Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Car Sharing

So this post by Mouse reminded me recently that I hadn't given a review of how car sharing has gone for us since we went down to just one car around this time last year.  Let me give you a preview of how the very idea of car-sharing went for awhile:

When we lived in the city, I was in school, but Mark worked 20-30 minutes outside of the city:
Him: You should get rid of your car and just ride public transport everywhere.
Me: But I run all of our errands during the day and go to class.  How can I do that without a car?
Him: You could just ride your bike and take public transit. [self-righteously] You should do that anyway.
Me: Hell no. Get away from my car.

[I feel the need to explain that I've spent more than an hour on a streetcorner in 90degree heat waiting for the bus to come. Baltimore City is not famous for it's reliable public transit.]

Conversations with my family went like this:
My sister: What are you going to do about your POS car? [cue pointed look at my father who thought the mechanical problems with the car were all in my head]
My father: It's a perfectly good car.
Me: Mark thinks we can share a car.
Family: [uproarious laughter] Has he met you? You don't share. Or drive very well.  You're going to hit things in his car.

Eventually, his job moved to the city.  Our two cars sat unused for most of the day.  My car stopped starting reliably, and began to consistently shake and rattle when I drove it at speeds above 50mph.  My car also got about 14mpg.  Eventually, I returned "my" car to my parents and my dad found a buyer for the car and cleaned it out for me while I stressed over final exams.  My friend Erin taught me to drive stick.  Mark started letting me drive his car. We signed up for ZipCar when it came to the city.  In June, the Charm City Circulator started running from our apartment in Federal Hill to my school.

And so, a year has passed.  A year in which we have not yet fought over who gets the car.  A year in which we have made compromises, sacrifices, and a general nuisance of ourselves to our neighbors.  A year in which I have learned to drive a stick shift, ride my bike in the city, and have done an awful lot of bus-chasing.  A year in which my husband has bought fenders and snow tires for his bicycle, and rain pants and ankle cuffs for himself.  A year in which I have been living at home with my parents, where I could use their car, and then unemployed, then employed with a walking commute, making the choice not to buy a car much easier.

We make a lot of compromises.  A lot of, "you need the car tonight, so I'll climb tomorrow night"; a lot of, "can you come pick me up after class because I took the bus?"; a lot of, "I'll drop you off at X, because I need the car for Y, but you'll have to wait until I'm done for me to pick you up."  I try to keep the car generally clean, Mark tries to keep from constantly complaining that my idea of "generally clean" is his idea of "horrifyingly messy".  I bring my hockey gear in, but leave my stick in the car.  I track the gas mileage by carefully writing the stats on the receipt from the gas station and then reset the trip; Mark doesn't complain that my gas mileage is lousy.  I would honestly recommend that every couple share a car, for at least a limited period of time, because it's a lot of valuable lessons in choosing your battles and respecting your partner.

We've settled into a system.  The biggest piece of this is the general rule that whoever is at home all day has the car.  We try to avoid taking the car and leaving the other person stranded at home for more than a few hours at a time.  This mostly applies to weekend days; and it takes some work to make it work - sometimes Mark drives me up to a half-an-hour to get me to a friend's house to carpool, sometimes it means a long and unnecessarily difficult trip on public transit, sometimes it means walking or riding a bike instead of driving, even though driving would be much easier.

We carpool a lot.  We try to make it work so we aren't freeloaders, but we drive whenever it's convenient for us and get a ride whenever it isn't.  My sister bought a house recently, and will no longer live across the street, and so the carpooling will be harder.  My running buddy lives on our street as well, and I really hope she never plans to move.

Since I was the most resistant to sharing a car, Mark has put a lot more work into making this work.  He has been the one to change his plans more than me, and use public transit even when it's decidedly inconvenient.  If there is a person who wants to car-share more than the other, they need to be the one making the sacrifice and they need to be the one figuring out how it's going to work.  Our car currently needs servicing and has a recall and I've put Mark in charge of figuring out how to get it to the dealership and deal with that, because, "this was your idea."  Eventually we came up with a plan that involves me spending two hours at the coffeshop next to the dealership when I'm off work, but we don't have a weekend day to devote to this and I have flexible hours. Mark is a firm believer that we'll still be able to share a car when we have children, I am equally certain that we will not, or if we are, it will not be a stick-shift Corolla.

My always-depressing-and-fluid employment situation shifted again recently, and I'm on the hunt for a new job.  I'm applying all over the place, and we've talked about whether this means we will have to get a second car (or a Vespa!) if it's somewhere far away.  The plan is to stick with one car for as long as is reasonable, and then make a change if we need to.

Do you share a car? Could you? Do you and your spouse even have a car? What would need to happen for you to be able to?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Anniversaries

My sister's wedding anniversary is May 25th, and my parent's is May 26th.  So it's cool that their anniversaries are around the same time, and I kind of wish we were around the same time, but that would have been a disaster, or meant we we were getting married this weekend.

Anyway, the thirty-sixth anniversary is apparently the Bone China Anniversary, although that is listed as the "modern" gift, so I think my Dad made it up because he has a thing for Bone China coffee cups. Although I'm pretty sure that my parents have decided that every year is the "travel" anniversary.  They're in London right now.  

For my sister, this is the third anniversary.  The third anniversary is....wait for it....leather.
Cue inappropriate jokes.  We've certainly made enough of them.

My sister and her husband have decided to get some kind of album to commemorate their 11 years together. (Yeah, 11 - high school sweethearts!)  I think this is a really cute idea, and a creative twist on the leather anniversary.  As we are going into our album design ourselves (more on this in the coming weeks), I suspect our album will be our first anniversary gift to ourselves, which is, I think, becoming a pretty traditional first anniversary gift.

Can I just say that the 4th anniversary gift is either "fruit or flowers"? The 6th is "candy or iron".  I mean, I'm pretty sure by those anniversaries, we will get each other what we usually get for our anniversaries, which is...nothing.  Usually we forget our anniversary until two weeks later.  Sometimes we use it as an excuse to buy something fun (like our Wii).  Sometimes we use it as an excuse to buy something sensible (like the rack for the back of the bike so I can haul stuff from the farmer's market.)  Once, Mark bought me these fantastic earrings for our anniversary and we went to the movies and had a nice dinner (by which I mean Chinese takeout...we don't get out much.)

I would love to celebrate our first anniversary by eating the top tier of our wedding cake, but due to a mix-up the morning after the wedding, we brought the top tier to the brunch for people to eat some of (since it was a huge top tier), and my Dad gave away the leftover pieces and didn't save us any (it was always the plan to give a bunch away, and it was never actually the plan to save it for a year - but it was the plan to have some to come home to after the honeymoon!).  So I think we'll be buying or making an anniversary cake.  Which sounds like a pretty good tradition to start.

How are you celebrating your anniversaries?  Are you following the traditional guidelines or scrapping them?  And most importantly, did your dad give away your cake as if was leftover turkey on Thanksgiving?  (Love you Daddy.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Recycled Centerpieces

I know that most of us probably use CFLs, but chances are, there is something or someone in your life that uses regular incandescants still. And if you're looking to recycle, and create totally AWESOME centerpieces, why not give the Light Bulb Terrarium a try?
Every once in awhile, I feel a slight pang of regret for not having our awesome moss centerpieces that I had really wanted.  It's a very small pang.  I don't care that much.  But if you want some more really neat ideas for terrariums, check out this post for suggestions. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Free Stuff!

So today you should go over to Mouse's blog and check out her giveaway of canvas favor bags.  I would have LOVED these to stuff with Jordan Almonds for our guests to take at the end of the night - and sure the giveaway is "only" for 50, but:

1.) YOU DON'T NEED AS MANY FAVORS AS YOU DO PEOPLE.  Here's the secret the favor companies don't want you to know - many of your guests who are couples will take one favor between them.  Many will forget to take their favors.  Many will not want a favor, and will just walk past the favor table.  So have a table with favors, have only half as many as you do guests, and then bam, no leftover favors.  If you run out, instead of blaming you for not having enough favors, your guests will blame your other guests who clearly took too many favors.  But seriously, we had like, 75ish favors for 155 people and had plenty of leftover Jordan Almonds.  (The Lindor Truffles were a higher-ticket item, and people did take multiples of those, but they only take one bag of stuff.  Also I ate a bunch as we were prepping for the wedding.  Wedding prep tip: buy snack food!)

2.) You can totally use these to hold cute deliciousness for your OOT bags, since you probably don't need to make more than 50.

3.) You get a 20% discount on any more bags, so you can score twice as many favor bags for cheep!  I seriously wish we had had these instead of those lame ones you buy at Michaels.

I think that I would fill these with pretzel M&M's, as they are delicious, and the favor bag masks the fact that OMGTHEYAREN'TINOURWEDDINGCOLORS.

So GO! Enter! Win!

Monday Marriage Matters: Rules

My APW group has been getting together monthly-or-more to discuss writing and marriage and a bunch of other stuff.  So we were sitting around at the bar last Wednesday and I mentioned that Mark and I have a rule where we get out of bed at the same time in the morning.  Then I mentioned that we had attempted to develop a rule where one of us did not use more than 5 utensils when she made dinner because the other of us was sick of cleaning an excessive number of dishes.

At which point, Jessica looks at me and says, "you guys have a lot of rules."  I got, naturally, immediately defensive, but then she said, "it's funny."  In a non-judgmental way.  Because she's a member of Team Practical.

So I thought about it, and we do have a lot of rules.  For starters, we have a bedtime, and as a general rule (with a few exceptions, and several arguments) we go to bed at the same time.  Then there is the aforementioned getting-up-at-the-same-time rule.  Most of our friends don't have that rule - and they find it weird.  I could leave for work an hour later than my husband, giving me an hour (or more) more sleep in the morning, if I wanted it.  But at different points in our relationships, both of us have been the one running out the door to earn money while the other person hit the snooze button or grumbled at them for waking them up. It makes both of us resentful, and so, we get up at the same time.

We have the standard, "you cook, I'll do the dishes" rule.  This rule seemed very fair to me until my husband pointed out that I was constantly cooking to get out of doing the dishes and that wasn't fair.  So I had to start backing off, or doing some more dishes.  I've done a little of both.

We have some rules that don't take, or that we would like to impose as individuals.  Mark has attempted to make rules about not leaving my shoes everywhere, but as I sit here typing, there are four pairs in a four foot radius of me, and I'm at the dining room table.  I tried to make a rule about not snacking on anything but salad before dinner.  That lasted about as long as the first bag of salad I bought.  It's not surprising that a rule won't stick unless we both believe in it.

I think that rules are good for relationships, as long as you don't have too many of them.  They are a good way to state your values and make sure that you are both getting what you need from your spouse.  I have a friend whose partner likes to work late in the evenings and sleep late in the morning - the consequence being that they don't spend much time together, which can make a person feel undervalued, like they aren't as important as your sleep.  I have another friend who has a rule with her husband about what financial spending they can and can't get angry about - he doesn't get angry about how much clothing she buys, she doesn't get angry about how often he goes out for lunch.  I firmly believe that it's this kind of agreed-upon give-and-take of creating rules that helps couples get what they need from each other.  

I think that rules can also be tricky, because at the end of the day, you have to remember that you are married to your spouse, not to the rule, and fights can get ugly when you are yelling, "it's your turn!" or "that's the deal!" or "but the rule is X!"

I'm very curious as to what other people's rules might be, and also how you work your bedtime/getting out of bed issues in your relationship.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Any Other Photo

Have you all been over to Any Other Wedding yet?  I first started reading it on International Women's Day, and have generally kept up with it.  They are asking for submissions for their Any Other Photo series, which features a single photo from your wedding that evokes something, or everything, for you.  I sat down to send one in and when I looked through all our wedding pictures, I didn't end up picking any of the ones that I thought I would.  So go check it out!

Also, submit one of your own!  It's so much easier than submitting a guest post, you don't have to pick one that shows your faces if you're shy, and I know that I for one would love to see some of your weddings!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wrong.

The other day, for some reason, my boss and I were talking about engagement rings.  I said I would never be "upgrading" my ring (he was saying they had just upgraded his wife's; he wasn't implying that I should upgrade mine), and pulled it off to show him.  When I put it back on, he asked why I wear my wedding band on the outside. 
 I really miss that manicure.  Even if it did take an hour to soak off.


I wear my ring on the outside for three reasons.  The first is that my engagement ring is too big.  My engagement ring is a 5, and my wedding band is a 4.5.  The wedding band keeps the engagement ring from falling off (and my ring-tightener already came off, unfortunately, although the rings are much more flush without it.) 

The second is that my engagement ring is really wide.  Here is it without the wedding band:
By Prema Photographic.
If I have the wedding band behind my engagement ring, it pushes my engagement ring uncomfortably close to my knuckle.  

The third is that wearing the wedding band on the outside has always felt right to me.  I don't know why.  Maybe it's because you get the engagement ring first, then the wedding band, maybe it's because my mom wears her engagement ring on the outside, maybe it's because my engagement ring cost 9x what my wedding band did and if anything gets lost, it had better be the wedding band.  I know technically you are "supposed" to wear it on the inside, but I definitely see other unconventional women rocking their bands on the outside.  I have concluded there is no "wrong" way to sport your wedding jewelery, including not wearing it at all (which I am not, right now.  I forget mine frequently.  Since it's too big, I don't wear it when I work out, so I forget it after the gym.) 

How do you wear your rings? Do you have multiple rings? Do you wear just a band or just an engagement ring?  Or are you rockin' the Wills and not wearing a ring at all?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: The In Laws

Today is my mom's birthday.  Let's all take a moment and wish her a happy birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mom!
So in case you were doing the math, my Mom's birthday is about a week after Mother's day.  So we spent both last Sunday and this Sunday giving my mom what she always says she wants the most: time with us.  Which is great.  Except it means that my poor husband has to do a lot of that dreaded task that husbands everywhere have to do: spend time with the in-laws.

This task is made even more dreaded by the fact that we're in the middle of a big spring-cleaning project at our house, and the sons-in-law get caught up in it.  They've mounted my parent's TV, built furniture, changed the lightbulbs, fixed computer problems, and done all sorts of other handy things in the last two weekends.  It is important to note that only half of the work they were asked to do was requested by my parents. My sister and I have buckled down to throw away things from our childhood we no longer need, and organize the rest of it all.  My parents are getting rid of the things that they don't want or need any more,

My parents are great, to be sure (also, my Dad reads the blog), but I feel like asking a spouse to spend two full Sundays in a row with their in-laws is asking a lot.  Especially when it involves something as daunting as spring cleaning.  I should point out that my parents did not ask us to come over and spring-clean; that was our gift to our Mom, and the person who asked my husband to come over and put himself to work was me.  And my Dad will surely take this the wrong way and write a long-winded comment about how when he asks my husband to change the lightbulbs, it's a compliment because my husband is much more graceful than my Dad, but the fact of the matter is, my parents like that I married a tall handy man almost as much as they like the fact that my sister married a computer scientist.  Who are both neat-freaks.  Between the two of them, our houses are all much better organized and we are making steps towards not being the type of family that shows up on one of those hoarders TV shows.  But the fact remains: when we come to my parents house, there is always some task that has been waiting for a strapping young man to show up to do it. Not because my parents couldn't do it, but it's so much easier for a son-in-law to do it.

Nonetheless, when we visit my in-laws house, the most work I ever have to do is doing the washing up or occasionally helping in the garden.  Mark sometimes gets asked to sort through his closet or the garage, and sometimes his Dad will give him strange power tools that he is getting rid of.  I do not get asked to change light bulbs or clear out the shed.  (In all fairness, I asked Mark to clear out the shed.)  I'm not sure whether this is because I am a less useful person to have married or if Mark's parents are simply more polite than mine.  (My father is going to comment and say he does not think that asking sons-in-law to do manual labor is impolite.  He thinks of them as part of the family and is extremely appreciative of the help.  Plus, this is totally how things worked with his parents - my mother regularly helped my grandparents with their computers and medical issues, so this is pretty much how people in my family recognize members of the family.  Also, we get paid in very nice lunches and all the spare change we can find.)

Does your spouse get put to work?  Do you?  Is it wrong that I sometimes get a little prickly when my mom or dad calls and says, "X is wrong at our house.  When are you and Mark coming over?" More importantly, if your spouse is asked to help your parents out with a task, does he/she ever feel like they can say no?  Because while I might snottily tell my Dad that I do not want to help him out, my husband is significantly more polite than I am, which I worry will lead to his being taken advantage of.

I've reread and rewritten this post several times to try to avoid offending my Dad, but I don't see a way around it.  So I feel the need to add the disclaimer that I frequently ask my husband to help my parents out; that my husband is always "free to say no"; and that my parents never ever would mean to upset or offend my husband.  Nonetheless, this makes the point even more clear: navigating relationships with family and in-laws is tricky in a marriage.   

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Domestic Honeymoons

Where did your parents go on their honeymoon?  Mine went to the southwest, where they went camping and stayed in $3 hotels.  Truthfully, whenever my dad tells the stories, they're pretty funny and I liked hearing them growing up, especially because we often vacationed in the Southwest when we were kids.

I wanted that for my own family.  I wanted to be able to take my children wherever we went, and say, "we went here on our honeymoon" or "we stayed at that hotel, and look, it's still there!"  So that was a factor in our decision to take a domestic honeymoon.

I think there were some people who were surprised that world-travelers such as ourselves would choose such a simple honeymoon to places where people regularly get sent for conferences, but we didn't want the long flight and the big time change to go to Europe or South America or Australia or Asia.  We were short on vacation time and I didn't have a job lined up, so we weren't looking to spend a lot of money, especially not on airfare.  It was hurricane season in the Caribbean, and we go on dive trips with our friends or family to the Caribbean, so we weren't anxious to go back.

The biggest advantages for us for a domestic honeymoon were that we didn't have to worry about exchange rates or changing money, which I generally feel is a headache, and our cell phones worked.  So Mark could run to the drugstore the morning on our honeymoon when I woke up with a sore throat and cough and call me to ask what kind of Tylenol to buy.  On our first day, I had to call the attorney doing my character review to make sure my last reference for the Bar had been submitted.  We didn't have to worry about not speaking the language or not drinking the water (which isn't that hard, but it isn't that easy).

We were able to do San Francisco and San Diego right because we didn't spend much on airfare, and we also got to go places we had never been and that excited us greatly, so we are very happy with our choice of honeymoon destination.  If you are also considering a domestic honeymoon, definitely don't write it off just because it sounds boring or you feel silly or you feel like you have to do anything.  Your honeymoon is the one thing about your wedding where you really shouldn't feel like you have to do something.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Honeymoons: Does it matter where you go?

I wonder sometimes, whether it really matters where we went on our honeymoon.  We loved San Francisco and San Diego, and we'd been trying to plan a trip there for years, but I wonder if we would have had a better trip if we had gone to South Carolina or Spain or Ireland or Hawaii or anywhere else we had talked about.  I wondered if our cross-country train trip would have felt as awesome.  And I think the answer is yes, because really, I don't think it matters that much where you go.

It matters where you go, because a honeymoon really is a once-in-a-lifetime trip.  I really didn't think it was, but it isn't just another trip.  But at the same time, it doesn't matter where you go, because it's your honeymoon.  Like your wedding dress, which isn't special because of what it looks like, but because you wore it to marry your partner; your honeymoon is special because it's where you went when you went on your honeymoon.  So whether you go to the Caribbean or a hotel in town, it's special.

So I stand by my general feeling that a honeymoon should be someplace that is easy to get to, that is convenient, that is fun.  Don't get too caught up in where to go or what you will do once you get there.  You can be just as relaxed walking around a new town and sitting on a park bench as you can be lying on a beach in the Caribbean.  That's not to say you shouldn't have fun, but if your list of places that you want to go is really long, don't pick the most difficult one just because it's your honeymoon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Honeymoons, and why you can't have another.

We're going to England this summer for my SIL's UK reception.  I'm ridiculously excited about this trip, but when I called it a second honeymoon, Mark said it couldn't be, because we haven't even been married a year.  But the real reason it can't be a second honeymoon, and the reason I think everybody should take at least a few days off after their wedding instead of going back to work on Monday, is because on your honeymoon, you will probably be the nicest to your partner you will ever be in your life.

On our honeymoon, I learned the meaning of the phrase, "honeymoon phase".  Because my husband didn't mind if I was walking slowly; he waited patiently for me to rummage through my purse, he humored me by letting me take 300+ pictures at the zoo.

And THEN, then, I dropped my lens cap in the koala pen at the zoo.  And what did he do?  Took pictures of koalas for me while I found a zookeeper to get my lens cap.  We had a lot more patience for each other.  I ate things I wouldn't usually and agreed to go on a 25 mile bike ride.  He wandered with me into weird kitchen stores where I didn't plan to buy things.  We spent money in ways we would normally argue over, or at least discuss at length.  We were impulsive.  We got lost and didn't fight about it.  Our flight was delayed and neither of us was grumpy.

Am I saying this will happen to you?  No.  You might very well spend every day in your lives cutting each other all kinds of slack and being patient with each other.  Maybe one of you is always game to try clam chowder.  Maybe you regularly go shopping together.  Hats off to you, but we're not one of those couples.  You might also fight a lot on your honeymoon, I don't know if this is normal or was just us.

Usually on trips, we need space.  We build it in.  It turns out, we didn't really want space.  We wanted to cuddle together and hold hands and kiss in public and repeat, over and over, "you are my husband" "you are my wife."

This summer, as we get on a plane at BWI, a bus at Heathrow, and attempt the 55-mile Taff Trail together through Wales, get on a train to Manchester, and finally catch a train to Leeds, there will be, I'm sure, some arguing.  There will be some blaming, there will be some petty bickering, and there will definitely be some "I was right, you were wrong" and "that restaurant was awful!"  But that's okay, because we're still going to have fun.  But it's not going to be a second honeymoon; we're just going to have to settle for it being yet another married adventure.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our Honeymoon

Did I ever properly talk about our honeymoon?  Probably not, because I find honeymoon posts to be a bit tedious sometimes, unless I'm interested in going to the place.  So this week, I'm going to talk about it a bit.  Today, some highlights.  Later, reasons why you should take a honeymoon.  Later than that, a few travel tips.

So we went to San Francisco and San Diego.  We stayed in Fisherman's Wharf.  I don't recommend staying there.  None of the restaurants opened early enough for breakfast for jetlagged travelers; and nothing stayed late enough open for people that wanted to find food at 9pm.  Other than that, it's a nice area.
They have boats.  
And hills.  
And sourdough bread.  (We did happy hour at Boudin.  It was excellent.  And their museum is great.)
We saw redwoods, so I was happy.  They are TALL.

Then we went to San Diego.  We had great weather in SF and crummy weather in San Diego.  Usually it's the other way around, but we got to go to the zoo, so it's all good.  Our hotel in San Diego was reader-recommended and in the Little Italy area.  The hotel was fantastic, so thank you; with a daily proper breakfast; and a shuttle to the zoo.
The zoo was awesome. 



We took the ferry to Coronado.  

I took way more pictures than this (800+ in fact), and we had a great time.  I wish we had more time, but a week was at least enough to relax after the wedding and really enjoy ourselves.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Money

Since we've gotten married, we have been much more transparent about money.  We merged our "marital earnings" but not our savings (because that is what happens when you marry a lawyer), so everything that is marital earnings goes into the same pot and we try to keep our spending approximately equal, and low.  A few changes that we have made include:

1) We switched from Mint to Quicken.  Quicken has slightly better tools than Mint, and Mint kept having problems with some of the banks we use.  We keep it on our joint computer (that was a really big step, btw, and the subject of a future Marriage Matters post.)

2) We opened, and use a joint checking account.  When I started my job, I set up direct deposit.  Eventually both of us will direct deposit into a joint checking account, and pay bills out of it.  Since all of our earnings since we got married are considered marital earnings, it makes sense to keep them jointly.  This will both protect our individual assets if we get divorced, and make our marital earnings easier to value and divide.

3) We talk about saving for retirement.  We're only starting this conversation, but for us, retirement is something we don't know much about, but that we know we should be saving for.  I truly think that anybody our age needs to not take social security for granted, and probably not even expect it, so retirement savings it is.

4) We talk about how much we spend on items, how much is reasonable to spend, and how to prioritize our spending.  Spending for things that affect us jointly comes first - rent, utilities, and food.  Then it's important but not totally necessary stuff - gym memberships, new contacts and glasses, etc.  Then is fun stuff for one of us that the other person doesn't think is necessary or enjoys - like new clothing for me; fun electronic toys for Mark.  These conversations are really hard to have without one or both of us feeling guilty or defensive, but I'm hoping we'll get better at them over time.  (Also when we have more money.)

5)  We keep each other in check.  When one of us suddenly gets the idea to do something fun and expensive, the other of us is there to ask whether we can afford it.  And I think that little voice in the back of my head thinking, "what will my husband say?" is one of the biggest advantages of being married, when it comes to finances.  I don't spend money stupidly anymore, and we discuss bigger purchases together before one of us makes them.  This is also important with sites like Groupon - it's really easy to buy deals and feel like they are deals, but often one of us thinks it's a great idea and the other person reminds them that the restaurant the groupon is for is far away, or the activity that it involves is free at another place, or that we don't actually kiteboard or want to.  This way, we don't throw away money on things we won't use.

Does anyone have any other tips for finances?  How are you managing money now that you are married?