My husband is my personal superhero. He is a great match for me in every way and has one of the kindest hearts of any man I know.
Coming into our marriage I knew that finances were the leading cause of divorce. I did not tread lightly or believe that love would conquer all. I had the financial education to know how to set things up so that money was never something that came between us.
My father always made it his top priority to educate my sister and I on finances. When my sister was twelve and wanted to buy her own computer my dad asked her, "Is that an appreciating asset or a depreciating asset?" This was designed to instill in us early on that your money should always be used to make you more money, and that my sister and I had the power to do so.
I have continued this approach into my financial education as an adult, taking business courses, reading books on how to invest and build your wealth and speaking to everyone I could who was more educated than I was in the area.
I have developed a clear view of the financial world because of this education and how this macrocosm manifests itself in our personal lives-- namely in relationships. It has always been important to me to keep my marriage clear and healthy in all areas; and keeping our money clear is an extension of how committed I am to my husband.
You have to look at the future of your relationship with a sober perspective, rather than a romantic lens. Viewing finances pragmatically is what will allow the romance of your relationship to thrive and grow over time. Hoping that things will change or get better with time is succumbing to your romantic lens, and it leaches the relationship of its peace over time.
Here are three steps to keep your relationship financially healthy.
Be Clear on What your Contribution is:
One of the things that creates resentment in relationships is when one partner works and brings in the money, and the other stays at home. In many relationships, the partner who stays home doesn't feel like they have a right to the money and will not ask for what they really want, because they weren't the ones who went out and earned it.
If you are in a relationship, you are being a contribution in some way, whether it is raising children or caring for your home. If you agree to both live off one partner's income, this doesn't mean the partner who didn't directly earn it wasn't a major support in their spouse's life.
This comes down to self-worth. We often assume that the role of our partner is to remind us of our self-worth, but that is not a reasonable expectation of them. If you don't value what you have to contribute, you cannot expect your partner to. You really have to look at how you value your contribution to the relationship and what you would like to have in your life- whether or not you're the main source of income.
Consider How You Tend to Spend Your Money:
You need to be clear on how you and your partner tend to function with regard to money. What are your saving and spending habits and what are your partner's? If you are someone who likes to spend $600 on a pair of shoes now and then, how does that make your partner feel? If you have always wanted a boat but your partner doesn't share the same nautical dreams, you need discuss this before you enter into the next phase of your relationship. Most people are not willing to be honest about their financial aspirations because they believe that if an agreement is not reached, it will threaten the relationship. This is rarely the case. The real threat is having the difference in opinion erode the relationship over time as it becomes apparent in different situations.
Make a Deal and Deliver:
This is a conversation where you sit down with your spouse and write down everything that is required in the relationship. Who takes out the trash, who brings in the money, who makes sure the kids have brushed their teeth and how many nights a week does each person make dinner?
In my house, my husband and I both bring in the money, we split the bills, I make dinner every night and he minds the bills and takes care of his beautiful gardens. The greater the detail, the greater the ease. People avoid putting this into practice because it takes away the romantic notion. The opposite is true, when you have this clarity, it leaves more space for romance.
The Secret to Having Money Is Making More than you Spend:
Now this is quite an obvious sentiment and I am being a bit facetious here. I wish this point was as obvious in practice as it is on paper.
This is a total myth. This mindset is designed to control us into being average earners and big consumers. If you open up any good financial book, you will realize that setting yourself up to have money is as easy as learning to cook or do basic math. I am at an advantage because I was raised in a household where this type of attitude was valued, but I have seen people learn this in adulthood successfully time and time again.
Being in a relationship is about finding someone who makes your life happier, lighter and greater. The romantic partner you choose becomes the most important business relationship in your life. What if it was easier than it seemed to have a healthy relationship with your partner and your money?
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.