Finances and Our Long Distance Marriage

by James & Miel on November 6, 2007 · 0 comments

If you’ve been reading our blog you know that my wife Miel and I have a long distance marriage.
I’m living in greater Washington DC, and Miel is doing international development in Afghanistan. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult to have a marriage in the traditional sense. Its also challenging because the day to day stuff that makes up so much of the financial aspects of being married have changed also. After thinking about it

1) The internet makes communication easy. I can’t underscore this enough. Web programs like skype and email have fundamentally changed communication. Its possible to sit down and talk using voice over IP, as if the person were in the same room with you. If a situation comes up and Miel and I need to chat, we can simply go to the computer, log into skype and discuss it. – All of this is without charge. So, when seamless costless internet communications are available, its easy to stay connected. Practically, this means its feasable to finance goals and work together to follow up on them.

2) Greater distance means less conflict about small stuff. Because we’re on different continents, we don’t spend as much time around each other. So, we’re not as aware of each other spending habits. For example, Miel doesn’t like it when I spend money on taxis or junk food. I always harp on her when she spends cash on furniture, and dishes. Since we aren’t constantly monitoring each others spending habits we don’t conflict about these smaller things as much. Its a mixed blessing. The day to day interactions are whats wonderful about marriage, but I’m sure that neither of us miss the nagging.

3) Greater distances mean joint goals are more important. Since being apart means we focus less on smaller stuff, working on joint goals has become more prominent in our discussions about money. For example, we’ve set the goal of paying off our home equity line of credit, and are both throwing cash at the balance.

Just as a side note here – one thing about our marriage is that we’ve mostly approached it as a partnership between equals. We’ve maintained separate accounts and have set joint goals – as opposed to pooling our money or having one person set the financial decisions. It seems like this arrangement is working well. Since this separation is really the first major test of our marriage, its heartening to see that how we’ve got things set up working.

Best,

James

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