“Love is a choice you make from moment to moment.” — Barbara De Angelis

CheckbookIt’s rare that Jeanine and I ever have a serious argument. It’s even more unusual when the squabble is about money. We typically see eye-to-eye on finances and even though our money styles differ, our overall philosophy is the same.

When we first started dating, knowing if we were financially compatible quickly became important to me. Sure, most people can cite a few short-lived romances where it really didn’t matter if the object of desire had credit card debt or bad spending habits. If she offered to buy you a drink, that was the extent of the financial litmus test.

But when you’re considering building a life together, well, money matters. Or more precisely our relationship with money matters.

Jeanine has a healthy and balanced relationship with it. There aren’t any extremes with her. She doesn’t overspend; she pays her bills on time, has excellent credit and at the time was saving for a down payment on her first home. She had some law school debt, but student loans were excusable from my perspective because it gave her a career path and an upside with her earning potential. She was perfect for me.

We communicate well and our money talks were equally candid. She learned that I’m the one riddled with issues. I’m the extremist. I’m categorized as an Amasser and Hoarder. I log into my accounts almost daily to make sure it’s all there. I balance my checkbook every month. Jeanine has to remind me when it’s time to spend money on clothes.

Money offers security and comfort. Buying stuff is secondary. For me personally, it’s never been about keeping up with what others are wearing, driving or doing. So while I dangle at one end of the extreme, Jeanine hovers in the middle with her balanced approached.

Of course, we’re not always in synch but the differences are manageable. We keep our cash accounts separate because her record-keeping methods drive me nuts. She thinks my fear of identity theft and subsequent document shredding is excessive. She leases her car and I buy used. Her threshold for risk is greater than mine. But that said our over arching philosophy is the same: we live within our means, we save, we plan, and we like to buy real estate. Life is good. Live long and prosper, right?

So it came as a surprise when I discovered recently that Jeanine did something with her money without telling me and it threw me into a relationship tizzy. One of her family members asked to borrow what I considered to be a large sum of money. Jeanine told me about it and I indicated that she shouldn’t loan the money. We had a long discussion and I thought we compromised and arrived at an amount that we were both comfortable with. Let’s call it X. After two nights of restless sleep, Jeanine confessed that she went ahead and made the loan for 2X.

I flipped out and was really upset with her. Even though it was her money, I couldn’t believe she didn’t include me and consider me in her final decision. As stated above, our cash is kept separate so yes, it was her money… not mine. But in the big scheme of things… her money is my money and my money is her money… well, isn’t it? That’s what I thought at least until the “bank of Jeanine” opened for business.

I wasn’t trying to control her. In my mind I was just trying to minimize our exposure and risk. Case in point: we’re spending money on making a baby and if the money didn’t get repaid, then I’d have to subsidize Jeanine’s share. So in a way, her loan did affect me.

Well, luckily all turned out fine in the end, as the check arrived today “paid in full.” Hopefully, we’ll communicate better in the future but tonight I’m finally sleeping well.

Read other relationship lessons in our Sleeping With Money series. And of course, we would love to hear your “Big Money Fight” stories and how you resolved them in the comments section below.