. He forces me to help clean the house, and I force him to learn to live with arts and crafts projects, glitter, and occasional chaos.