When you were dating, you and your spouse could talk about almost anything. But married couples find that some conversations are harder than others. And if you’re not on the same page about getting and staying out of debt, those talks can be really tough.
But the hard conversations are usually the most important for couples. So, if you’re feeling the need for a talk about a debt-free future, but your spouse isn’t quite on board, here are some tips for jump-starting that discussion today.
1. Stop procrastinating.
Sure, it’s easier to avoid the conflict by putting off “the talk,” but that’s probably not what’s best for your marriage. For married couples, getting out of debt is definitely a team sport, so you have to talk about it. Remember, when you said “I do,” God turned two people into one (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6). As Chris Brown says, “Conflict is inevitable, but drama is a choice.” Work together and have the difficult conversation now to avoid problems later.
2. Reject fear.
This goes along with the first point because fear can paralyze us and cause procrastination. But it goes deeper than that. If you know something is right, you can’t give in to fear. God doesn’t operate in fear, and He doesn’t give you a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), but of love. You have to step out boldly with your spouse even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone.
3. Ask questions—and listen to answers.
If your spouse is hesitant, you’ve got two options for finding out what’s going on. You can lecture your better half, but nothing shuts people down faster. Or you can ask questions and really listen to the answers. Questions prove that you want to work together, and they assign value to the one being heard. Just as important, questions break down walls and help you find some common ground. Ask about retirement dreams and your family’s emergency fund. Remember, the idea is to start the conversation about being debt-free some day, so let it be a dialogue—not just a lesson in money management.
4. Explain the benefits of being debt-free.
Don’t get all preachy or come in with a ton of charts. That’s no different than lecturing. But try casting a vision for what’s possible. Dream about how generous you could be if you were completely debt-free or how you could leave a legacy for your family. The things holding your spouse back might be making it hard to look up and see the horizon. Give your loved one permission to ask, “What if . . . ?”
5. Pray about it.
Honestly, you can’t change your spouse, but God can. He also can uncover areas where you can be more flexible. And He’s promised to give you the wisdom you need if you’re willing to ask (James 1:5).
Larry Burkett said that if two spouses are exactly alike, one of them is unnecessary. And when it comes to getting out of debt, both of you are very necessary. But it takes communication and a lot of respect.
Your spouse probably won’t transform overnight, but you can gently open the door for debt-free discussions. And when that door is open, hope gets to be part of the conversation.