I was born into a middle-class income family.
Growing up, I watched how my parents worked hard for our household. They taught me the importance of saving money.
Because of this, I am a frugal person when it comes to spending.
As a working adult, I’d try not to spend more than ten ringgit for my weekday lunch. Even during college, a lunch that was more than five ringgit was expensive for me.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford to spend the money. I’d just carefully choose what I’d wanted to spend on.
You’ll never know when the cash might be useful in the future.
I’d never thought that my husband would have a completely different mindset from me.
My husband was born into an upper-middle class family and had the privilege of studying and working overseas.
He also has a relatively stable income. Hence, he is comfortable splurging on items that I’d never even consider buying.
Take our coffee habits for example: I have always been the ‘Nescafe instant coffee’ girl every morning.
Meanwhile, my partner is a ground coffee type guy. Recently, he bought a Breville expresso machine just so we can have ground coffee every morning.
Did I turn into a nagging wife when I saw the expresso machine? Yes. Did I regret it later? Also yes.
Living with a partner who has a ‘rich’ mindset is somewhat difficult for a frugal person like me.
When we shop together, I look for cheap. He looks for quality.
It has caused many arguments between the both of us.
But over time, my husband and I have learned a few lessons on how to make things work.
Compromise, compromise, compromise
It can’t be said enough: Compromise.
I would often ask my partner; “Why can’t you just be happy with normal instant coffee, like other men?”
His usual response would be, “You can’t put diesel into a sports car, bae.”
What the heck.
In his mind, splurging on small luxuries is a reward for his hard work.
Sometimes, I get so caught up in what I think is right that I forget that my husband might be right too.
Compromising comes with being open-minded, and accepting the opinion of your significant other, regardless of how ridiculous you think it is.
It was hard for me to accept his argument, but I told myself that I should TRY.
And that made a huge difference.
Compromise must go both ways
If your partner has a ‘my way or highway’ mentality, then that’s not right or fair. I wouldn’t have compromised if I was the only one doing it.
When we’d just moved in together, my partner did most of the cooking in the house.
Coming from a western background, he’d only cook western food. Being a typical asian girl, I needed my rice.
So after a month, I’d decided that I’d have enough. I took over the kitchen, and ONLY cooked rice, and curries.
We’d always argue about what to eat, and it was frustrating for the both of us. So we decided to take turns to cook, and that we’d alternate each day to prepare what we’d like.
Compromising in that sense has made both of us satisfied.
I’d sometimes wish that I’d get to eat my type of food every day, but looking at the big picture it is a reasonable price to pay.
Finances are tricky, so don’t get involved in your in-laws’ finances
Another thing with marrying into a family which is ‘richer’ than yours is this: Finances are always a tricky issue.
One of the most apparent things which struck me in my partners household was how much talk there was about finances.
From planning for investments to taxes to properties, the conversations were endless.
I guess it makes sense, you wouldn’t be rich if you had no financial planning.
So, I listened to it all and thought of it as useful information.
One could argue that as a wife, I do have a say in my husband’s finances.
I’d tell him to think twice in investing in new assets. I was worried that the more he spent, the less we would have for ourselves and our future children.
There is a fine line between being concerned and controlling. I may have crossed that line a few times.
But I didn’t like the person that I was becoming. After all, it’s important for me to also trust that my partner is managing his finances well.
Don’t try to change them
We get into relationships thinking that the other person might change.
I mean, it’s not entirely wrong.
My husband and I have changed somewhat since knowing each other.
We’ve adopted each other’s way or life, and eating habits. We’ve also become more tolerant, and patient with each other.
But we change not because we have to, but because we WANT to.
I’ve learnt that changing my partner cannot be forced, it has to come willingly.
I too had to change, because it was so important for our marriage to work.
We recently had to go hunting for a 30 ringgit ‘Pepe Saya’ artisan butter which he “swears tastes better than a normal butter.”
I was tempted to roll my eyes at him, but I’m always reminded of an advice I had from a 70-year old colleague of mine:
“When a man spends on things that he’s passionate about, don’t stop him. Every man needs a hobby, because it makes them excited to live”
What is money worth in a marriage?
I believe that out of all the things to argue about in a marriage, finance is definitely one of the trickiest.
So I always ask myself; is it worth it?
To me, no amount of money can buy the laughter, memories, and love that partners share with each other.
So for the sake of the bigger picture, don’t sweat the small stuff.
For more stories like this, read: My Boyfriend Is the Complete Opposite of Me. Here’s How We Make It Work and Making a Relationship Work for 30 Years; What I Wished I Knew