Money–it’s a “thing”, especially in relationships. This is one reason why Jesus talks about money more in the Bible than He speaks of Heaven or Hell. He loves us like crazy, and He knew money would have an impact on our relationships.
Sadly, money often has a negative effect. Money fights are a frequent cause of divorce, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Money can be a positive part of your marriage. You and your spouse can go from being stressed because of money to blessed. And it has nothing to do with the amount of money you have.
The key? Communication. How should you talk to your spouse about money?
Know Your Why
The biggest issues with money arise in a marriage when you aren’t on the same page. It happens all the time, and I understand why. Money is constantly moving in and out of our lives and so many money-oriented things are working to get our attention. It’s understandable if you and your spouse are not on the same page.
The best way to get on the same page is to have the same purpose. Keep the “main thing” the main thing. Focusing on the big picture will help you manage the little things that cause frustration and prevent you from seeing eye to eye.
Create a purpose!
What do you want to do with your money?
What is the end goal?
Why manage it well in the first place?
If you answer these questions together and create a simple purpose statement about money, this will help drive communication. It will also ensure you and your spouse are going in the same direction in these conversations.
BONUS: Make sure the money “mission statement” in your marriage is simple and selfless. Simple makes it easy to remember. Selfless makes it sustainable and unifies you and your spouse as you pursue it.
For my wife and I, our mission with money is “love others.” We want to thrive in our finances so we can better love others. The amount of money we have does not change the impact we can have on people. Still, when our relationship with money is doing well, it is easier to love others. And when we win with money, we can love others in more unique ways.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Luke 12:34
Plan the Conversations
Most people do not like surprise conversations about money. The reason? Money conversations can be emotional and often require a lot of mental energy. As a result, giving your spouse proper time to prepare for money conversations is a sign of love and respect. It also sets the conversation up for success.
What’s worse is when people avoid money conversations. Again, I get it. It’s emotional and takes work. But if you avoid these talks, you let the conversations happen to your relationship rather than letting your relationship control the conversations. Do not flounder into talks about money. Decide when they will happen rather than drifting into them.
Plan when the conversation will happen and discuss what the details may look like. Have a simple agenda, if you will. This will help with expectation management.
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” – Proverbs 24:3-4
In most marriages, one person takes more control of the money. This one person handles paying most of the bills, manages a budget or plan, and leads most money decisions. This isn’t a bad thing. It can actually be very healthy! Especially if the person leading the charge is gifted in this area and enjoys doing it.
Sometimes one person in the marriage can use money to establish control. They may use money decisions as a way to lord over their spouse or hold money over their head. Rather than assert dominance with money, you need to use it as an opportunity to serve your spouse and assert humility. You should have grace and exhibit your love.
The best way to do that in communication is to use your ears before you use your lips. Before you talk, pause and allow your spouse to add their thoughts. Listen, and then listen again. When you do speak, choose your words carefully. Pray and ask God to grant you the fruits of His Spirit as part of your conversations. Remember your purpose and work to stay unified as you communicate.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2
For most of us, talking about money isn’t easy. Discussing finances with your spouse can come with a lot of challenges. If you go into it with humility, plan the conversations ahead of time, and stay focused on your purpose–your conversations about money can go from stressful to exciting!