And how I try to rein in her spending and how we maintain our frugal lifestyle.
Some friends are typically nonchalant about it cos they don't care about spending.
Some think, I'm lucky to have a wife who is ok to listen to me and accept a frugal lifestyle.
And other friends would say why am I bothering about her spending if she is spending her own money.
Now, everyone has their own views on what a relationship should be and everyone is free to pursue it in whatever way they want to.
This is my answer and rationale.
If you believe it or you subscribe to a similar thinking, fine, otherwise, by all means do what suits you.
When we were not married, I didn't care what she bought. I shopped with her to buy a watch before.
It was $400. She bought a Tiffany trinket before. It was $300 for a small lump of silver. I didn't care.
It was when our relationship started getting serious that I started bothering.
After 2 years it was highly likely that we would get married in future.
That's when we started thinking as 1 entity. Essentially, her decisions affect our future.
My decisions also affect our future together.
Now. This is not just a spending thing. It's also a values thing.
And all these are meant to be discussed and agreed upon.
Like our retirement goals, kids, how to take care of our parents, how we want to live, etc.
To me, we should be able to discuss everything. Nothing is too petty to be discussed. What is petty to
one might be very serious to another. So we respect that each of our priorities are different so we MUST
listen and discuss with the other party regardless of how petty it may sound.
(See previous post on priorities.)
So if she wants to spend all her money. Does it affect me?
Yes it does. It affects our retirement goals as well. Same as if I do it on my end.
IF she wants to buy her luxury products, and chase material stuff constantly. I'd take that as a serious
differing of values. Should this be discussed? Yes. And we should come to a conclusion that both parties agree on.
If we can't agree. Then what can we do to to mitigate it?
Like if she wants to buy more clothes and shoes. Then we come to a compromise.
She can buy a certain number of pieces every few months.
And what if we still cannot agree on that? Then we file for divorce.
I'm very practical about marriage. It's very simple. If we aren't better together, then we might as well
not be together. If our values differ significantly and cannot be met in the middle. Different people have different values and there is no right or wrong in many situations.
BUT we are living as husband and wife. And if our values differ, then there is no point getting married
at all or remaining married.
You can have different values as me and that's fine.
But to me, my wife needs to have similar values. Not the same, but similar.
So if you're my friend and you want to spend. By all means spend. Your financial situation does not
affect mine. But if you are my wife, then, no. We need to have similar values, else, I'd rather be alone.
This doesn't mean she doesn't get to buy stuff. There are things which I have let go more, like spending on food, or transport, or travel. (This is called mitigate and compromise.) All these, have increased after we got married, cos I'm ok to accept them. But there are other things which I will not accept. Like luxury bags, shoes, watches, etc.
To me, living as a married couple is about growing together.
Growing as in improving. Not just growing old.
And improving on what? Improving in our own values.
Now, everyone defines their own values. You may have different values from me. That's your choice.
And within our relationship, we also have our own values. And we want to see each other grow in our
own values to become "better" people in our own eyes. Because, we care in our own way.
Other people may think YOLO is the way of life. And maybe in the relationship, that's what it's about.
That's their choice. It doesn't affect me and they are free to enjoy their own life.
To them, they may think that living their life to the fullest is the most important thing and if the other
party is not doing that then they are wasting their lives.
To them, they also care about their partner in their own way.
To me, if we are married, we are one entity. I'm happy if you are happy. I could be less happy personally, but I'm happy to see you succeed. My money is your money. Every dollar you waste is a waste of our
resources for our future, same as if I waste my resources as well. If you like a piece of cake, which I like as well, the person who likes it more gets to eat it. This maximizes the total family utility on that piece
(If she gets 10 points of happiness from that cake but I only get 8 points of happiness, then she eats the cake. How do we know who gets what points... well we know, that's why we are married. Her points
drop when she gets full, so I will get the same piece of cake if she is already full.)
To me... marriage is not about living separate lives together. It's not... you don't disturb me, I don't
disturb you. We live our lives separately, we spend our own money but stay in the same house and just
enjoy each others company together when we are free. (I know people like that.)
If my wife comes back at 10pm, don't expect me to say nothing about that. We both have our own values to how we should treat our working lives as well.
No. Marriage is much more to me than that. (With or without signing the marriage cert)
Marriage (maybe I should have used "being together seriously") is about both of us becoming better
people with each others help.
In the terms of our own values, be it money, religion, how to live our lives, how to raise our kids, how to take care of our parents, how to interact with our friends and family, etc.
Yes, we do talk about and restrict certain friends. So and so is not a good influence on you/us, and you/we should not hang around him/her if possible.
IF we aren't able to discuss all these and come to a good conclusion between the 2 of us, about how weshould grow in our values together, then what's the point of getting married?
So if it's about...
Who am I to tell her what to spend on.
Who am I to tell her what to believe for her religion.
Who am I to tell her how to raise her kids.
Who am I to tell her how to treat her parents / siblings.
Who am I to tell her which friends to hang around with.
Amongst other things...
It's a simple answer. I am her husband, and she married me.
And the thing is, my way/our way is not the only way, you will have your own rules and values as well.
And that's why you are married to whomever you choose and whomever chose you.
In our relationship, we allow each other to have a say in each other's decisions. That's our relationship.
If you think that's fits your style and this post is helpful to you. Then that's great.
Else, you are free to choose whatever style suits your relationship best. Any style is great as long as it strengthens the relationship and both of you can accept it and live well together.
It's not that I don't think about it. I also do think about how much influence we should have on each other's decisions. How much should I be able to control her spending before it is too much, or even IF I should have any say in it at all.
Then I'll flip it around and say, if I cannot have any influence on her spending, then I also should not have any influence on her behavior, how she treats her parents, friends, etc.
If that's the case, then I might as well not get married. But likely, we already have similar values that's why we got married in the first place.
Cos I don't believe in the "you must love me as I am" ideology.
Cos to me, if I love you, I want you to become a better person, and if you love me, then you would want
to become a better person for me as well. Obviously, it works both ways.
Why do we teach our children? Cos we love them and want them to grow up to be good people in future.
And each of us will teach our children in our own way in accordance to our own values.
It's the same as how we treat our relationship with our partners.
I'll put across a few thoughts. Just thoughts.
If your partner gambles often. But always within his means. Expenses are always paid off.
But at the end of the month, all the money is gone. No savings.
Are you in any position to say anything?
If your partner regularly goes out with a "friend" of the opposite sex. Once a week.
Currently you think that is really is just a friend.
Are you entitled to say anything?
Your partner works til 11pm regularly. He just locks himself in the study to work after dinner.
Your partner has an all girls/boys trip. Just a bunch of them going on a trip.
Your partner buys you an expensive watch, $15,000, should you/can you say anything?
Your partner plays online games til late at night. It doesn't affect his work or chores.
He just doesn't sleep at the same time as you.
If there are any bedroom activities, he goes to play games after the activities.
Do you expect your husband to stand up for you against unreasonable in-laws?
Everyone would have answered these differently. I could give a lot more simulations.
All of these are just our differing values. What you think is acceptable or not acceptable is different.
What you can talk to your partner, or should talk to your partner or not, will be different as well.
What you deem is reasonable is different from what I think is reasonable as well.
Certain deeds are deal breakers and certain deeds are absolutely fine.
So to me, marriage, or a serious relationship is about growing and improving together. We got married cos we shared certain values and we accept that we need to keep improving for the benefit of the whole family.
(Improvements are defined by ourselves. Maybe together, we think that being frugal is worth pursuing, maybe YOLO, etc)
And as long as both of us are willing to accept it and both of us are happy with each other's compromise, that's all that's necessary.
If John gambles and does not save, but is still able to provide for the family.
AND Jane is ok with it. I mean really absolutely ok with it. She's not just saying it.
Who is anyone to tell Jane that she should not be ok with it?
Just cos as rational people, we think that if it happened to us, we would not be ok with it?
But we are not Jane, we cannot use our own perception of normal to determine what is suitable for Jane or not.
But I digress...
Essentially, this post is to just highlight my own relationship with my wife and how we grow and improve together. We accept each other's flaws and yet we try to improve each other. We quarrel and we come to a conclusion. Her success is my success, vice versa. As long as we both are happy with the arrangement, that's all that matters.
Everyone's perception of a normal relationship is different and different people want to attain different things in a relationship. And that's all fine, as long as both of you are ok with it.
Note: As I have said at the start of the post, this is my view to our relationship, and we are doing fine with this mantra. If you want to develop your relationship differently, by all means. If you subscribe to the "love me as I am" ideology and believe that you both should not change for your partners, that's fine as well. As long as you both are happy, that's all that matters.
<<PREVIOUS POST // NEXT POST>>