One of the first things that struck me about my partner was his generosity. It started on our second date when he brought three cupcakes to my apartment — one for me, one for him, and one for my roommate. I mean seriously, who considers getting in with the roommate that early on? Throughout our relationship, my husband has been very generous with his money, his time, and his attention. In our marriage, I have seen it through his willingness to support my ambitious dreams even if that means spending nights alone, picking up the slack around the house, investing some of our shared income, or being the instigator in our social relationships.
Generosity — financial or otherwise —that’s tailored to our partner’s unique needs and personality is key to keeping each other interested, engaged, and “in love” over the long-term. Want to be a more generous partner? Here are a few tips:
1. Start With You: You might be thinking, “Gosh, I wish my partner would be more generous.” Instead of pointing the finger at your partner (or not-so-subtly forwarding them this post), take the time to look inward. Ask yourself: How can I be more generous in our relationship? What’s holding me back? Remember: Generosity is contagious.
Tip: It is possible to give too much to a relationship. Know your limits and be sure that you are caring for yourself along the way. This isn’t about forgoing your own needs for the sake of your partner. It’s about finding small ways to honor your partner each day.
2. Make Decisions Together: One of the cornerstones of our marriage is that my husband and I make most decisions together. For instance, a few weeks ago my husband was offered a new role at work. Before giving his boss an answer, he took a day to think about it and discuss it with me. Similarly, when I’m asked to speak or travel, I always check in with him to make sure the date works for both of us, and he serves as my accountability partner to make sure I’m not overwhelming myself — as I often do.
Tip: Bringing your partner in on larger decisions, even if they only pertain to you, reminds your partner that you value his/her perspective and that you’re a team. It also can help the two of you stay on the same page as you learn, grow, and reach for bigger dreams.
3. Treat Your Partner: My husband loves surprises! So I try to surprise him occasionally with something I know he’ll enjoy — the more unexpected, the better.
Tip: Get to know your partner’s love language. They may appreciate an intangible gift like raking the leaves, putting a kind note in their lunch box, or a back rub before bed much more than something tangible.
4. Champion Each Other’s Goals: You and your partner are not going to share every goal, and that’s ok. But you can coach from the sidelines by encouraging your partner, giving them a bird’s eye view, and helping them address critical questions. Take the time to talk through your partner’s goals and really listen to them. Be their best supporter.
Tip: I often have to remind myself that a major part of being in a marriage is knowing your role. I am my husband’s wife and best friend. I am not his business coach, boss, pastor, therapist, or anything else. I may not be able to help him solve all of his problems on the way to his goal, but I can walk beside him as he does.
5. Respect Each Other’s Values: Similarly, you aren’t going to share every value. Even if you share similar values, your top ones may not be the same. For my husband, independence is a core value; for me, relationships are a core value. While those two values can work together, they sometimes work against each other. We’ve had to be intentional about honoring our differences as well as our similarities. As you look at your joint financial life, make sure both of your values are represented.
Tip: Use this free activity to help you both identify your top values. Then share them with one another. How are they the same? How are they different? How does the way you use money as individuals and as a couple reflect these values?
6. Cultivate Financial Independence: Just because you are married doesn’t mean you need to share everything! Whether it’s creating separate pockets of money for your individual priorities or creating a little more space in your shared budget, it’s important that marriage doesn’t clip your or your partner’s wings.
Tip: Check out this blog article on “yours, mine, and ours funds” to learn more about setting up shared and independent accounts.
7. Give Your Partner Some Space: Often we go into marriage with high expectations ... but people and situations can change, and not always for the better. If your partner is struggling, remember that you it’s not your job to “fix your spouse.” But you can help them find the support they need.
Tip: Money spent on personal development is rarely wasted. Encourage your partner to find resources that will help them grow, whether that’s a business coach, a counselor, a new degree, or something else entirely.
8. Make Date Night a Priority: The best marriage advice I’ve ever received is to set aside time each week to really focus on your partner. Be sure to put away your phone and quiet your mind so you can listen without having a sidebar conversation about another topic in your head.
Tip: One of the best ways I’ve found to make sure I’m focused at date night is to meditate for a few minutes on my bus ride home from work. This helps me leave the day’s stressors behind so I can be fully present at home.
Looking for ways to really tune in to your partner and your money? Join my Date Night Club. Together, we’ll lay a solid financial foundation, find honest ways to talk about money, begin reaching your biggest goals, and explore ways to be more generous to one another and the world.
What little (or big) ways have you found to be more generous to your partner? Share below!