Handling Tough Questions and Differences in Marriage

Heidi (my wife of over 12 years now) and I had a discussion for almost 2 hours last night. We talked about some deep and personal things related to our own personal beliefs and how our money should be spent. To me, these are important topics to continually talk about to keep a marriage going stronger.

What to Do With Money?

One of the discussion points was what to do with our money. We’re currently investing and saving 20% of our after tax income (along with maxing out our 401K). My opinion is that I’d love to save/invest 30% of our income. I think Heidi wouldn’t mind if that were 10%. I’ve found that a happy medium is 20% of after tax income and that seems to be working well so far.

Finances could be a point of friction in our marriage. I can see why finances might be a problem for married couples as differences of opinion about them might cause frustration. Generally I see in marriages one partner who likes to spend and another partner who is either very frugal or doesn’t care one way or the other.

Heidi and I both believe in being Frugal, but also are willing to spend our money on nice things as we see fit. I’m a little more on the invest/be frugal side than she is. But I don’t believe that should be the law in our home – compromise is what makes a marriage work. So last night, I talked to Heidi and combined both our points of views on our finances. Right now that compromise is 20% of our income is saved and invested.

I continue to desire to talk to Heidi and understand her feelings about our money situation. It’s something that requires constant attention – it would be so easy to both close off spending or to just spend like we won the lottery. To me, our finances are like a ship sailing at sea – we must constantly adjust our course and make sure we are on a path to a safe destination.

Should We Buy a New House?

Another interesting topic that Heidi brought up a few days ago and that we talked about last night was a house that is up for sale. We walked through it with our children and it is bigger, nicer, more open, and in an even better neighborhood than ours. The asking price is also $150,000 more than what our house is listed for on Zillow.com.

My first reaction is, “Holy Cow, that is expensive!” And if that is all I brought to the table, that would not be a very unified or compromising marriage. So in sitting down with Heidi, I said here are some of my thoughts, but let’s talk about what makes this interesting for you. Let’s hear your perspective.

As she shared all the things she liked about the house, I realized it did have some good points to it that I liked as well. In the end, we worked a comprimise that if we could get the house for a lower value, we could move. I told her there is enough there that we could make it work. We both gave and took in the situation. I said the price would have to be lower, but didn’t reject the idea completely.

What are Our Spiritual Beliefs?

Another area Heidi and I differ in is our spiritual beliefs. More recently, I’ve formed more opinions about spirituality and what I think the nature of reality is. Before this, I was your average every day Mormon just trying to be good and go through life. And that is what I was when Heidi married me. So a big change in the dynamic of our relationship is I have different view points than just a Mormon who believes everything the church teaches.

My belief after research from many angles and view points is that the Mormon church formed like any organization here on Earth – a person took ideas from existing material to create a cause they believed in and that organization has continued to be edited and refined over time like any book trying to be improved. I don’t believe it is a divine organization as is stated in its official doctrines for reasons I won’t go into here.

That doesn’t mean I shun the organization. It doesn’t mean I stop going to church even. My wife still very much so believes in it. And for our marriage to continue to flourish as it has been requires that I acknowledge her point of view as an important part of our marriage dynamic and that I value her thoughts and opinions regarding it – even if I have disagreements with the underlying foundation.

Can Differences of Opinion Work In Marriage?

Heidi and I have a few big differences of opinion and belief in our marriage, most notably about religion. We also have a smaller disagreement about how we should allocate our money. I think this dynamic is very healthy actually. There is no one ruling view point in our family. We get both sides of the coin, which I think is great.

I heard a great man once talk about what makes an Eagle soar and he related it to politics. An Eagle soars because it has both a Left Wing and a Right Wing. It is allowing the multiple opinions that opens up a more interesting and complex dynamic. I believe it broadens our understanding of issues and helps us advance better as a species – even with all the disagreement it brings.

I think differences of opinion in a marriage are healthy. Where two people always agree, there is a limit in the ability to see outside and improve in ways that otherwise might not be possible without seeing another view point. For Heidi and I, I always respect and value her view points and opinions and what she shares is an important dynamic in our marriage in the both of us growing as human beings and providing a better life for our children.

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4 thoughts on “Handling Tough Questions and Differences in Marriage

  1. Great article, Jeremy! I’m not married, but I’m currently in a relationship where we have some major cultural and religious differences … but I do feel like, despite that, we (mostly) have similar values.

    I often wonder how things would turn out if we were to become more serious. So reading that differences can be overcome if both people are willing is encouraging.

    1. Val, I never would have envisioned the major differences Heidi and I have now when we were first dating to the change where we’re at now. I think the only reason it works is both of us being accepting of them and playing off the strength of each others differences in opinion/belief :)

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