“We have so much in common! We love the same foods. We both want to travel.” “He even likes my kind of movies!” “She enjoys sports!” “We have so much fun hiking, swimming, and spending time with friends. We have won the relationship lottery for sure!”
Having interests in common is such a blessing. How you wish to spend your time says a lot about who you are; and if you find someone who has the same desires, that is indeed exciting. We need to let loose and have fun. If you can have fun and laugh with the man or woman you love, never take that blessing for granted.
“He gets me.” “She sees the world the same way I do most of the time.” “We share the same thoughts on politics, family matters, and theology. We are both introverted and enjoy reading in front of the fire together. We are logical and steadfast and when one makes a decision, the other almost always understands it. It is wonderful to be with someone who is so similar to me.”
In many ways, finding someone with a similar personality is a blessing. It is easier to communicate with someone who understands you, though you may also struggle with the same faults. There are pros and cons to dating and marrying someone similar to you. Being married to your opposite provides many growth opportunities; but if we are honest, we would rather have peace than continuous character-building experiences. ~smile~
There are different beliefs about the idea of compatibility. Some would consider the compatibility concept to be a myth. The folks in this camp believe any couple can be compatible if they work hard enough.
I hesitate to say compatibility is a non-issue, though I do agree that couples can work through most differences if they are willing to put in the effort. In some cases, however, couples are simply too different; and, though they can enter a marriage, it would be unwise. While marriage does make us grow, we should not enter a union that is sure to keep us in one conflict after another for the purposes of subjected sanctification. No attraction is strong enough to make such a marriage worth the pain.
A few key areas couples should agree on before tying the knot include: religion, children, communication styles, politics, and money.
Our religious beliefs are at the core of who we are, especially if we practice those beliefs faithfully. I could not share my life with someone who wanted to take our family in a different spiritual direction. Children are a huge responsibility and when parents do not see eye-to-eye on how to raise them, problems result. If one wants to communicate through yelling and the other cannot stand it, communication will break down. If one person believes the country should head in one direction and the other opposes, that shows a major difference in worldview (and, possibly, moral beliefs). And, if one person approaches finances one way and the other has a completely different style, look out!
Why Money Compatibility Matters
George is twenty-seven. He has always dreamed of seeing Australia. In fact, he told himself when he was eighteen that he was going to see the gorgeous Australian coastline before he turned thirty. George began putting all his extra money aside for the trip of his dreams. A few years ago, George met Alice. He fell madly in love with her and they got married. Alice is a lovely soul, but she does not believe in planning ahead. “Live for today” is her motto.
As often happens after marriage, George realizes his savings account is dropping due to new expenses. Disheartened, he continues to plan his dream vacation. Alice does not understand the problem. “Let’s just go. We will figure it out. This is a once in a lifetime trip, George. We can charge it and pay it off later. No big deal.”
But, it is a big deal. George is organized with his money and he does not believe in debt. He knows if he charged this vacation he would not enjoy it (either nearly as much or not at all). Alice gets annoyed with this reaction. She thinks, “Can we ever just live for the moment? Do you have to plan everything out? Can you just be spontaneous for once?”
George refuses to give in because his money system has always worked for him in the past (and is likely tied to his personality); whereas, Alice begins to resent the fact that they are saving so much money towards one trip. She would like to take a long weekend to the beach every now and then. She wants to enjoy some gourmet meals and does not see the point in waiting until the money is there.
George sees money as security. He sees it as a measure of success. He believes work comes first and fun comes later. His money management is organized and preplanned.
Alice sees money as a necessary tool, but not something over which to lose sleep. Her financial situations have always worked out in the past and she wishes George would chill out. Her money management style is relaxed and she would rather live today and pay tomorrow than wait for her desired experiences.
They both make good points. We do need to save. We do need to have fun occasionally. The battle is between their financial goals. George and Alice are not on the same page with money. They do not see the financial world through the same lenses. Some would say they are not financially compatible. They simply want different lifestyles and manage money in completely different ways.
Can We Overcome our Financial Differences?
Financial compatibility can be gained if couples are willing to compromise, but it is not easy. It takes determination to decide on a financial plan, commit to the plan, and remain true to the plan. At times, couples will argue and want to say “Forget it! I am going back to my old way!” But, if they honor the deal they make together and agree before making any changes to the plan, they can succeed. (Once they agree to the plan, it is a matter of personal integrity in following the plan.)
This is where a couple needs to be honest with themselves and each other:
- Are we willing to change our way of life in this area?
- Are you willing to save money when you would rather spend?
- Are you willing to budget some money for fun instead of putting every penny into savings?
- Will you stick to a plan even though your personality struggles with follow-through?
- Can you back off and let me help you create the budget or will you fight tooth and nail for control? Will we both have an equal voice in the budget?
- What if we are financially tight and our daughter needs a dress for her first dance?
If it is clear you and your sweetie cannot come to a financial understanding, please do not get married. Financial problems cause so much marital discord. It is hard to be peacefully married when financial pressure is bearing down and triggering constant conflict.
It is easy to say you will change your financial ways, but money beliefs and habits are ingrained in us. Eric and I came from homes which handled money similarly, so it was not a huge adjustment when we got married. Before getting engaged, watch your sweetie’s money management. Take mental notes. Compare to your own. Then discuss and be real. Talk about concerns you have and discuss resolutions; but, do not agree to get married until you are comfortable with where your relationship is heading financially. Anyone can make a few good, short-term decisions, but it takes discipline to make them consistently.
How we approach finances also provides a window into our character as money highlights our priorities. Are you comforted by what your loved one’s financial decisions say about his or her character?
Make a List
Before you are faced with the decision of whether or not to marry your sweetie, make a list of your financial goals and your financial must haves. For example:
- I am determined to be debt free.
- I am determined to have a yearly vacation.
Make this list with as little outside influence as possible. Ask your boyfriend or girlfriend to do the same and then discuss your lists. Find what you have in common and build on those. Then, look at your differences and decide if you are willing and able to work through them.
Eric and I, for the most part, have enjoyed financial compatibility in our marriage and it has been a tremendous blessing. We want the same for you!
Are you and your sweetie financially compatible? [Comment below!]