Anniversaries, like birthdays, tend to make one nostalgic. Today, Jon and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. We got married on a lovely early fall day in Valle Crucis, NC, surrounded by friends and family.
Since then, Jon and I have done a lot of things together. We’ve moved twice, had a kid, each changed careers, and learned to cook WAY better. We’ve various adventures and surfed, swam, sailed, and snorkeled. And since life isn’t always an adventure, we’ve also vegged in front of the TV, built a fire pit, planted trees and cleaned house.
Marriage is both a learning experience and a compromise, and for most of us brings a lot of personal and mental changes. Looking back, I can see how we’ve both changed each other.
Jon’s lived with more tech in the last 10 years. He’s become more comfortable with online bill paying, smart phones, and internet shopping. I think he eats healthier (or at least more fruits and vegetables and less ramen noodles.) He is at least slightly more willing to get rid of things he no longer needs.
He’s changed, but I’ve changed more. In 10 years of marriage, I think I’ve changed for the better, not least in my spending habits and money management.
Saving Money Without Sacrifice
One of the first money lessons I learned from Jon was that any time you can save money without sacrificing anything, you’ve freed up money to do the things you want to do.
On our first Valentine’s Day together, Jon gave me a programmable thermostat.
I was completely bewildered by the sheer romance of this gift. My reaction: “Ummm, thanks?”
Jon tried to convince me that a programmable thermostat was actually a very romantic gift. It would save money that we could use to go out to dinner, travel, or save for the future. And we wouldn’t have to do anything different except keep the house a little less comfortable when we weren’t there.
He wasn’t trying to give me one romantic evening, he explained. He was trying to give me several.
Since then, Jon’s convinced me to try numerous small alterations in life that haven’t changed our lifestyle. His DIY projects save us considerable cash, allowing us to do other things.
He has convinced me, and now looking for easy savings is a habit. I’ve even done a few of my own projects, reducing our food waste and cutting our cable to the minimum. Every time we can make a substitution, cut back an expense, or give up something without impacting our quality of life gives us that much more to spend on things that will add to it.
I have more extravagant tastes than Jon. My family traditions include big Christmases, fancy vacations, and nice dinners out.
Jon’s family did camp outs, homemade Chinese dinners and second-run movies. Over the years, I’ve done a lot more laid back relaxed celebrations and diversions, and I’ve found them every bit as effective and enjoyable as the more expensive ones.
I was a bit of a snob, and Jon’s helped me get over that.
Life doesn’t have to be fancy to be good. More expensive or more elaborate aren’t always better. While I still want to pay for quality, I now do a much better evaluation of whether I’m getting the premium I expect when I spend a bit more.
Without Jon spurring my interest, I would never have started this blog.
When Jon and I got married, I had spent most of my work life with one small highly idiosyncratic used book store company. I had no idea how most businesses worked. I invested and saved some money, but I just knew the basics.
Jon called himself an “occupational tourist.” He’d worked in multiple roles for different companies and had an MBA. He was working on his securities license. He was a lot more savvy about jobs, businesses and money.
Where I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Project Runway, Jon watched business news for entertainment.
Soon I paid attention to business news, too. Then, knowing I wanted more from my career than the book stores could offer, I went for my own MBA.
Before Jon, I didn’t talk too much about money. With Jon, I talked about money or business on a daily basis. I read more. I paid attention. I became a lot more savvy.
Most importantly, I became a lot more curious. Money was interesting, and I had a lot more to learn.
I Can’t Do Everything
Jon and I were both older when we married, and I had gotten used to doing things by myself, for myself.
Some things were easy to release to Jon. When he wanted to mow the lawn or take care of the cars, I didn’t quibble. I knew his handyman skills were more advanced than mine.
Letting him take care of Little Bit’s college fund? I found that more difficult, but just as important. I didn’t distrust his abilities. I just had trouble letting go control. I wanted to make sure our daughter had money set aside for her future.
So did he.
I had to accept that as part of a couple, I’d have to sometimes let him make decisions for us. I had to trust they would be the right ones. Jon would make good decisions, even if they weren’t the same ones I’d make.
I still find it difficult to let someone else drive
my our finances, even if I know I can easily grab the wheel as needed. But I find that the more I practice sharing control, the more I’m able to let go in other areas and the less stress I feel.
10 Years of Marriage
So thanks, Jon. Thanks for 10 years of marriage. Thanks for your goofy dad jokes, mad maintenance man skills, endless patience, and frugal nature. Here’s to many more years of camp fire conversations exploring the world and coparenting.
What lessons have you learned from your money marriages/relationships? How have they made you a better person?