We’ve seen that most married couples don’t want to talk about financial matters that are causing problems in their marriages. (We also know this from personal experience.) They will usually either avoid talking about their financial problems, or they scream it out. “Talking” about handling financial issues is considered boring. It’s also annoying and can be maddening. And who wants to voluntarily go into that relationship arena? Many couples will divorce each other before they will both agree to sit down and work through their different approaches to money. And how dumb is that?
“I’ve seen several recent studies that say money-related issues are now the number one reason for divorce. The reason why it’s ‘dumb’ to divorce because of money is that the process of divorce causes more financial devastation than almost anything else (that’s why divorce attorneys are rich and divorced people are broke). It’s important to get on the same page with money, but don’t divorce over it!” (Dave Willis)
We’ve had to work through a LOT of financial differences over the years. (We’ve been married close to 50 years. You can only imagine how many financial issues can arise over that span of time!) So, we’ve gathered some different financial tips from some of the “experts” out there to help you. Oh, how we wish we would have had these sage tips given to us earlier in our marriage! So, here’s the first one:
To work towards financial freedom in marriage:
“Avoid common money mistakes. Have you ever wondered why so many people divorce? I’ve found couples don’t just fall out of love all at once. It happens slowly over time. They mindlessly ignore each other’s bids, and don’t behave in ways that honor and respect each other. This is how money works too. Very rarely do we find ourselves in debt from a single expense. It is the compounding effect of our spending over time that leads to financial trouble.” (Kyle Benson, from his article, 6 Steps to Financial Freedom in Marriage“)
“Little” financial bungles can add up over time. So, if you haven’t already, start talking about your finances and how to get to a place where you have more financial freedom. And if you started that conversation in the past but it didn’t help, try, try again. The Bible is all about the importance of perseverance.
“Starting the money conversation can be difficult, but you cannot get on the right path without the first step. Don’t spring the subject on each other at the end of a long workday while the two of you are hangry and trying to make dinner. Instead, communicate that you would like to talk about your financial future. And then plan a time to do it distraction-free. Ask your spouse to think about and write down what financial freedom means to them.” (Victoria H, from her article, 6 Steps to Reaching Financial Freedom as a Married Couple)
Is your spouse resistant?
“If your spouse responds in a reactive or defensive way when you talk to them about money, it’s important to work together to find out where it’s coming from. Explore these issues in a natural course of conversation. How did their parents approach finances and make decisions regarding money? What were some differences between their family and yours? Maybe there are some deeply embedded beliefs in their mind that get triggered when you bring up the topic; and talking these things through could help you unravel them. No matter what, remember that finances are an emotional issue for most couples. But don’t run from the conversation. It’s important to get on the same page with one another to create a shared vision for your future together.” (Drs Les and Leslie Parrott, from their article, “Finances: Get on the Same Page with Spouse”)
Keep in mind through these discussions that:
“Money is amoral; it’s neither good nor evil in itself. When money is a problem in a marriage or a family, the financial problems are usually just the tip of the iceberg. Hidden beneath the surface usually lies the iceberg of selfishness. Marriage demands commitment and apart from sexual fidelity, nothing is more important than maintaining a commitment to each other when it comes to what we do with our money.” (Joe Gatuslao)
In your financial dealings, realize:
“If you make money your god, it will plague you like the devil.” (Anonymous) “Money is the number-one thing couples fight about. Since financial decisions have to be made almost daily, it’s frequent fodder for fights. Many underlying emotional issues can cause money battles. Sometimes it’s power and control. Sometimes the fights stem from the couple’s different family backgrounds. What’s surprising to many couples is that fights about money are not a function of how much money they have or don’t have. Fights about money have more to do with the attitudes each person brings to money itself. The more important money is to you and the more you prize it—whether you are a hoarder or a spender—the more likely you are to have fights about it in your home.” (Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, from, “The One Year Love Talk Devotional for Couples”)
So, again, commit to work through your financial differences. Don’t allow them to take your marriage down. Money isn’t evil in itself. It’s the LOVE of money that is “the root of all evil.” (See: 1 Timothy 6:10.) We give it too much power. We allow the enemy of our faith to use it as a wedge to divide us. Don’t let that happen. Work through your differences. Don’t let anyone or anything separate you. Are you in debt? Don’t let that defeat you; work through it together as marital partners. (And don’t play the devil’s “blame game” over this issue.) Face it and defeat it.
It’s important to note:
“Most financial issues in marriage come down to one main factor: both partners have different core values about money. And many of these financial values developed very early and are difficult to change. For example, one partner might have been raised to value saving and investing. The other partner might have been taught to indulge his or her whims even if it means living paycheck to paycheck. It’s very difficult for partners who view money, saving, and spending in fundamentally conflicting ways to manage household finances successfully as a team.” (Jonathan Bennett)
It’s difficult, but not impossible. We know that from personal experience. Plus, we’ve witnessed this truth in the married lives of many couples we’ve encountered throughout the years. It’s important to work these issues through in your marriage. Look for and find ways to marry your financial differences, so they don’t divide you. Here’s something to prayerfully consider:
“Some spouses freely pool their money and treat it as a joint asset. Other spouses, rightly or wrongly, consider their earnings ‘their’ money and split expenses down the middle. Some spouses are comfortable with debt, while others are averse to it.
“Oftentimes, these issues are not fully discussed before marriage or even after marriage. This can lead to years of misunderstanding, which reach a boiling point during a divorce. It is easy to see how, in the absence of communication, one spouse may believe that the marital finances are perfectly fine, while the other may be stewing in resentment.” (Steven Yoda, divorce attorney)
Whenever “stewing and resentment” is involved, so is bitterness and strife. The Bible is filled with scripture that tells us NOT to allow ourselves to fall into bitterness. And don’t even get us started on the importance of working on strife in your marriage! How can you “cleave together” if you don’t treat each other like partners? Again, that’s why it’s important to talk through your financial issues before they become problematic.
We’re not going to tell you whether you should “pool” your money together or split it in different ways. We believe it’s healthier to pool your finances together. After all, you’re supposed to approach matters within your marriage as partners. But if you just can’t agree on financial issues, it would be better to divide and conquer. And who knows? Maybe you can eventually pool your finances together. But start somewhere. And that “somewhere” is talking about your finances (very prayerfully), learning each other’s financial approaches to money, and then working towards reconciling your differences.
“If you avoid conflict in your marriage, you will put your relationship in emotional debt. If you avoid how much financial debt you have and how you spend your money, you will feel even worse. So, take responsibility by following these five steps created by Ramit Sethi. 1. Get a big picture. Organize all of your debt in one place. [Don’t hide anything, no matter how painful it is. You can’t deal with what you don’t acknowledge.] … 2. Choose what to pay off. 3. Negotiate a lower rate with the bank or credit card company. 4. Figure out how you’re going to pay for it. Decide how much of your income will be used to pay off your debt. 5. Be consistent. I have automatic payments that pay for my auto-loan and student loans. I also pay more than the required amount each month. This reduces the interest I have to pay over time.” (Kyle Benson)
To truly work towards financial freedom in marriage:
“Acknowledge that you both are responsible for your finances; a compromise needs to be reached. We call this shared ownership. Stay on the same page and stick to your budget. Does one of you prefer to pay the bills; or is one of you timelier with deadlines? Or maybe one of you is a master at spreadsheets and loves to keep track of finances? Then that person should take on that duty. … Whatever the system is that works for the both of you, be sure to delegate who does what so there is no miscommunication; and stick to your plan!” (Drs Les and Leslie Parrott, from their article, “Stop the Never-Ending Money Arguments”)
Don’t completely box in each other financially. Make sure you each have a little bit of cash on hand that you can use without having to account for it. This method has helped us A LOT! In your married life together:
“Have some personal money. We call it our ‘blow fund.’ The goal here is that each of you gets a set amount of money per paycheck to spend freely. That way if you feel that you have to have that new video game or you can’t live without a drink from Starbucks (because your kids refused to sleep last night), you already have it budgeted; and you won’t get into a fight with your spouse about breaking the bank. You can even save up your entertainment money for something big. It’s kind of like having your own ‘allowance’ if you will. Plus, it has done WONDERS for your marriage. The one rule you MUST follow is that you cannot judge or make comments about the way they spend their blow fund.” (Casey and Meygan Caston, from the article, “4 Tips for Fixing Financial Issues in Your Marriage”)
Be careful, however.
Concerning the majority of your household finances, here’s some great advice from financial expert, Dave Ramsey:
“My wife and I have made a pact that nothing major financially will be done without agreement from the other. This pact is sometimes a real pain. There are times I really want to spend money on something; and I feel like I’m going into the principal’s office to get permission. Sometimes she feels the same way. Yet that short-term pain and relinquishing of “rights” has brought us closer and closer together. The trust and respect we have for each other because we don’t have any “little secrets” has caused our marriage to prosper. Not only has our marriage prospered, but we also make fewer bad financial decisions. Plus, there’s no major money decisions made on impulse.” (Dave Ramsey, from the article, “Money Talk: The You in Unity is Silent”)
We’re ending the financial tips in this Marriage Insight with a quote from Dave Ramsey. There’s a purpose behind that decision. You see, we know we’re only touching the tip of the financial iceberg with the tips we gave. There’s NO WAY we can give you all the tips that have helped us. But we can lead you to a ministry that can help you get to a MUCH better place towards achieving financial freedom in your marriage. It’s Dave Ramsey’s web site at Ramseysolutions.com. They make all kinds of free financial tools, and articles available to you, plus more. And/or you can listen daily to the Dave Ramsey radio show on their web site (if you don’t already).
We have been GREATLY inspired by the debt-free screams they feature on Dave’s radio show. It’s where a couple works hard and pays off all their debts. They then, celebrate their success by talking about it on Dave’s program. And at the end, they scream, “WE’RE DEBT-FREE!” It’s a lot of fun to be included in their celebration.
Here’s a sampling of some of these success stories, if you’d like to peek. We hope they inspire you.
• TOP 10 DEBT-FREE SCREAMS ON THE DAVE RAMSEY SHOW
Several years ago, we had our own debt-free scream. And it was WONDERFUL! We’re not financially rich people, by any stretch of the imagination; but God inspired us to work on paying off our mortgage years ahead of time. It took a lot of perseverance, many sacrifices, and tough decisions. But the sense of freedom it has given us since is priceless! And it sure has been a blessing when tough financial times have hit us!
So, we encourage you to work to pay off your debts; and pay off your mortgage if you can. But whatever you do, work towards using your money well. Be good stewards of the money God entrusts to you. If you have financial setbacks, find ways to get back up; and then try, try again.
We pray you will.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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