Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The many tests of marriage

Sometimes, younger unmarried women will ask me for relationship advice. I have been married to the love of my life for almost seven years, and we were together for 12 years before we got married. And so I am very honest when I talk about the tests of love.

There are lots of big things that will test love: job loss, infidelity, long-distance, difficult family members. But the important tests are ones that you can put yourself through long before you get to the altar. Tests like:
  1. Go shopping together. Preferably at a store like Ikea where you are forced to spend hours together in a giant maze looking at furniture and having discussions around the type of home you'd like to have together.
  2. Move together. You don't have to move in together, you just have to go through the stress of packing up all your belongings, getting a truck, schlepping all your stuff across town and then unpacking it all without losing your temper at the other person who helps you every step of the way. Bonus points for moving in any sort of extreme weather: Snow, rain, crazy heat, hurricane.
  3. Take care of your partner when they are sick. Really sick - beyond a cold. Make sure that you can tolerate their level of helplessness and still love them when they get better.
  4. Talk about money.
That last one is a big one, because money is still sort of a taboo topic these days. How much you make, how in debt you are, what kind of decisions you make about your money - all those topics need to be understood by both parties before taking a relationship to the next level.

And yet, so few of us do that. A recent study released by TD Bank discovered that most couples still fall into traditional gender roles with men taking the lead in family finances.

I get it - money is hard to talk about. At a time when recent graduates still have crippling debt and low job prospects, it is hard to talk to your loved one about what is in your bank account. But, if you ever want to be able to talk to your children about money, you need to make sure you are on the same page as your spouse.

Who takes the lead in managing your family finances? Let me know in the comments.


  1. We divide it up. We were both in our 30s when we got married, so we decided from the get-go that we each would keep handling any debts we brought into the marriage, then divided up household bills. Over time, we've realized we need to keep each other up to date on where things stand, so for the last couple of years, we've set aside time each month to discuss the bills.

  2. Nice, C.B.! It's like you have a monthly money date!