"In all my years of practice," says Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill, author of A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage, "I have only ever seen two or three couples where both partners have viewed money exactly the same. When I come across a couple like that, I am totally shocked." The root of the conflict is sometimes the expected "He spends too much" (or "She spends too much") argument. But more often that not it's also the difference between what we admire and accept about our partners and what that approval costs without our knowledge. For example, a husband may have a commitment to locally sourced food. The wife may be in complete agreement—because locally sourced food is good for the environment—that is, until she sees the price tag on the teeny-tiny package of three measly pork sausages: $14! At which point she goes berserk. Another common version: A man adores his partner's goldeny, tawny-ish, honey-dazzled hair, only to realize, too late, that blond highlights cost $150, every three months.
The key to moving past this conflict is, admittedly, boring and also known as: Drawing Up a Budget Together. But the accounting allows each of you to understand why you're spending what you're spending, eliminating any discrepancies between what you love about your partner and what you love about not being broke.