How do you communicate with your spouse about money?

Two adults one child’s recent post about getting her husband on board with a joint spending/retirement plan and the hiccups therein got me thinking.  How does one communicate about money with one’s spouse?  There seem to be so many different examples on the blogosphere, from couples who write personal finance blogs together and have money discussions and their joint views as a center to their relationship to couples who continually harbor resentment, keep score, hide, and fight about purchases.  (The latter are somewhat difficult to read!)

#1:  I think the way I communicate about money issues with my DH is probably not transferable to most people.  When we got married, I basically told him, this is the way it is going to be because this is what we can afford and whenever we got a negative shock (“Wait, you have 10K in student loans that you didn’t know about?”  “Wait, I have to pay capital gains taxes on stocks I didn’t know I owned that are now worthless because my father transferred them to me right before the company went bankrupt?”) I would freak out and cry a lot and he’d try to make me feel better.  As we got into better financial situations we would discuss our goals with what we could do with our relaxed spending.  So with him not worrying his pretty little head about money at first and then mainly only positive money interactions after, it hasn’t been an issue.  We’d figure out how to solve problems by talking them through (like DH getting miserable because he either wants to spend all his money or none of his money and both states of the world are bad– solved by an allowance that allows him to spend all his money without hurting our finances).

These days money isn’t that big a deal and we have a lot of systems in place that set precedents for most spending.  We still check with each other for big things and DH stays within his allowance for his fun money.

#2:  We talk about things…. like, “Hey, just so you know, I’m thinking of spending money on X.  Is that ok with you?”  Before that (when we had a lot less money) we had really separate finances.  We still do, to a large amount. 

He does joint taxes for us both.  We tell each other after we’ve made charitable contributions, usually.  But mostly we’re responsible with our own stuff and have these systems with our joint stuff.

So that’s how we communicate about money.  If applicable, how do you guys communicate with interested parties about money?

I will not marry my best friend

… and I’m sure #2 is pretty happy about that.

(#2 says:  Awwwww!  I’m blushing! … Or maybe that’s sunburn…)

I know #2 probably disagrees with me here, but I don’t think your spouse or life-partner should be your best friend.  If they are, I feel like maybe you’re not getting out enough (and I say this as one of nature’s most introverted people, ever).  The cultural myth that you must marry your best friend both devalues friendships with anyone else, and also puts way too much pressure on your romantic relationship. People who believe in perfect soulmates tend to get divorced more often than those of us who know that real relationships take work.*

*This sentence is backed up by data but I am too lazy to dig out the citations from the class I took in college a million years ago.  Either look it up yourself or just take my word for it.  It’s a blog.

Friendships are in a different category for me, and I think it’s really important to have intimate emotional connections with people outside your primary romantic partnership.  I wouldn’t say that what I have with my partner is a friendship, though it shares many aspects: we hang out together, enjoy each other’s company, make each other laugh, have in-jokes, share our feelings, are there for each other through thick and thin, are authentic around each other, etc.  But it’s so qualitatively different for me from a friendship, and not just because of the sex.  We have a piece of each other’s souls.  My friends are great, don’t get me wrong (hugs to #2!), and I do love them, but they don’t complete me the way my lover does.  They don’t make me want to be a better person the way he does.

By the way, to all those people who say things like “This chocolate mousse is better than sex!”, I have something to say to you:

There is nothing better than sex.  Nothing.  If there is something in your life better than sex, I sincerely feel that’s really too bad, and I sincerely and deeply hope that you can find peace and healing in your sex life.  You might want to check out Emily Nagoski, Sex Nerd.  Unless you identify as asexual, in which case, rock on with whatever it is you do to recharge your spirit!

#2 offers a different perspective:  I’m totally a hopeless romantic and my partner, if not my only best friend, is definitely my best male friend.  And it is true that we may be a little codependent, but we’re ok with that.  We have been a couple for almost 17 years now and he still makes my heart pitta-pat and I still want to hear what happened in his life during the time we were apart each day.  (And no, our relationship really doesn’t take work, but that’s only because he’s perfect and I recognize that he’s perfect.)

Do we think this post is controversial enough?  Readers, is your romantic partner your best friend?