This August, my hubby and I celebrated 18 years of marriage!
I remember our early years and they were tough for all of the typical reasons–new schedules, surviving the holidays without offending the families, mismanaged expectations, and MONEY.
We had different backgrounds and how we related to money was no exception. I was extremely frustrated that after the wedding, POOF, we didn’t become rich. What happened?!
Thankfully, we have come a long way and if you’re married and wondering why you and your spouse cannot get your financial life together, here are 3 things I know for sure about marriage and money!
Oh and if you’re hoping to get married one day, this advice is helpful too! It will save you a lot of heartache once you are married or help you not marry the wrong person in the first place. Enjoy!
Let’s get this out of the way early. When you’re married, there is no longer his and mine. We are one unified front, one flesh and one team. Remember, “One band, one sound?”
If you’re constantly talking about your bills versus his bills and your income versus his income, you’re facing certain defeat. Your financial life is in crisis and it won’t improve until you see yourselves as one team.
The more energy given to what one person has or does not have, is less energy to meet your goals.
I remember talking to a college friend who was explaining how much student loan and other debts his wife had versus the little he had. Because of this, they had separate checking accounts and she paid her bills while he paid his bills and other house bills.
I immediately went on the attack to defend her.
Every woman wants a husband who covers and empowers her. I could only imagine her shame and feelings of isolation. Debt is sometimes our biggest, dirty little secret and when it’s exposed, the last thing we want is to be shamed, or even worse, ostracized.
A great spouse joins us in our challenges, and together, we make things better.
For our single friends reading this, if you’re seriously dating someone and marriage is a possibility, you must TALK ABOUT MONEY. Ask how much debt they have (All of it)…ask how much money they make (All of it)…Ask how many insufficient fund fees or over the limit fees they have paid in the past year. Seriously!
And while you’re preparing to drill them, be prepared for them to drill you! It’s better to know the good, the bad, and the ugly before any life-long decisions.
If you’re struggling with the notion of ours, I encourage you to pray. Ask God to help you see your marriage as one union, joined by Him, with Him as the center. Focusing on Who He is and What He has done for us gives us strength. When left to our own vices, we will look inward instead of upward.
This is another big one so please allow me to be stereotypical for a moment.
Men should always cut the grass, trim the edges, dump the trash and create the budget.
Women should always cook the food, clean the house, shop for the family and never think about the budget.
Clearly this is wrong but so many people marry without discussing these topics and then there is a misalignment of roles, i.e., they take on activities they do not have the talent, strength, or gift to perform. This can cause heartache which can be easily avoided.
For instance, if a husband, let’s say John, is creating the budget because his father was the dominant personality who told mom how and when to spend money, does not automatically mean John has the best strengths and abilities to manage the money today. Additionally, if the husband is the breadwinner, it doesn’t mean he automatically should create the budget.
When we don’t honestly discuss money, we end up causing more harm than good to our relationships. So, who should create the budget in a marriage? The person who has the best skills to complete it in a timely, accurate and simplistic way.
A good budget is a plan to help you achieve financial success. If it doesn’t meet these objectives, you will probably continue to be frustrated in this area.
Today, I create the budget for our family (no surprise, right?) but my hubby has equal say and influence. However, when we were first married, I wanted him to do the money things. I wanted him to make the hard decisions, organize and pay the bills, look for the best opportunities, etc., etc.! I can’t tell you how miserable we both were!
I dumped my expectations on him without regard for whether it made sense. He is super-talented at many things but I was the one with the ability to organize things, create the calendars and spreadsheets, analyze the details and all the nerdy stuff.
Today, money fights are uncommon for us. Do we get off course? Yep! But then we get back to our fundamentals in order to put the car back on the road. And that’s what I want for you. You must know how to steer your relationship by putting the right spouse in the right role to build a financial life that is rewarding and not stressful.
Have you ever heard or said this?
“Did you buy another pair of shoes when you don’t wear the ones you have?”
“How are we going to get ahead if you’re always giving money to your family?”
Money problems can make us resort to accusations and verbal assaults because money goes after the heart.
Our natural instinct is to fight and blame the other person which creates more friction. Fighting only reduces our ability to solve the real problems.
Be careful of the Blame Game.
Blame is an action word which means to condemn, point the finger at, or to accuse. In the spiritual world, there is only one person who brings up our faults, so much so, he is known as the “accuser of men before God.” He is known for reminding God of how man violated God’s law and rightfully deserves punishment.
Our marriages cannot be strengthened when we assign blame for spending and other money misgivings.
Remember you married a person, another adult, who deserves your love, understanding and mutual respect. And if in your mind they don’t deserve it yet, give it anyway and watch how they rise to the level of your words.
It may be helpful to have ground rules to discuss money because an argument can spiral out of control quickly. Here are some tips to build better communication about money.
- We agree not to yell, or raise our voices.
- We will listen (and not talk) when the other person is speaking.
- We will not resort to name calling.
- We will pray together before making large or life-changing financial decisions.
- We will seek counseling if needed to help us get on the same page.
- Outside voices will not govern how and what we do with money.
- We will schedule time to regularly discuss our financial goals, progress and challenges.
Be clear that you are a team and you must work together as like-minded, mature adults who support each other.
I hope this post has helped in some way and if it has, will you leave a comment?
Let me know your progress, your challenges and your victories. Your comments encourage me more than you know!