How To Fight Fair About Finances

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Let’s look at some rules for honor on the battlefield, or “How to Fight Fair About Finances.” We’ll start with a “never”:

Never try to work through money problems while angry. Calm down, and then make an appointment with each other to try again. When you meet for that appointment, try incorporating some of the suggestions in this list.

Listen carefully to the other’s suggestions without putdowns.

Read what other people have tried, such as the one-income family who sets aside two budget categories under the wife’s management —one for all household needs and the other for herself to spend as she sees fit. This helps her avoid the guilt involved when she’s forced to choose continually between groceries and her own clothing items. Another one-income couple avoids conflict by having all the income under the wife’s management. She pays all the bills and divides any remaining funds. This couple feels that this arrangement gives the woman more freedom to fulfill her role as manager in the family while maintaining her personal dignity.

And now some “always” ground rules:

Always take time to discuss and thoroughly understand your income, insurance plans, investments, and assets as a couple. Put this on your “every six months” agenda.

Always try to understand your spouse’s hidden agenda in money fights. Don’t worry if you must agree to disagree. Studies show that unless one partner feels a need to totally dominate, agreeing to disagree doesn’t mean you can’t work together.

Whether you have a joint account or a separate account always set aside a monthly amount of personal spending money for each of you. Even a dollar will help!

A joint account has always worked best for us. From the beginning of our marriage, we prayed for the attitude of “What’s mine is ours” and God has enabled us to feel that way. Even though there have been times when one of us has written a check and forgotten to record it, times of seeing that check returned with a NSF written in red ink across it, and times of despairing that we’d ever learn, we still feel that this arrangement reduces the potential for conflict.

But the important is not whether you have one account or two. It is, rather, the love that is shared in mutual trust of each other —and in trust of God.

To help foster and maintain that unity in financial matters, let the books be open. One of the easiest ways to create problems for each other is withholding information. When partners refuse to confide matters that are important to both, then all sorts of misunderstandings spring up.

Another essential guideline is, make mutual decisions. We have a rule at our house that any purchase over fifty dollars (Christmas can be an exception) has to be agreed upon. It used to be much less! But a working plan, a system of priorities, and an outline for the future —which is crucially important—probably even more important than a budget, because it discusses the values you want in life, not just “what” and “how” you go about buying. Call it a working attitude toward life, a common understanding on values and priorities, is a plan for Christian stewardship. But whatever you call it, work at setting long-term financial goals in choosing a lifestyle that is really worthy of the kind of life you want to live, and God wants you to live together.

Often the question comes, which spouse should handle the money? Well, the one who has that gift, of course! And husbands: remember that handling the money has nothing to do with God’s declaring you to be the head of the home.

I love this statement on money matters in marriage (by David Augsburger):

It’s high time for Christians to choose to travel light. It’s time to sort out our values and to pare those we keep down to the core, and to put the long-term eternal values in the first place.

And so as a husband and wife, choose values that are worthy of people who want to live the Jesus way in life —simply, openly, honestly, and putting persons first. That might help money mean some things to you both in your marriage.

Money can be the major problem in marriage —because of all its many mingled and mixed meanings. That is, unless. Unless communication worms its way through the emotional thicket of financial dreams, of wild expectations, of spending habits, and our values, and our wants and needs. And it can be a major problem until. Until understanding tears out some of the underbrush of tantalizing attractions, of seductive appeals to consume, of compulsive needs to compete with other couples.

Money: the responsibility of handling it is awesome. The call to use it wisely is great. The service it renders is incredible. And let me tell you, if you’ll let God into that area in your life, you may never again have to say with Eeyore [the sad donkey in the Winnie-the-Pooh books], “Pathetic! That’s what I am.” Your profits will be in Heaven, and so will be your heart.

The above article is edited from the terrific book OPPOSITES ATTACK, by Jack and Carole Mayhall, published by NavPress. This book (which is no longer being printed) is aimed at turning your differences into opportunities and helping polar opposites turn into the best of friends. As they often say, “different doesn’t mean wrong —it just means different in the way you approach life.”

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Filed under: Finances in Marriage

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Comments

8 responses to “How To Fight Fair About Finances

  1. (LESOTHO)  It is amazing how many things we are not taught as little girls before we get married. How we discover things that bewilder us and we try and surf through them, is no easy task. I only believe that I am fortunate to have found this site two years after my husband and I almost divorced (WE HAD ALREADY STARTED THE PROCEEDINGS).

    I am a mother of 3 beautiful girl angels, (one of whom is my stepdaughter) and I pray day and night that God gives me the wisdom and courage to inform them and talk to them about these things instead of having to fend off so many marriage demons.

    Thank you for your website it has saved mine and my friends and their friends’ marriages and we will continue the crusade of family first.

    Sincerely from an anointed Mosotho lady married into a Ndebele family. I just need now to pray for my husband who is ancestor worshiping, to see the power and mighty of our Lord.

  2. (USA) It rains on us, too many times. 1st we got hit by F-5 tornado, 2nd after a year cancer. Remission, after 4 mos. cancer came back, took more chemo & had stem cell transplant. I was in medicaid back then + my husband insurance. Soon after my transplant, my husband was out of job. He got a better job, so, I got kicked out on medicaid.

    Now, It’s been a year, I felt great for a few months. I’m kind of worried again. I found a lump under my chin. Oh! gush, I’m tired of surgeries, testing, being poked, chemo’s. My husband & I talked about it, it’s the 3rd time the cancer came back. I can feel his frustration, I am frustrated too. I’m not qualified for medicare or medicaid, can’t afford to pay the co-pays & deductibles. The only way, I can be qualified on medical assistance again, is if we get a DIVORCE. We love each other, but all our hands are tied up; there’s no where to turn.

    Anybody, Please. If you have any advise… I prayed, I’m hoping this is only another bad dream and I’ll wake up & everything we’ll be normal again.

    The 1st round of chemo’s was around $200,000, 2nd round was the same & the transplant, I heard around more/ less a million. We got private insurance – our share will be 10- 15%.

    1. I have prayed for you and your husband. Be blessed and listening quietly for the voice of God.

    1. (SOUTH AFRICA) Walter – Its’ never too late – I have always believed that ANY marriage (even the most horrific abusive ones) can be SAVED if BOTH parties are willing and able and committed to seeking God and his plan for them and their marriage.

  3. (GAMBIA) My husband and I have been married for at least 3 years. We have always had arguments about money. My husband insists on knowing or being told about every personal expense i.e. everything I want to purchase. He wants to be able to say “okay, go ahead with the purchase” or “No, do not go ahead with the purchase”. I find that very restricting as I work as well, thus bringing something into the family. He calls that openness.

    At some point, I told him that I needed to take money out of monthly income to spend wholly on myself or any other thing and I don’t need to have to tell him about it. He calls it selfishness and lack of submission. He goes ahead to even call it “keeping secrets”. I feel like I am in some kind of school where everybody MUST abide by the rules or be expelled.

    I am also one that likes to save. I believe that we are first of all individuals before we become spouses. Money to me means security and an assurance that in the event of any surprises or emergency. I will always have something to fall back on. He says that is selfish and insists on having a joint account. I agreed but still insist on saving some amount, no matter how little, privately. Of course, he insists on knowing that account and how much is there and what it’s being used for when those “emergencies or surprises” come up.

    I don’t have a problem being open with my husband. However, I want to have some feeling of freedom. I do not want to feel solely dependant on somebody. I want to feel like I can make financial decisions and not need someone’s consent. Are these feelings wrong or inappropriate etc.?

    1. Hello, I hear you. We are in both same situation. That’s why my husband and I agreed to have a different accounts. This means we have a joint account that he doesn’t touch at all and he has his own account, which he puts all his money in that account to pay all bills! I don’t pay anything at all besides my needs. I buy it with my own money. I don’t want to be told to limit myself in things I can do. Have a freedom for yourself even though you are married. You still have freedom to do whatever you wanted to do in your life.

  4. Hello, I have problem issues with my husband when it regards to handling money. Yes, I mismanaged our money at first when we moved to Michigan. At that time my husband had only 1 income; I also worked. Our total income before for past years 2011 to 2014 was lesser than this year? I had issues of bouncing checks and my husband didn’t like it, so now we have a separate account and am dealing with it.

    When it comes to money matters my husband doesn’t trust me at all!!! He is the one who managed our finances, whatever I need or need from house I ask him, and he is good of providing it. I’m not happy about it but it’s less of a headache for me to managed that money. I keep my income or whatever needs I need for myself. I buy them with my own money even though my husband will disagree with me. It’s for the best for both of us and it’s working so far so good in our needs. I hope all married couples will agree just like my situation right now, it hurts but it’s for the best future.