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I would walk 500 miles, but not in your shoes

Thanks to the oddball romantic comedy Benny & Joon, The Proclaimers’ “(I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles” became a radio staple through the mid-1990s. We all know the chorus:

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
To be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

Growing up, I was always told to try – as hard as I could – to put myself in the shoes of others. Especially those who didn’t necessarily see things the way I did. We “put on their shoes” to appreciate that they can have a different perspective – one informed by all their prior experiences – and to remind ourselves that it’s possible, just perhaps, that our view isn’t correct.

Okay, Derek, I’m a huge Johnny Depp fan, but what does all this have to do with money and marriage? you’re probably thinking.

Just this: While we’ll go to great lengths to romance each other – perhaps 500 miles – we typically won’t even walk to the end of the proverbial driveway in our spouse’s shoes.

Have you ever asked your spouse about how he or she was raised regarding money? Do you know of any defining moments in early childhood, the teen years, or just after leaving home that may have influenced their perspective?

Typically newlyweds have a flawed logic: My new husband or wife sees everything the way I see it.

When it comes to money, we figure our spouse affirms spending money where we would affirm spending money, saving money where we would affirm saving money, and making future financial decisions the way we make future financial decisions. And this is how we pave the road to conflict, isn’t it? Because it’s impossible for two people to agree everything – especially money, right?

Three Questions

To cultivate real intimacy over money in your marriage, though, you’re going have to play the get-to-know-you game a little bit. But it’s all good; you’ll learn more about this person you’ve committed your life to.

Here are three questions to help in the effort:

1) What did you learn (either directly or by example) from you parents regarding money, spending, saving, debt, and generosity?

2) What did you learn and/or do (for better or worse) on your own regarding money, spending, saving, debt, and generosity?

3) What have you learned and/or done since getting married regarding money, spending, saving, debt, and generosity?

Give it a whirl and see what it’s like to walk a few miles in your spouse’s shoes. And to help you make financial decisions together, check out the Dreams & Goals worksheet.

1 Comment
  • Joe Woolworth on April 25, 2013

    Some great thoughts on how to discuss money with your spouse and I haven’t thought about Benny and Joon in a long time.

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