This week’s tune up will focus on MONEY in the marriage. One of the biggest factors leading to divorce is money issues. Why is money such a big deal? Money shows us what we value. We spend money on things that are important to us. Conversely, we don’t spend money on things that are not important to us. So money is a big deal in marriage because it forces two people to decide what they value and what is important in their relationship. Many couples never have this conversation before marriage and take the attitude of “we’ll figure it out as we go along”. But this is a disaster waiting to happen.
Another facet of this money issue is the age at which many people get married today. Some couples are well into their 30’s before they get married and each individual is already financially independent. They have their own job, bank account, children in some cases, house, etc. So it’s challenging for couples to marry their finances and truly become “one flesh” as the bible encourages. How do you join “your money” with “my money”? Will we have two bank accounts or a joint account? How can I trust you with “my money”? How much debt do you have? These are common questions that couples rarely think about, discuss or face the realities of BEFORE marriage.
So how do we have a happy financial life in marriage? The first thing to think about is it’s not really “your” money or “my” money. It’s God’s money. He allows us to work or use our gifts/abilities to bring income. He’s the One who gave us our abilities in the first place so we really owe Him everything. If we think of money not really being ours, and we realize we are simply stewards or managers overseeing what He has given us, it becomes easier not to be selfish with “our” money. We will be okay with using our money as God sees fit and coming together to make those decisions.
Next, can you really enjoy the things you desire (nice house, luxury car, gourmet meals, latest fashion trends, etc.) by yourself? What does it mean to have the house of your dreams and live alone because you lost your spouse to selfish desires? Can you enjoy expensive clothes when you don’t have your spouse complimenting you on how nice you look? These material things pale in comparison to having a spouse to enjoy them with—someone who loves you and cares about your wellbeing—someone who enjoys being around you (with all your weaknesses). I’m not saying have one without the other. You can have both—nice things and a spouse—but it will take teamwork and compromise to make it happen.
Communication is key when it comes to money. Couples have to be willing to talk about their budget, saving/investing, personal allowances, etc. BEFORE everything hits the fan. Can we afford for you to buy that MK purse right now when the children need school clothes? Can we afford a bigger house note when we’re saving for the college fund? Can we buy a third vehicle when our business is struggling? Do we need to have two incomes or can we live off one? These are the questions we have to be willing to discuss so our financial life is a happy life within the marriage.
I hope you’ll take the MONEY CHALLENGE over the next seven days and commit to making your financial life stronger. Once you’ve worked out money issues in your marriage, the love flows a lot easier!
Day 1: Reflect on how you feel about money and marriage. Is it my money? Is it our money? How was I raised to think about money? Am I willing to change the way I feel about money? How does my spouse feel about money?
Day 2: Reflect on the things you value. What do you usually spend money on? What is most important to you? How does your spouse value money? What does he/she usually spend money on?
Day 3: Have a discussion with your spouse about the things you value. Share what’s most important to you regarding money in your marriage. Let your spouse have a turn and listen to the things he/she values. Discuss how your values line up. Do you need to re-appropriate your money?
Day 4: Discuss things as a couple for which you would like to save. Do you have a savings account? Do you plan to invest money? What are things you would like to have in the next 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Day 5: Discuss how you feel about credit and the use of credit cards. Is it better to have joint credit cards or separate credit cards? How is your credit? Do you know your spouse’s credit history? How do you feel about debt? How much debt is too much?
Day 6: If you don’t have a monthly budget detailing income versus expenses, take some time and make one TOGETHER. Even if one person pays the bills, both spouses should be aware of the finances. If you already have a budget, take a few minutes and discuss if you’re both happy with the budget. Are there ways you can reallocate money to something else?
Day 7: Reflect on the week and how you feel about money and your marriage. Were you able to resolve any issues? Do you feel closer to your spouse? Were some things revealed you didn’t know? Are you committed to trusting your spouse regarding money in your marriage?
Stay tuned next week for the third element in our 5-week marriage tune up! If you took last week’s communication challenge, let me know how it went!
If you missed Part 1 on Communication, click here. https://thewriteaddiction.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/transformative-thursdays-the-5-week-marriage-tune-up-pt-1/
~Coletta Jones Patterson