It’s hard to ensure you are managing your money in a responsible way that is aligned to your goals and values… add in a spouse with differing priorities and it can feel almost impossible.
Most couples naturally have different viewpoints on money, even if they agree how to spend it. For example (using gross generalizations) often one spouse is a saver, one is a spender. This is actually a good thing… because you balance each other out.
This push-pull of couples and money is always on my mind so when I recently read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, it got me thinking about the connection between your love language and your budget.
Yep, that’s what I do. I pick up a book about couples and make it about money. : )
While learning more about the love languages, I realized that some of the love languages required a monetary investment in order to be successful, like gift giving. If gift giving doesn’t matter to you but it matters to your spouse, there could be conflict there. Sure, gift giving isn’t a core piece of any budget, but if it is your spouse’s love language it could be a critical component of a happy marriage.
And since divorce is yucky… and expensive… mindfully incorporating the needs of your spouse into the budget is more than worth the cost.
So, let’s take a look at each of the 5 love languages and how to incorporate each into your budget.
Love Language #1 Words of affirmation
This is an easy one to start off with because words… are free! Yeah for you and your budget! But you can also get creative with this one too… a written card might feel like a waste of $5 to you, but it’s well worth it if this is your spouse’s love language.
Budget tip: Don’t let words of affirmation fall through the budget crack. For example, let the numbers that ARE in the budget guide your words of affirmation. Spouse budgeted new clothes…let them know how great they look in them. Spouse got all the summer activities paid for… tell them you appreciate it.
Love Language #2 Quality Time
Spending quality time together CAN be free, but I’m guessing at some point you’re going to want to actually go do something together. And you should!
Budget tip: Create a category in the budget specifically for quality time. Then you can assign a dollar amount to work within each month. No need to go crazy here. Keep a list of low cost local events, restaurants or activities that would be fun to do with your spouse.
Bonus tip! You can also do this for kids… take the time when you are feeling creative and motivated to find all the local parks or places you want to visit with your kids, the cheapest times to visit, when they are open, etc. Then you have a ready-made list when the time comes and won’t end up overspending on activities.
Love Language #3 Receiving Gifts
The most pricey love language of them all. This is the category that can create the most budget conflict, but it doesn’t have to. If gifts are a priority for one spouse, but not the other, remember that you are going to have to meet in the middle on this one!
Budget tip: Set up more detailed gift giving categories than you normally would in your budget. Pay special attention to plan ahead and budget appropriately for birthdays and other gift giving holidays. Also add a category for ‘on a whim’ gifts that can be fun surprises for your spouse. Having this built into the budget, within reason, will allow those with this love language to flourish.
Love Language #4 Acts of Service
Acts of Service could look like doing all the laundry or taking the kids out for an afternoon. If acts of service is your spouse’s love language you are going to have to ask them specifically what would help them out the most. Most acts of service are going to cost you time or energy if they are work based, but consider the monetary aspect of this too. For example, if taking the kids for the afternoon is your spouse’s promised land, consider doing that on a regular basis and adding a specific budget category for the things you do on those afternoons out.
Budget Tip: When you find out what your spouse’s ideal acts of service are, consider the monetary side effect and account for that in the budget. Maybe you work a couple less hours to be home during the dinner rush, maybe work those extra hours and hire a housecleaner! Whatever it is for you, use your budget to help make it happen.
Love Language #5 Physical Touch
Our final love language is budget friendly! But just like affirmations love language, consider how to make this happen with your spouse. Does it tie into quality time or maybe just time alone? (Hello, babysitter cost!)
Once you have created specific categories to consider your love languages, reviewing your numbers and considering how well you have utilized those categories is critical! If you want to focus on your Date Night category and it’s blank at the end of the month… that might be good for your budget but it’s not good for your life.
The best budgets give you numbers, yes, but they also give insight into your patterns and behaviors. It can be a great place to check up on yourself for the things that you are doing, or not doing throughout the month. Often, the numbers that AREN’T there say as much as the numbers that are.
Incorporating the love languages into your budget helps add another layer of information for you to talk through. The numbers tell your story, what are they saying about your marriage?
If you have no idea what your love language is, I highly recommend taking the quiz here or picking up the book to find out. You might think you know your love language, but you might be surprised to find that your answers tell a different story.