Part 3: The Marriage = Financial Freedom
As mentioned in Parts 1 & 2, the First Comes Love, Then Comes Finances, 3 part series explores love and the importance of finances.
At times, it seems as if people are more interested in the outward appearances of marriage as opposed to the "health" of the relationship. A wedding is a one-day event, and many couples find themselves in significant debt due to wanting to please or personify a certain status. It is important that your focus is not consumed with the wedding because you can potentially make a lot of selfish decisions that can affect the relationship's long term health. It is important to keep things in perspective because once the day(s) of celebration is over it is just you and your partner that have to navigate these new waters.
Now that you are married, the "real" work begins. Many couples are shocked to find that marriage is not an easy feat, but that it requires continuous, conscientious effort to do right by your spouse. If not prepared, one can be shocked to know that sacrifice and compromise is required of both partners, and there's no such thing as "me" and "I" anymore.
Once the newness of the marriage begins to fade, some couples tend to find themselves bored, confused, stagnant, or unfilled in the relationship. I have heard on countless occasions that some feel that they have lost the vibrancy and carefree atmosphere that made them want to marry their spouse. It is imperative that you continue to make time for your love, because life can become hectic and your partner can easily feel pushed to the wayside. Children, career changes, relocations, friendships, personal hobbies, etc. are wonderful and exciting additions to marriage but they can also strain them if they are not coupled with open and honest communication, respect, understanding, support, and consistency in other areas of the relationship. The two of you have to keep a love triangle that consists of each of you and God, so that no matter what the closer you grow to one you are also growing closer to the other.
There are many budget-friendly ways that couples can continue to show their love and appreciation for one another. It is crucial to assess your personal financial situation and work within it; however, pure intentions and genuine love can make a $5 gift have a value that exceeds $500! There should be no constant need to break the bank, cause strain on your finances to impress your spouse or borrow money to make pricey temporary purchases.
***Note: You do not have to limit yourself to just date nights, you can take an entire day together, go away on the weekend, take full advantage of your mornings/afternoon, and so forth!***
Budget-Friendly Date Ideas:
Hire a babysitter/ utilize family & friends for a few hours to have some uninterrupted, alone time
Buy your partner's favorite candy, flowers, jewelry, designer item(s), etc., and surprise them with it
Dance together, watch a movie together, find a favorite tv show, workout together, go to a museum or any other activity that requires involvement from the both of you
Cook dinner together
Take a day trip to a destination a few hours away and explore
Help out with household chores [dishes, sweeping/mopping, dusting, washing clothes, and so forth]
Go to your favorite restaurant; if you do not have one, now is the time to find one together
Make time for romance [buy lingerie, do a candlelit bubble bath, give each other a massage]
Go wine tasting, attend a painting class, go to a sporting event, go to an adult arcade (i.e., Dave & Buster's) or something else that will get your adrenaline pumping
Whatever you decide to do make sure both of your interests are being represented. Also, do not be afraid to have a variety in the type of activities that you enjoy and it is okay to have some spontaneity.
Similar to marriage, financial freedom is a lifelong journey of making wise decisions, together.
So what does it mean to be financially free? According to Dave Ramsey, "financial freedom means that you get to make life decisions without being overly stressed about the financial impact because you are prepared. You control your finances instead of being controlled by them." This is no easy task to embark on, especially since you will have to change old habits, alter your way of thinking, deprive yourself of some immediate pleasures, but the outcome will definitely be a great long term reward.
Benefits of being financially free:
You can purchase big-ticket items without putting yourself in debt (refrain from financing on credit)
You have the freedom to take trips (domestic and international)
You can leave a job/ career that no longer satisfies you or that mistreats you
You can retire early
You can start and/or expand your own business
You can give to charitable causes
You are setting up good financial habits for your children, grandchildren, other relatives
You are no longer confined to living paycheck to paycheck
You can grow your family without worrying about how you will provide for them
You have a positive net worth
The Bible tells us in Exodus 13:21, "the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night (NIV)." We are not alone in this journey through life, and God allowed us to have an earthly partner that should serve as additional support. We need only to seek His guidance and obey; He has already directed our paths we just need to stay on course.
Thank you for completing the series; here's to a lifetime of love, happiness, and being financially free!
***Let's keep the dialogue going; please leave feedback, questions, comments, and some topics that you will like to see discussed on the blog. Thank you!***