It’s no secret that many married couples have conflict when it comes to money. In fact, talking money can create so much tension that we try to avoid it at all costs. But talking about money in marriage is necessary, and it can be done without fighting or freaking out.
For starters, money isn’t a bad thing. It allows us to meet our needs and bless others. Money only becomes a problem when we’re preoccupied with it, by either spending needlessly or hoarding relentlessly. In those situations, we’ve chosen to serve it instead of God (Matthew 6:19-24).
So, as husbands and wives, how do we remain peaceful when we’re talking about money? How do we stand united on such a divisive issue? How do we let money serve us instead of us serving it?
We communicate without defensiveness, arrogance, or selfishness (see Colossians 3:8-12). We assume the best about our spouse, and we start with some self-awareness. In fact, one of the most important aspects of talking money in our marriages is recognizing our own relationship to it.
Chances are strong that one of you leans toward spending, while the other prefers to save. Neither one is necessarily better than the other, for each serves a purpose in your financial plan. However, without specified parameters, they can both have their downfalls.
Here are some financial principles that can help you and your spouse when you’re talking about money:
1. Co-lead the conversations. This might be the most important piece of advice when it comes to talking about money with your spouse. It’s essential that you do this together. One of you may feel stronger than the other when it comes to managing money, but that doesn’t mean you can’t both participate. Which brings me to the second point.
2. Listen, don’t lecture. If you’re the one in your marriage who handles money better, don’t assume your opinion is always the right one. And conversely, if you don’t care about managing money or don’t think it’s your strength, show your spouse you care by being a part of your marriage’s financial solution. Compromise on both of your desires.
3. Set goals. Few people end up accomplishing things in their lives without goals. As a couple, write down where you’d like to see your marriage in five, 10, or 15 years when it comes to your finances. Then, set some goals. It’s been said that we should “glance at the goal, but concentrate on the next step.” An extremely helpful next step will be knowing where your money goes, and a budget will help you do just that.
4. Use the dreaded “B” word. That’s right. What’s interesting about budgets is that people avoid them because they feel a budget restricts them and takes away their freedom. Yet, it’s when we don’t budget and spend whatever we want whenever we want that we actually end up in bondage to debt and stress. Allow a budget to serve your financial goals. My favorite system is YNAB, but there are also free tools available like EveryDollar.
5. Celebrate. As you accomplish your financial goals, whether it’s paying off a debt or staying on a budget for a specific period of time, do something fun to celebrate. It could be a weekend getaway or purchasing a fancy coffee drink that you’ve given up for the past six months. These celebratory moments give us a boost to stay on track for the long haul.
If money is a source of stress for you, figure out why. Ask God for help in knowing why you feel this way about money. Talk to your spouse about what you uncover. Find people who manage their money well and live free from financial stress, and ask them to mentor you.
Talking money doesn’t have to be a source of stress for you or your marriage. It may not always be comfortable to talk about, but it’s important to be united on how you manage your finances. Our spiritual enemy brings destruction and death, and he will use anything to drive a wedge of division between you and your spouse. Don’t let your unwillingness to discuss your finances be a tool in his toolbox.
Instead, choose to have the conversation and fight for financial freedom. Ultimately, having a healthy financial lifestyle frees us up to bring our best to God and into the rest of our relationships.