If you’ve been married for longer than two seconds, you’ve probably learned that your spouse spends money a little—or a lot—differently than you do. It turns out you’re two distinct people. Imagine that! But that’s actually healthy.
Larry Burkett used to say if two people just alike get married, one of you is unnecessary.
So embrace the differences! And don’t be surprised when they crop up in your marriage, especially around money. You’re going to feel the tension. But if you handle it correctly, you can build more intimacy instead of creating more distance. Here’s what I recommend:
1. Avoid a Lot of Conflict Before It Starts
We need to be very transparent when it comes to our finances. Both spouses need access to all accounts, statements and financial records. They also need to hold each other accountable with a system of checks and balances that points toward the same goals. These safeguards aren’t meant to restrict our behavior, and they won’t completely eliminate conflict. But they will define boundaries, and that actually creates more freedom in the determined field of play!
2. Create a Budget Together
Once you and your spouse determine your family’s goals, you need to agree on the plan to get there. That’s where the budget committee meeting comes in. At the end of each month, sit down together and make a plan for next month’s income. If neither spouse is gifted in this area, check out this great new online budget tool that’ll make the process easy, and maybe even fun!
Related: How to Make a Zero-Based Budget
Remember, Proverbs 11:14 encourages us to seek counsel from others before making decisions. That means you and your spouse will make better money decisions together instead of leaving the task to just one of you.
3. If the Tension’s Already High, Turn Arguments Into Discussions
Let’s say you’ve found yourselves fighting about money anyway. That’s okay. Just take some steps to turn the fight into a productive conversation that leads both of you to a better understanding of each other and of your money goals.
- Ask God to be at the center of the discussion.
- Remain calm. Remember, conflict is inevitable, but drama is a choice.
- Be specific about what’s bothering you. Don’t assume your spouse is picking up what you're laying down.
- Deal with issues as they arise. Don't stockpile them for months then blow up.
- Ask if something more complex is going on. Have your spouse’s dreams or goals changed? Is one of you feeling insecure? Is there a breach in trust? Are your parents or in-laws really the issue?
- Keep the conversation above the belt. Question decisions, but never assume motives or make accusations. That's not fair play!
- Avoid terms like “always” and “never.” I guarantee that whatever the situation, that’s an exaggeration and not true.
- Be proactive in addressing problems. What you see as avoiding conflict and harmonizing, they likely see as apathy.
- Keep friends and family out of the discussion unless you both agree to bring them in. Otherwise, you’ll damage the trust you’ve built.
4. Pray Often
God—and His will for the money He has entrusted to you—should always be at the center of your financial decisions. As a couple, pray regularly that He would guide you in the process. I’d even suggest you hold hands while praying. (No, you’re not too cool to do that, and you haven't been married too long for it either!)
Related: 3 Things the Bible Says About Money
When you’re seeking God’s wisdom in this area, remember that He gives us all the guidance we need in His Word, where more than 2,000 verses deal with money and possessions. My prayer is that He’ll speak to you through these verses and show you all you’ll need to know to live a blessed life full of financial—and marital—peace.