Tag Archives: marriage

Prevent Fights About Money in Marriage

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/

Photo by yourdon

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?

Marriage and Money and Grace

Marriage and Money

Image by penywise

Last week I had an article with financial questions for marriage.  These questions were meant to get good conversations started regarding marriage and money.  I have handed them out in pre-marriage classes for a few years now and they have gotten good reviews from the couples that have used them.

It is incredibly important for engaged couples to discuss spiritual, sexual and financial histories, but there must be grace for mistakes made with money just as there would be for ones sinful sexual history.

It is understood fairly well in our churches today that there is grace for sexual sin.  Our sinful nature, being what it is, all couples have some sort of sexual sin in their past that they have to work through.  We talk about it and plan for it.  However we don’t offer the same opportunity to financial sins, we just don’t think it that serious.

That is because sexual sin doesn’t hang over our heads as obviously as our financial sins can.  After all, as long as you are no longer sleeping with other person it is easy to think of those sins as in the past, not comprehending  how they affect you every day.   However, if you enter a marriage having lived selfishly with your money for years, you may come into the marriage with a substantial amount of debt.  That debt will be staring you in the face every day until it is paid off which can be years after the honeymoon is over.

That can be a burden on a marriage, one spouse may begin to believe that they are paying (literally) for the sins of the other’s past.  Our culture or our church does not do a good job of dealing with this aspect of marriage and money.  For the general culture it is because crushing debt is as ubiquitous as premarital sex, and just as acceptable.  For the church?  It is partially because we have understood financial issues from the perspective of the culture, or perhaps it is because we just don’t talk about such things, or perhaps it is because we don’t have a good understanding of how the grace of God applied to that area of our lives as well.

My wife understood when we got married that she was getting my debt.  It wasn’t a crushing amount, but it existed and since she came into our marriage without any debt it would have been easy for her to be arrogant about our financial situation.  It may have been easy, but it wouldn’t have been Christ like.  It took a few years to understand, but she had her own set of issues related to money.  As we come to understand one another’s sins better it is a an opportunity to extend the grace of God to one another all over again.  And that is what we are called to do in all areas of not just with marriage and money.

We have to understand the spiritual side of money, Jesus talked about it a lot and it wasn’t just how to save more and spend less.  He talked about the effect it has on our hearts.  He talked about what money can meant to us.  But he also says “My grace is sufficient” for that as well.  We are called to have that same grace with one another.

20 Financial Questions for Marriage

financial questions to ask before marriage

image by nikareteku

Here are a list financial questions for marriage to get a good conversation started.  Couples need to learn to develop open and honest communication about money and it isn’t always easy.  Walking through these questions can help a couple come to some understanding about their own thoughts and the thoughts of their spouse.

I hand this out as part of my marriage finance class.

Just remember to remain humble, your goal here is mutual sanctification not to “win” a fight.

 

  1. How important is money to you?
  2. How rich do you want to be?
  3. What sacrifices will that require?
  4. How did your parents deal with money?
  5. How does that impact how you deal with it?
  6. How might it impact your marriage?
  7. How do you think about consumer debt?
  8. Have you completely discussed your financial past?
  9. Perhaps pull credit reports and review them?
  10. Will you both work when you have kids?
  11. What are your past and present financial obligations?
  12. How do you handle your money: are you a spender or saver?
  13. How much will we earn together?
  14. What are our financial goals?
  15. How will we budget?
  16. Who will do the record keeping?
  17. How will we make financial decisions together?
  18. How important are Christmas gifts, vacations and new cars to you?
  19. What worked well for your family growing up?
  20. What financial mistakes do you not want to repeat from growing up?

Use these questions to get a conversation started.  It may lead to some self examination and learning which can be good. Ask God to guide your conversation so it doesn’t become sinful, but helps you to understand one another better.

What are some other considerations or questions to ask to help your marriage?

image by nikareteku

 

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