Are you mad over money problems in your marriage? If you are, financial
consultant Ron Blue claims that you aren't alone. He states, "Money is the
reason given in 50 percent of divorce cases, but I believe money problems
are symptoms of an inability to relate to each other on other levels. How
you use money reflects your priorities. For example, one spouse may want
to furnish the house, while the other wants to take a vacation. They call
it a money problem, but it's really a priority problem, or a problem of
communicating about their priorities."
It's been said, "Money has power far beyond its ability to purchase goods
and services. It has the ability to negatively change one's attitude
towards our spouse when we don't learn how to use it as a marital team."
Haven't you seen that to be true?
Spending issues sure can cause a lot of division within relationships!
Steve and I know that for a fact! It took a lot of years for us to learn
how to give and take so we could be united in how "our" money is spent
(rather than "his" or "hers"). It's not that we don't each have a little
To spend our own way, but when it comes to bigger purchases, we've made it
our goal and commitment to be united as a marital team (and we are).
To look further into this matter, we'll share a portion of a Kyria.com
article written by Beverly Burch titled, "Stop the Money Madness." In this
article Beverly wrote, "You may not want to discuss personal finances but
it's important that you and your spouse learn healthy ways to talk about
money. And while the size of your bank account is significant, it's the
meaning you assign to money that makes the biggest impact on your marriage
-for good or for ill.
"A factor that affects how couples develop a sense of how to spend their
money as a marital team is coming to an understanding of how their concept
of spending was shaped by the family they grew up in. Spouses may end up
clashing because they came from families, which handled money quite
differently. A woman who grew up equating money with security might marry
a man from a family of spenders who expressed love through buying
expensive gifts. In either case, our own financial style feels right
because it reflects attitudes and values that are familiar.
"Moving from individual to shared control of finances can feel threatening
to newlyweds who are still learning to trust one another in other areas of
life. Money can become the focus of conflicts that are really about
something else. For instance, a newlywed might not accuse his or her mate
of self-centeredness. It's easier to criticize excessive spending instead.
"As couples move into their middle years, no longer does the question '
mine or yours?' drive disagreements over money. Instead, the questions
multiply as the couple's responsibilities mount, 'Who gets what? How much?
When? and how are we going to manage it?' Although some middle-years
marriages are troubled by crisis, most simply begin to experience pressure
from the weight of having more responsibilities & at the same time the
shrinking of available time & money.
"Later Years: CONTENTMENT or RESENTMENT? As a couple mover into their
Later years, they see how their former financial choices have affected
their current choices. As retirement approaches, the most important
financial question becomes 'How are we going to live on a fixed income?'
Resentments that weren't solved in earlier years now begin to surface. At
this stage, arguments over money usually take the form of blame for
decisions long past the possibility of change.
"A negative focus on the past can cause problems with a couple's ability
to work together on current financial decisions. Unless they can let go
of resentment and blame, they won't be able to move on peacefully and
productively with the rest of their lives."
Let me (Cindy) interject here, before sharing more of Beverly's article.
This last point is an important one. The pastor who married my husband
Steve and me, gave us great advice before we married (and we thank God he
did). He told us to work NOT to argue over money. He said that once we
were to the point of arguing, the problem was already at hand and arguing
over it would only make matters worse. He told us to instead, face the
problem - -work together to resolve it and then talk about how NOT to get
in that predicament again. It wasn't to be about playing the "blame game"
but rather to figure out how we could work together on our finances to
find solutions to the problem. I'm sure that small piece of advice saved
us hundreds of arguments. Because of it, we've learned to let go of the
past and instead worked towards making better financial decisions TOGETHER
to build a better future.
According to Beverly Burch, "Here's how to get a head start in an area
where couples struggle:
- "WITHOUT SELF-CRITICISM OR SELF-JUSTIFICATION, IDENTIFY YOUR OWN
RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY. What does money mean to you? Does it make you
feel powerful, anxious, guilty, loved, responsible or secure? What
assumptions and values about money did you develop while you were
- "AVOID LABELING YOUR SPOUSE'S ATTITUDES AS 'RIGHT' OR 'WRONG.' Try to
understand one another's money history. Listen for the hurts, fears
wishes and hopes that get funneled into money. Try to empathize rather
than criticize. Honoring each other's needs can help you respectfully
negotiate your financial decisions. Remember, respect breeds trust.
- "LEARN FROM EACH OTHER. Temporarily out aside your own beliefs and see
what your spouse can teach you. A saver can learn a new kind of security
when stretched by a spouse who exchanges money for present enjoyment, or
who finds satisfaction in giving.
- "TOGETHER, LIST YOUR PRIORITIES. What is valuable to you? Identify the
top priorities you share and what this means for your budget? In my
husband's family, the adventure of traveling around the United States
was a high priority, and their budget was geared toward that. They did
without some things, but family gatherings today are enlivened by the
stories they're able to talk about because of their travels.
- "GET SOUND ADVICE. Some conflicts over money come from not being aware
of your options. Ask someone you trust to refer you to a qualified
financial advisor who will respect your priorities."
Let me tell you that Steve and I are not "qualified financial advisors"
but on our web site at www.marriagemissions.com in the "Finances in
Marriage" section, we link to some who are. And we also provide a link
within this Marriage Message (on the web site) to the entire article by
Beverly Burch (so you can learn more).
From Crown Financial Ministries we give you the following closing thoughts
to prayerfully consider: "Christians who are not experiencing peace in
financial matters should reevaluate and ask themselves: 'Who is in control
of my financial decisions? Who is directing my paths? Am I being
controlled by God or by my own desires?'"
Please make this a matter of prayer. If you aren't using your money in a
way that honors each other and honors God, we hope you will make the
effort to start to change things today.
Cindy and Steve Wright