I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a variation of the phrases “I’m trying, but he isn’t”, “I’m sticking to my budget but she’s not”, and “I’m ready to retire, but he’s not”. There are many things my spouse and I don’t agree on. As an example, I am a risk-taker and my wife is not. My wife doesn’t like to look at the budget but I do. She is perfectly fine shopping cheap and I’m not. The list can go on and on. But, one thing we do as we navigate through some of life’s most difficult challenges, is talk and come up with a plan. Marital unity is absolutely critical when making important financial decisions and also dealing with the day to day minutiae of budgeting, shopping & other daily spending decisions.
For many of us, we weren’t modeled how to manage money well as children. Worse yet, we weren’t modeled how to talk about money with our significant others. Some of us may even have searing images implanted in our brains of our parents screaming and fighting in the kitchen over money. So, it’s no surprise that many of us don’t know how to talk with our spouses about money. For that matter, some of us don’t really know how to talk to our spouses at all. If this is true, how do we begin to have dialogue with our husbands and wives that will be beneficial for the whole family.
It’s no secret to some of you reading this article that I’m going to quote the Bible. And, for some of you who don’t know that I do that…YES!!! The Bible!. 🙂 I think the first thing I will share is that if your spouse “doesn’t want to listen to you”, you should probably consider what you’ve been saying and how you’ve been saying it. Sometimes your spouse just feels too much pressure from you when it comes to accomplishing the goals you’ve set forth. Maybe you come across as a dictator. Maybe you’re an Ephesians 22-24 guy and you love these verses:
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything”.
But, if you’re forgetting Ephesians 5:25 that goes along with these verses, then maybe you should consider re-reading this passage.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Last time I checked, Christ’s love is the most absolutely sacrificial kind of love ever demonstrated to mankind. Are you showing your wife this kind of love when “she’s not submitting” to what you say? Just a thought…
Now, maybe your the wife saying “My husband just won’t lead. He should be taking charge of this.” I find no scripture verse that says your husband has to be perfect at everything and take the lead on every single matter that comes up in your house. As a partner in your marriage you are capable to take the lead in many areas and help manage the finances. I say finances as that is what I’m writing about today. What’s the point of all this? Using the title of a new tv drama…., THIS IS US. This is how we sometimes relate to each other. This is how we sometimes speak to each other. When it comes to goal planning, I’m quite certain God’s intention wasn’t for one person to handle everything and the other person to be completely in the dark or complacent about matters.
So, what can you do? What can you say? The answer is I have absolutely no idea! I don’t know you. I don’t know your financial situation and I don’t know exactly why “you’re trying, but your spouse isn’t”. But, I could recommend a few ideas that you might find helpful. First, we must speak kindly to each other and not blame one another when things don’t go right. When it comes to making good money decisions and being on the same page as your spouse, it’s important to have clear and peace filled dialogue. Ask your spouse questions like “what’s important to you right now about our finances?”, “where do you see us in 5 years and how do we get there together?”, “how does this purchase help us with our goal of funding education for our children?” “what do you think about talking to a financial planner?”. I had to throw that one in….;-) Kidding aside, you must find a way to communicate with your spouse about money in a way he or she understands. A couple of resources I could recommend… Find a “Financial Peace University” class in your area. Find a good counselor who can help you process some of the issues you need to address with marriage and finances. I’m partial to good Christian counseling and I can recommend a few good counselors if you’d like. Go have a talk with your Pastor. Read Randy Alcorn’s book “Money, Possessions, and Eternity”. There is so much you can do.
Most importantly, you aren’t alone. I’m writing about this topic today because it’s been a recurring theme in my practice lately. I’ve sat with couples as tears have overflowed because one spouse has plan A while the other spouse is focused on plan B. I’ve sat and heard stories of marriages on the brink of divorce because the two couldn’t agree on a financial direction. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are things you can do to make your marriage and your financial situation better! If you need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. Please share with us a story of how your marriage and finances have improved! We’d love to hear it.