I have talked to many couples about money over the years and there always seems to be some tension around money within marriages. According to some evidence fighting over money greatly increases chances of divorce. It may be a testament to how powerful the love of money is in our culture.
My wife and struggled with how to handle our finances in a biblical fashion and how to handle money issues within our marriage with the grace of the gospel and we have learned a few things about preventing fights about money in marriage:
Don’t become money Pharisees: Many church folks talk about money with a very legalistic mindset. We set hard and fast rules to live by when it comes to our money and then we experience the same guilt with money that we do with every other sin in our lives because we broke the rules. You will both make mistakes or have already and there must be grace for those mistakes just like any other sins that have been forgiven by Jesus.
Remember to communicate: It is easy if one spouse “Does the bills” or “Handles the money” for the other spouse to feel left out especially if that spouse also doesn’t bring in any income. I have had to work very carefully to keep my wife involved and help her to know that our money is OUR money. We have gone as far as to schedule a weekly finance meeting where we go over spending, budget and planning. Mint.com creates great little graphs for my presentations.
Create and commit to your budget together: The initial budget should be something you and your spouse decide on together. It may be a tough conversation but you can help one another by calling out the idols you have in your life around money. My wife, by nature of taking care of our home, is responsible for spending a large share of our budget that isn’t automated. She does her best to stick to the budget we agree to and we discuss it when it needs to be changed.
No questions asked money: If you can afford it allow one another play money. If my wife wants to order a new gadget for her camera she doesn’t have to ask me she just buys it. Similarly, I don’t have to ask her when I want to go out for lunch. We each have our own accounts with direct deposits that are ours alone.
Automate things: When possible automate savings and bills. Saving is much less painless when you don’t have to do anything to accomplish it. We have a whole article on how to do it here.
Ask “Why do I feel this way”: We all have experiences with money that lead us to think a certain way about it. I, for example, value my savings like an idol just for its own sake. I trust that having no debt and money in the bank will save me from life’s circumstances instead of trusting in Jesus as my savior.
Know your Role: No not that men are the breadwinners and woman should be home barefoot and in the kitchen. (Although my wife hates shoes and loves to cook). Know how your individual styles complement one another. Or know what you can and cannot do. By way of example: My wife will hold onto cash like it is gold. She will spend that $50 in her purse several times. Each time intending to deposit it to cover the purchase she just made. I ,on the other hand, will hold onto cash and spend on a card because it isn’t concrete money to me.
This list, like most of this blog, is a monument to our failures. We have learned many of these lessons the hard way. What else can you do in order to prevent fights about money in marriage?