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    I’m Plus-Size—Here’s Everything That Goes Through My Head While Having Sex

    Whenever I think about my identity, one of the characteristics that always pop up first is “plus-size.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing—I’m used to describing myself as such when looking for clothes, posting on Instagram, or talking about body positivity. I’m so used to being a plus-size woman, it’s become engrained in my daily routines and conversations. The only time I do cringe about being plus-size? When I’m talking about having sex.Society has come pretty far in terms of the body positivity movement, which, believe me, I’m grateful for. Women are more empowered, fat bodies are being normalized, the fashion industry is finally catching up with extended sizing options and plus-size clothing lines. But when it comes to sex, I feel like those “taboo” lights start flashing in everyone’s heads and the conversation becomes a minefield of sidestepping judgmental comments and potential hurt feelings. Sex can already be a tricky topic to navigate, but add in a body type deemed “less-than-desirable?” Yeah, it’s a recipe for discomfort.
    But despite it being uncomfortable to talk about, it still needs to be. I’m not going to get up on my soapbox and demand that all conversations about sex need to include fat bodies (hello, I’m an introvert), but sometimes I feel like a second-class citizen whenever I bring up my own experiences. Could that be completely based on my own self-confidence and body image issues? Absolutely. But that’s probably just more reason I need to do it more often. If there’s anything going to therapy for five years has taught me, it’s exposure therapy rarely fails. The more I talk about my own sexual experiences, the more comfortable I’ll be, the more confidence I’ll have, and, hopefully, the better the sex will be. And what better way to do it than to share my unfiltered thoughts?

    First things first: I’m not comfortable with my body, but what does my partner think of it?
    With all the guys I’ve dated, I’m usually one of the biggest women they’ve had sex with. (Not that I’ve collected data on this—God, could you imagine?! He’s mid-thrust, and I’m like, “So, have you slept with anyone else who’s fat?” Real nice.) So, I’m automatically going to compare myself to the other women my partners have slept with.
    I have big thighs, flabby arms, and I carry a lot of weight in my belly. (I also have a fairly big butt, but that’s never really been a concern.) Usually, when I match with a guy on a dating app (as many of my experiences go), I post several photos of my entire body. And unfortunately, this is a direct response to an evening where I did meet up for a date with a guy and he left after half an hour because I looked different than my photos and he just “wasn’t attracted to me.” So after that charming memory, you bet I make sure I look identical to my photos. But even with that insurance of “OK, he knows what I look like and he finds me attractive,” I still never know what my partner’s initial reaction will be when we start having sex. Or how he’ll navigate my body.

    For the love of God, don’t make me get on top
    I am aware of my weight 24/7: putting on clothes, going on planes, sitting down at a restaurant, etc. So, why would having sex be any different? As much as I’d like to, I can’t just shut off my brain and lose myself to the throes of passion. (Kudos to anyone who can do that though—tips are welcome!) Sex is so not like romantic comedies where everything is easy and passionate and women have freakish pretzel bodies that can bend into every trendy position. I also worry about hurting my partner. Simply because I am a bigger woman with a bigger body, I want to be considerate of my partner and how comfortable they are in certain positions.
    Another thing romantic comedies forget to mention? Stamina. My preferred exercise is walking, sometimes swimming. Executing a perfect reverse cowgirl is not a form of cardio that my core can easily withstand. So, I dread the times when my partner asks me to get on top. Marathon breathing techniques and worrying about my knees don’t exactly inspire lust in me. I’d much rather be in a position that I know works for me and lets me get out of my head and enjoy the experience.

    Bring on the vibe
    Listen, I’m happy for everyone who can orgasm without the aid of vibrators or toys—I’m just not one of them. Being a bigger woman, there’s simply more of me, which means more skin and body to navigate when I’m having sex. I have what is called a FUPA (fat upper pubic area), or “panniculus,” if you want the medical term for it. I’ve come to terms with my FUPA (Queen Bey has one, so we’re basically the same person), and being with my body all the time, I’ve figured out how to work with it and work around it when I’m engaging in a little self-love. But if my partner isn’t as familiar with my body (hello, one night stand), then I see it as my job to focus on my pleasure. And that means bringing out my trusty vibrator.
    I’m not exaggerating when I say vibrators are responsible for 90 percent of my orgasms. (If I could take a quick commercial break to share a PSA, it’d be this: people, regardless of your size, body type, sexual orientation, or dating status, get yourself a vibrator and thank me later.) Because I have a little extra fat around my clitoris and vulva, it’s not as easy for my partner to find. So while I make sure to communicate openly during sex, using a B.O.B. (battery-operated boyfriend) is super helpful as an aid for ensuring plenty of orgasms. And in all my sexual experiences, I’ve never had a partner complain when I bring out my vibrator. More often than not, it’s a total turn-on.

    Time to talk
    I wouldn’t call myself particularly dominant in the bedroom (just let me be a delicate maiden in a Regency romance, thank you very much!), but I do think it’s important to talk while having sex. Having an open dialogue about what feels good, where to touch, what turns me on, etc. is the clearest way to build intimacy and grow my confidence. Even if I’m having sex with a partner I’m familiar with, I’m still the teensiest bit nervous every time. Communicating, even if it’s just joking about how a position isn’t working (anyone else fall off the bed while on top of their partner? Nope? Just me?) can break the tension, get me out of my head, and make me more comfortable.

    Remember, they are there because they want to be
    I’m not going to lie and claim that I can shut off all the negative self-talk my brain seems hell-bent on sending me during sex. But at the end of the day, I know that my partner is with me in that bed (or on that couch, or in that shower) because he is attracted to me and he wants to share this experience with me. Sex should be fun and sensual and pleasurable—let it be!
    This isn’t an “I’ve overcome my body image issues and have great sex” statement though. I still have unsatisfactory sex all the time, and when I do, I’m quick to blame myself and my body. But over time, I’ve learned that I can’t let those thoughts rule me. Otherwise, I could be preventing myself from having some really great, hot, steamy sex in my future. I’m talking Bridgerton Season 1 Episode 6 sex. (You’re welcome!) More

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    10 Ways to Up Your Dating Game in 2021

    Dating is always tough to navigate: what do you text back, who pays the check, and why is it so hard to meet normal people!? But dating during lockdown is a whole new set of difficulties: the old rules of dating no longer apply, our go-to date spots are closed, and we totally forgot how to do our makeup (nope, just me?). But lockdown or not, you deserve a fulfilling life, fun ways to meet new people, and to actually enjoy dating (because no one should have Charlotte’s dating exhaustion). 

    We all say it every year, but 2021 can truly be the year you reach all of your goals (#newyearnewme, right?). No matter what’s going on in the world, this year can be a golden opportunity if you’re looking for love (or, you know, just looking to go on dates that don’t suck). Here are 10 ways to not only date in 2021, but to totally up your dating game, achieve a fulfilling love life, and find a happy relationship (no matter how serious you’re looking for). Read on for romantic success by 2022:

    1. Appreciate how dating is different now
    Maybe you’re getting Zoom-date fatigue, or maybe you’ve kept your dating life on hold since the stay-at-home order hit. However, a global pandemic and social distancing restrictions don’t have to harm your love life. In fact, they could even be beneficial. For example, dating during a pandemic means focusing on an emotional connection first, since the physical connection and new-relationship excitement isn’t possible. You can get to know who someone is without spending time and energy doing the actual dating. Slower connections are a new kind of intimacy (plus it’s more foreplay, you know?), unsexy topics like who pays the bill is off the table (literally), and staying at home is an opportunity to get to know each other with fewer distractions. In other words, 2021 brings a lot of potential for your love life–not in spite of the pandemic, but because of it. 

    2. Keep all options open
    Many of us have this idea that we need a movie-worthy meet-cute when finding a soulmate. But closing yourself off to any meeting that isn’t locking eyes across a crowded bar or running into a long-forgotten high school sweetheart from back home (Hallmark Channel style) limits your chances. And during a lockdown? Your chances are next to nothing. Despite what Hollywood has us believe, we can meet worthwhile people anywhere. You could meet your ideal partner over a Zoom meeting, at an online singles event, in an elevator, at the park walking your dog, or yes, on a dating app. The more options you keep open, the higher your chances of meeting people that you’ll enjoy being around. Instead of a “meet-cute,” try to find the dating apps or methods that feel right for you, and be open to any possibility.

    Source: @ashbegash

    3. Be ready for “the talk”
    No, not the “seeing other people” talk, or even the STD talk (although I urge you to have those conversations as well). I’m talking about the global pandemic talk. It may be awkward, but being on the same page about COVID safety and social distancing practices is crucial to make dating safe and enjoyable. Make sure you’re connecting with people who are taking the same safety precautions that you are and be open and honest about what you’re comfortable with. If an in-person date is on the table, let them know exactly how you’re staying safe, and what you expect from them to feel safe being together.
    As weird as the conversation might feel, one of the good things about dating in a pandemic is that you have to be more intentional and selective about who you spend your time with. Having an open and honest dialogue not only keeps you safe and worry-free, but lays the foundation for a trustworthy relationship. 

    4. Forget prerequisites
    Many of us have extensive prerequisite checklists before even considering going on a first date. Maybe you want someone who is exactly like you, whether it’s interests, religion, or background. Maybe you’re not looking twice at people who have a certain dating history, are over a certain age, or own a cat (because you’re way more of a dog person). 
    While shared values are crucial and compatibility is often determined by similarities, try getting to know someone before making assumptions based on your prerequisites. The only “prerequisites” you need are your non-negotiable values, like kindness, integrity, and humor. Otherwise, base opinions on how you feel, not off of a checklist. Pay attention to the person in front of you, and try not to project a narrative or assign meaning to traits before you even know the person. Ask questions, and genuinely care about why someone is the way they are before determining whether or not they are for you.

    Source: @missenocha

    5. Cut it off with the “maybes,” already!
    Do you have an ex that has been hanging around for years, or a f*ckboy that’s been messing with your head? What about those people you text when you’re feeling lonely or bored, or who you think you might be interested in someday (keyword: might)? I call these people the “maybes:” the exes, previous dates, and “it’s complicated” relationships that didn’t work out the first time around, but you keep their number in your phone “just in case,” or are hoping something will change.
    There’s a lot of reasons we stick around with people we know are not good for us. Maybe they’re a security blanket, maybe we’re lonely, or maybe we’re seeking external approval. But no matter the reason the wrong person is in your life, as soon as you realize they’re not the one for you, that should be the end of it, not the beginning of the end. Now, if you have a friend with benefits (you don’t have feelings for) or love flirty-texting that hot coworker, you do you, girl. But those people you go to out of loneliness, comfortability, or insecurity? They’re just holding you back. Know what you deserve, be honest with yourself, and don’t settle. Bonus tip: unfollow on social media. Just do it!

    7. Visualize your best self
    Dating highlights our biggest insecurities: we overanalyze what we say over text or Tinder, try on 15 different outfits (even if the date is just on Zoom), and maybe even expect the worst and prepare to be ghosted or for the date to go bad. Sound familiar? To cure pre-date anxieties, try visualizing the best version of yourself. Are you confident, comfortable, or friendly? How would the most confident you act on this date? What would you wear? Would you even care about what you wear? Remind yourself that you are the catch that your date is trying to impress, not the other way around. Even if you don’t feel confident or calm, the simple act of visualizing your best self can help you relax, and enjoy the date instead of getting in your head.

    Source: @missalexlarosa

    6. Remember that “no” is not a dirty word
    In fact, it’s one of the most important words in your dating vocabulary. Especially as women, we’re taught to be likable and easy-going on dates, and we focus more on how to be liked than whether or not we actually like them (but more on that below). You know what we should vow to end in 2021? Going on dates we’re not excited about, texting back people we don’t like, or not vocalizing what we want and need in our relationships to protect other people’s egos. Overall, let’s work on saying “no” when we want to say no. Compromise and empathy are crucial in relationships, but so is respect for each other’s wants and needs. Communicating what you don’t want should be just as easy as what you do. If it’s not, this person doesn’t respect you or care about you as much as they say they do. Thank you, next.

    7. Use alone time to your advantage
    While 2020 was a lonely year for many of us, being alone has allowed us to turn inward, explore our truest desires, and get to know ourselves better. When we know ourselves and what we want, our dating lives become more fulfilling, successful, and fun. Think about it: we’ve grown a lot, started new hobbies or hustles, and got to know our likes and dislikes in 2020. Even an abundance of alone time can be invested to understand what we want out of a partner. Plus, scary times make people crave connection, and hitting pause on all normalcy helps you let go of the habits, traits, or dating rules that are no longer serving you. Not only have you been subconsciously preparing yourself for a more successful dating life, but any potential partners have too.

    8. Ditch outdated rules
    Let me go on a quick tangent about a few outdated dating rules that we really should ditch, like, yesterday. To start, my least favorite of all dating rules are “don’t kiss on the first date” and the “three-date rule.” Let’s just throw out any rules that imply that what you want to do with your body, and when you want to do it, is not up to you. Make your own rules based on comfortability and what you’re feeling. 
    Next up: playing hard to get or waiting for the other person to make the first move. Besides outdated gender roles, these “rules” come from the idea that whoever cares less in the relationship is the one who has the most power. But should love be about power? It’s OK to care; we’re supposed to care about each other. So what does it matter if you “come on too strong” or “care more?” Be true to your feelings and what you want. Oh, and making the first move can save us a lot of time wondering if they like us back. It’s 2021: we’re starting side hustles, prioritizing our health, and smashing glass ceilings. Ain’t nobody got time to wait around for a phone call. 

    Source: @cmcoving

    9. Focus on finding out what you want
    Dating is supposed to be about finding what you want, not becoming what someone else wants. Some people will like you and some people won’t. Whether or not someone wants to pursue a relationship or a second date with you has nothing to do with how likable you are, but has to do with compatibility. And I think we can all agree there are many people we wouldn’t mind being incompatible with. Prioritize what you want in a partner by making a list of non-negotiable qualities or values you want, and stop yourself from getting caught up in what a relationship or person could be. Instead, ask yourself if you genuinely enjoy each person you’re talking to, and whether or not they deserve you. 

    10. Know that dating is supposed to be enjoyable (and stop if it isn’t)
    Repeat after me: dating should be fun. It should not feel forced, boring, painful, or sad. If it’s not enjoyable, you’re either putting too much pressure on each date, feeling self-conscious about dating, or focusing on the wrong things. Remember that dating is not intended to have only one outcome. Every experience–whether it’s a Zoom date, Tinder conversation, or a few months of dating–brings you closer to clarity.
    The purpose of going on dates, talking to new people, and opening yourself up to meet someone new is not to feed your ego, affirm insecurities, or to find a soulmate ASAP. The purpose is to collect information that will bring you closer to a happy, fulfilling life, and to have a good time along the way. Bottom line: it should be fun meeting new people, whether or not a second date follows (yes, really!). If it’s not, take a break from dating to reflect on what you’re really looking for in your dating life.
    How are you updating your dating game this year? More

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    13 Ways to Cleanse Your Life

    Sure, you’ve heard of (and probably dread) spring cleaning, when you change the pillows, flip the mattress, and deep clean your bathroom, but we also stan a cleaning at the end of the year that cleanses more than just the home. Take a cue from nature: the trees are shedding their leaves, so why shouldn’t we? The end of 2020 is the perfect time to let go of physical, mental, and emotional toxins. So what’s the best way to clean up your life during a time where we’re always distracted, on-the-go, stressed, or busy? Try these 13 holistic challenges simultaneously, or tackle one challenge every day to Marie-Kondo your health, wellbeing, and entire life.
    1. Simplify your diet
    When it comes to cleansing nutrition, a juice cleanse doesn’t have to be your go-to. Instead of opting for a totally different diet, simplify your diet. Focus less on frozen meals, processed products, or a plethora of sauces, dressings, and dips, all of which have a multitude of ingredients. Instead, prioritize whole foods that come from the earth, not a factory. Make sure the majority of your grocery cart is from the produce section or full of whole foods like beans, lentils, rice, or quinoa. Make meals more flavorful with whole ingredients like herbs, spices, olive oil, or apple cider vinegar. Yes, you might be opting for processed foods as a way to simplify your life and make meal time easier, but trust me, a few fresh, whole ingredients is way simpler than an ingredients list that you can’t pronounce. 

    Source: @ariellelorre

    2. Refresh your personal finance
    Money is not just something you make and then spend; it’s your life’s energy force. Think about it: money is an exchange of value for the effort and energy we give about 40 hours every single week. Take a look at your bank accounts and credit card statements to reevaluate how you’re spending your life’s energy. Does it really bring you joy to go to drinks with the friend you don’t have fun with or to buy the top you’ll never end up wearing? Managing money based on what does and doesn’t bring you joy will reduce stress that comes with spending money on the vacations, items, and experiences that you truly love.
    If money is a consistent source of stress for you and you feel like you’re always coming from a “lack” energy instead of an abundance energy, try cleansing your spendings. Temporarily cancel recurring charges, increase your savings by five percent, order out less, or designate certain days of the week where you won’t spend any money. With the money you do save, consider investing it in yourself: get the gym membership, purchase that online course, or put more into your savings account for future you. The more money you put into something, the more likely you are to make it a priority. 

    3. Limit stress and clear out negative emotions 
    You’ve probably heard of a juice detox, but what about an emotional detox? Sometimes we need a little extra focus on removing impurities in the mind, too. The goal of an emotional detox is not to totally totally get rid of negative emotions (ups and downs are a part of being human, after all), but rather to clear out emotions that are stagnant and no longer serving us. Try recording negative emotions, coming up with a plan of action when negative emotions come up, or go on a full-on complaint cleanse. Since a big (unavoidable) piece of mental health is stress, prioritize cleansing that too. Limit stress by scheduling breaks and downtime into your calendar, forgive yourself (and others) for making mistakes, and incorporate CBD to limit day-to-day or chronic stress (bonus tip: try any of the products from Equilibria, which is our very favorite for stress relief). 

    Source: @kelclight

    4. Reassess your relationships
    Whether online or in real life, unfollow toxic people that drain your energy instead of lift you up. Make a list of the people you come in contact with most often, including friends, roommates, family, coworkers, etc., and ask how you feel being with each person. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you should only be giving your precious energy and time to people who are deserving. That means people you’re proud to be around, people who bring you joy, and people who make you feel loved. If you find that some unavoidable people don’t fall into this category (like a jealous coworker or a toxic family member), you can still consciously decide to give them less thought and energy, even if they still require your time. 

    5. Designate a tech-free space
    Sadly, technology is a big part of cleansing because it’s a big part of our lives. While tech is often unavoidable (we need to make a living somehow, you know?), try to designate one space in your home that’s tech-free. Try the bedroom, kitchen table, or corner where you keep a yoga mat and meditation pillow to create one space in your home where Netflix, Instagram, and Slack are not allowed. Having this tech-free space will remind you to have some “off” time every day, whether it’s during dinner with your significant other, while meditating and working out, or right before bed.

    Source: @the_stables_

    6. Cleanse your social media
    If it tickles your fancy, take a social media detox and delete all the life-sucking apps (sorry, was that dramatic?) from your phone for a designated period. However, also be mindful of how you can keep your social media habits cleansed, even after the detox is over. Utilize the mute or unfollow button for accounts that don’t inspire you, stop checking your phone first thing in the morning, and turn off all notifications. Yes, I said “all.” When your notifications are on, whether it’s a like on Instagram or an iMessage, you’re no longer in charge of your own life and habits. The phone buzzes or lights up to tell you when it’s time to check your texts or Instagram feed, instead of being able to choose when is best for you to check your phone. 
    7. Donate “excess” clothes
    You knew that organization would come into a life cleanse at some point (or you would if you binged Get Organized with The Home Edit in a day as I did). In my opinion, the closet is the most important space to start with, as it’s often a representation of what we need to let go of. For example, donate or sell clothes that don’t fit. Period. Holding onto items you hope you’ll fit into one day is only stopping you from loving, accepting, and dressing for who you are right now. Also, in the most Mario-Kondo fashion ever, get rid of what doesn’t spark joy. Even your clothing items should bring value to your life: a cozy sweater that keeps you warm, a sparkly necklace that makes you happy, a nice bra that makes you feel sexy, or a dress that reminds you of that shopping trip you took with your mom. If they don’t, time to make room for something that will. 

    Source: @waityouneedthis

    8. Refine decision making 
    We make a lot of decisions every single day, even just within the first few minutes of waking up: whether or not to hit snooze, what to wear (which is approximately 100 different decisions), and when to turn on the coffee pot. The little decisions add up to feel so overwhelming that we become unable to make even the most basic decision. Decision fatigue is real, people! To keep up with healthy habits and improve your overall wellbeing, limit decision making as much as possible and reduce decision fatigue. Meal prep all your lunches, sign up for online workout classes in advance (or put a workout in your calendar), do the dishes right after dinner without the choice to do them later, and try a go-to outfit formula so you don’t have to think about what to wear. 

    9. Get sweaty
    The word “detox” has basically lost its meaning since it has become one of the most over-used buzzwords in the wellness space. However, there’s one sneaky method that can actually help the body get rid of toxins, and guess what: it’s not a juice cleanse. “The primary detox organs are the liver and kidneys, but sometimes they’re not able to get rid of certain toxins,” Jeffrey Morrison, MD, told Well + Good.  “What doesn’t leave gets stored, so the body gets rid of it through a secondary system, which is sweat.”
    That’s right: the embarrassing stuff you try to prevent with antiperspirant and prevents you from going straight to work after a hot yoga class can help your body rid itself of toxins. Add “detoxing” to the long list of reasons to exercise. If you’re not exercising regularly or prefer low-impact workouts that don’t break a sweat, try taking a steam shower or finding a sauna near you. 

    10. Spend time in silence
    When’s the last time you actually sat in silence and did nothing? Yes, I mean without the TV on or Instagram pulled up on your phone. Sitting in silence is one of the most crucial and effective things we can do to declutter the mind. Think of it like plugging your phone in the charger when its battery is running low; when the brain is always on, it never gets a chance to shut off. Cozy up on the couch and stare at the fireplace, spend two minutes taking in every scent, sight, and smell, sit on a park bench and take in the scenery, or try meditation. The more uncomfortable sitting in silence is, the more you probably need it. 

    Source: @aroundthewaygyrl

    11. Reassess your schedule
    That’s right: you can (and should!) detox your schedule too. Try looking through a few days or a week of your planner to get a better understanding of what you’re doing all day, every day. If you don’t schedule and plan out every second of your entire life like I do (how does anyone live without an overly detailed planner!?), consider tracking every activity and task for a couple of days to get a good understanding of how you spend your time. Include everything from work projects to a five-minute Instagram scroll. Once you know exactly how you’re spending your day or week, reassess what’s really worth your time and energy. Find the pockets of time that feel like a waste (looking at you, TikTok scroll), and reassess how you can fill that time differently to make you happier or calmer. 

    12. Get some indoor plants
    You don’t have to have an inherent green thumb to know that plants bring, attract, and give off good energy. It’s believed that they ease stress, purify the air, boost creativity, and help increase productivity. In other words, having a plant in your home or workspace can simultaneously cleanse stress levels, your work quality, and the air. BRB, my apartment is about to become a forest. Don’t have much of a green thumb? Click here for how to keep your indoor plants alive, or check out these houseplants that you won’t kill (promise!). And if you’re really not about that plant-life, some affordable fake plants couldn’t hurt (if nothing else, they’ll look really in your home!).

    13. Detox your sleep 
    I like to say that everything starts in the bedroom. Get your mind out of the gutter–not like that (although that might be true too). I mean that sleep is one of the most crucial elements to our overall wellbeing. Thanks to factors like stress at work, overexposure to light, and Netflix binges (curse you, Love is Blind!), more people than ever are relying on coffee to get through their day (forget about optimizing health). To fully achieve a cleansed life, you need to regularly get 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night. If you’re not waking up refreshed and staying energized throughout the day, your sleep (or lack thereof) might be to blame. Detox your sleep routine by limiting light in the evenings, perfecting your sleep environment, and stick to a sleep schedule. 

    How do you cleanse your life? More

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    How My Husband and I Reconciled Our Spending Differences

    One of the first things my husband and I bonded over when we met was that as children we both had a peculiar habit. While playing video games, we both refused to spend any of the “money” we earned while playing. Even if the video game currency was there to help win the game or unlock special features, we held onto our virtual cash. We were fun children.We met very young, and for many years, our spending habits were in sync. As cash-strapped college students, we worked hard and we saved our money for a rainy day. We never knew when we would need money to help pay for school, cars, or living expenses, so we didn’t spend any of it. Our idea of a wild Friday night was a Blockbuster movie on the couch. (That gives you an idea of how long ago we met.) Why the movie love? We could afford to go out to dinner, but we were more comfortable not spending the money. We had a financial routine and it worked well. But when you least expect it, life throws you a curveball.

    When the friction started
    For over five years, we were in perfect financial harmony. But a funny thing happened: we grew up. And we grew in different, albeit both good, directions. He started graduate school and I jumped right into the working world. His grad school stipend paid his bills and left a little money to add to savings every month. I wasn’t bringing in the big bucks, but my entry-level salary felt hefty compared to what I was making babysitting in college. Within a few months, I began freelance writing on the side and had even more cashflow coming in.
    I was working 60 hour weeks and I was ready to treat myself. The occasional happy hour here, a new blouse there. As my income rose, so did my spending habits. I was never spending more than I could afford to and I was saving money every month. But I can see how from my husband’s perspective it felt like my spending habits were changing drastically.
    To this day, I consider myself to be thrifty. I only buy clothing on sale (and rarely at that). I don’t spend money on entertainment like Netflix or concerts, and I skip pricey beauty treatments like manicures or highlights. But I’m not as thrifty as my husband, which caused some frustrations as we adjusted to our new financial reality. 

    How we make it work

    We still had the same financial goals and saw eye-to-eye on many areas of our financial life. But we knew there were some kinks to iron out if we wanted to live harmoniously.

    Finding common ground
    One of our biggest recurring money fights revolved around the fact that after college I wanted to travel. I didn’t travel at all during school and worked every spring break, summer, and winter holiday. Because I was making extra money freelancing, it felt like it was my moment to hit the road. Unfortunately, my husband didn’t feel the same way. He was doing his best to get through grad school in one piece, and on a modest stipend. There came a point where we decided that it would be best if I traveled without him (this was before we married). Well long story short, that plan lasted one trip before an opportunity for us to travel together arose. An opportunity that was too good to pass up. And guess who learned he loved to travel, and that it was worth every penny? Yep, you guessed right.
    Now that we both know for certain we are passionate about traveling, we never disagree about spending money on a dream trip. We learned from this conflict, that before rejecting any experiences because of the cost, we should be open to trying them first.

    Respecting our differences
    My frugal husband sure comes in handy sometimes. (Hello, hefty savings account and emergency fund.) But I get frustrated when he is too slow to make a necessary purchase because he’s debating the cost. Even if he knows he is going to buy that new pack of phone chargers, he’ll wait a week or two to wrap his head around the purchase. I don’t hesitate before buying a true necessity. It’s not like I want to spend my hard-earned money on a water filtration pitcher, but what can you do? Now, even if I am itching to cross a purchase off my to-do list, I patiently wait until he is comfortable spending the money. That doesn’t mean I’m not annoyed by this habit at times. But the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t harm anyone and it makes him feel more comfortable.

    Something that makes both of us more comfortable with each other’s financial decisions is planning together. We discuss everything in detail, with no topic off limits. We debate how career choices may affect our finances down the road, think carefully about retirement planning, and we have financial plans for what we will do in an emergency. Keeping each other informed of the financial moves we’re making, whether we approve of the decision or not, means neither of us feel like we’re left in the dark or purposely misled. No secrets and no guilt for us, thank you very much!

    Have you ever reconciled financial differences in a romantic relationship? More