They say it takes a village to raise a child. That may be the case, but it takes a lot of solid, stable marriages to create a village.

- Diane Sollee,

Money in Marriage/Relationships

I Need a Vacation…or a Divorce

[frame align=”left]Money in Marriage[/frame]

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Good money advice is as priceless as it is timeless. The same can be said of good relationship advice, and for most couples, good money management and a solid marriage go hand in hand. Meet the Hansens, a couple whose competing financial philosophies are pushing their relationship to the breaking point.

At first, life was a storybook for Diane and Adam Hansen; with two incomes and few responsibilities, the couple took trips to exotic locations, dined at romantic restaurants, and put on a lavish wedding ceremony. Now, ten years later, they have three great kids and a lovely home, but tension fills Diane and Adam’s lives and even the smallest discussion turns into an argument.

The couple’s priorities have diverged. Adam is focused on saving for retirement, the kids’ college, and building a sizable emergency fund. Diane misses elements of their early days. While she wants to help the kids pay for college and believes in saving for a comfortable retirement, she misses the travel and feels the family would benefit from some shared experiences.

Adam handles the family’s finances and he tries to save as much money as possible each month. He encourages the family to cut out the extras, but doesn’t want his children to go without. Diane never knows what Adam will consider an extra. Adam bought a new digital camera, but became upset when Diane suggested the money could have been used for airfare or hotel.

Diane believes their lives need more balance. “The way Adam sees it, vacations are expensive and frivolous,” Diane says. “I don’t think I should have to beg him to take the family on vacations. I want us to see the world and explore new places.”

Adam agrees family experiences are important, but doesn’t believe he and Diane can save enough and also take “expensive” vacations. “Diane doesn’t want to admit that we’re no longer 30 and worry-free,” Adam says. “Of course she thinks I’m the bad guy. But I’m doing what I think is best for this family in the long run.”

Voyant asked Judith Sloan-Price, a marriage therapist in Austin, Texas, to provide some perspective.

“Money is a weapon of power and people in healthy marriages do not use it to control their partner,” Sloan-Price said. “Currently, Adam is controlling his family’s money and controlling Diane in the process. Saving as much as possible each month is not a financial plan. Instead of hoarding money for undefined objectives and living in fear of over-spending, the couple needs to act as a financial partnership. This means each spouse has input in deciding what the savings priorities are and how much to dedicate to each goal on a monthly basis. Family vacations should definitely be part of that budget. With this discussion, they can create a plan that secures the family’s future without forgoing happiness in the present.”

“Marriage and a good financial plan share something important in common: both require small and steady investments over time that eventually build a solid foundation. Vacation memories are solid investments: they hold couples and families together. It’s ironic: we’ll spend $1,000 at holidays for gifts, but not set aside $100 a month for a vacation fund because ‘it’s too expensive.’

“Vacations don’t have to be extravagant. For example, a three day retreat for the family will do more to secure the marriage than overspending on a vacation they cannot really afford. Adam is wise to save for the future, but Adam’s marriage might not make it to the college graduations or retirement if he doesn’t invest in his relationship now. Divorce would be far more expensive for Adam, financially and emotionally, than understanding Diane’s needs and taking vacations regularly.

“Since Adam likes to save, he should start saving regularly in a vacation fund. If the family is making a combined income of $215,000, they can afford to set aside a small portion of that amount each month for a vacation. Start out with $100 a month. Most likely, Adam will support Diane making this monthly amount higher once he experiences the payoff.”

Judith Sloan-Price, LCSW, is a marriage counselor in Austin, TX

This article is reprinted with permission from Voyant, Inc. Click here to read the article on Voyant’s website.

About Voyant

Voyant software simplifies financial planning processes for mainstream consumers. Using interactive planning tools, flexible scenarios and comprehensive reporting, Voyant solutions help users understand the impact of life-changing planning decisions, and encourage ongoing collaboration and dialogue between financial experts and their clients. Voyant, which was spun out of Gossamer Group in 2006, is headquartered in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit

Judith Sloan-Price, LCSW

Judith Sloan-Price, Austin LCSW
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