At our first years as a couple - finance was a touchy subject. Whenever I raised the issue I came out as a villain and as cheap. I avoided talking about it altogether and I silently observed as our tiny savings account shrunk further and further. We didn't have a plan, we didn't agree, we spent on what we thought we needed. It wasn't selfish; whenever my wife would buy something she would feel guilty and try to explain to me how it is for the family. We struggled for years to reach an understanding between us on our money.
About two years ago I did something very sneaky. We both enjoy going to book stores and browsing through the selection. Our kids scan through their section and we take turns on looking for what might interest us. I picked up two personal finance books - "Smart couples finish rich", and "The automatic millionaire". I suggested to my wife that we each read one book, and when we are done we exchange and read the other. The result was stunningly good. We both learned more about managing our money and we finally began thinking together on how we should plan and execute together. My wife came up with the program discussed in my blog post "How to spend less than you earn, in a nut shell" and I added the electronic part to it - "How to spend less than you earn, part II".
The books introduced us to the idea of setting goals. For me it was always a given that we should save money. Even if we don't get rich, money would be there for us when we need it. My wife, coming out of Russia and seeing how inflation and political turmoil can render yesterday's money worthless always assumed that money is there for us to use now. We now have an understanding of why we save and how we will use the money in the future. Money isn't accumulated so that we could count it greedily - it is there for a purpose and we have already seen the fruits of that strategy. Before - we would charge our credit and I would act frugally. We have begun taking annual vacations with money we save each year and we enjoy it so much more.
Since then, we regularly discuss where we stand on a fiscal basis. My wife no longer feels guilty she buys things when I don't. We have turned the corner and have begun saving more. As long as our income and health do not change - we know where we are heading financially and are pleased with it.
Communicating about money between couples is key to a happy marriage.
Communication in general and expressing fondness and love is what ties it all together.