Married Life In Times of Crisis: Married life and money
Do you think combining money and marriage is a recipe for disaster? You’re not alone. Money is the number one issue married couples fight about, and it’s the second leading cause of divorce. When we talk about money in relationships of any kind, we’re bound to find some frustration and tension. No matter how much you love your spouse, managing money can be a bumpy ride. After all, you both are coming from different life experiences, and the way you perceived and internalized those experiences was probably very different. That’s why you sometimes have two very different views on money before and after you get married.
Something To Talk About:
- Forge a common financial vision: When it comes to money and relationships, unmet expectations can cause a lot of conflicts. The quickest way to feel unfulfilled and unsatisfied with your spouse is when you expect things to go a certain way, only to find out the reality is a bit different. If you’ve always thought you have to immediately buy a house after getting married, you might feel let down when you celebrate your first anniversary in the apartment you’re renting. That is why it is so important that couples have a common financial vision. There’s no rule stating married couples have to buy a home, start a family, or go on a trip to Paris during their first year of marriage. If you are on the same page as your spouse those things won’t matter as much. You get on the same page by asking the right questions and then finding agreement with the answers. Questions like “What are we trying to accomplish or achieve with our money?” “How much is enough?”And “How will we know when we get there?” Marriage is all about compromise. If one of you has more expensive taste, consider shopping at an outlet mall to snag those name brands at affordable prices. Because the bottom line is: Your lifestyle needs to line up with what you and your spouse agreed upon as your financial vision.
- Establish a shared set of financial values: Again, this will take hard work of communication and compromise. It will demand looking into the deepest parts of your heart and soul as to what really matters, and what you are going to look to as the source for your life decisions. And here are the key questions for that conversation: Where should our money go? And how much? What is important for us to prioritize? So how do you establish a common set of values—a shared value system. A husband and wife should operate with a mutually-agreed-upon set of financial values. When you form a budget together, implicit values get discussed as you answer the question, “What do we mutually value?” Your family budget is a primary way to give expression to what is important to both of you. There will be less conflict in a marriage marked by careful financial planning and explicit shared values. So start by discussing your common values? A budget turns conversations about money from reactive and constraint-driven to proactive and opportunity-driven. Don’t divide your life into financial management or spiritual issues. As Christians, all of life falls under the sovereignty of God, including our finances. As Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” (Matthew 6:24). A follower of Jesus cannot have divided loyalties; the Lord is to be first in all things. And Christian priorities should guide your handling of money. How you steward it is a spiritual issue. How you spend your money should reflect what is most important in your life.
- Accept and compensate for different temperaments: Everyone’s money mindset is different, and opposites tend to attract. Chances are, one of you loves working with numbers (the accountant) and the other one would rather not be tied down by what the numbers show (the free spirit). One of you might be the saver and the other is more inclined to spend. While personality differences cause some marital problems, it isn’t the real root of your money and marriage issues. The source of the problem is whenever one of you neglects to hear the other’s input, or when one of you bows out from handling the finances altogether, or when the couple does not accept and compensate for the two different ways of looking at money. Each of us has natural financial tendencies — inherent strengths and weaknesses in how we think about and manage money. These tendencies come from many sources: our parents and other influential people in our life, significant early financial experiences, the culture we grew up in, and perhaps most significantly, our temperament. If a husband and wife learn to understand each other’s God-given temperament, it will yield insights into the way each handles money and will help them do a much better job of managing money as a team.
- Where would you like to see your marriage go this year? Do you expect your marriage to get better by doing the same things you did last year?
- On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest level, what level of importance does money have in your life?
- Were your views of money learned at a young age or learned as you matured? How have they changed now that you are married?
- Did you forge a common financial vision? How did that work out?
- Did you establish a shared set of financial values? How did that work out?
- Did you accept and compensate for differing temperaments in managing money?
- What is your attitude toward debt? When should we use it? Is paying off debt a very high priority for you?
- How interested are you in managing money?
- What do you consider a big financial decision? What does a financial crisis look like to you?
- What do you do in a relationship with a person of another faith?
- Is it too late to implement these tools into your marriage if you are already married?
- Share with your group any changes you want to make as a result of hearing this sermon?
Take one thing home with you:
Is it time to stop making money mistakes and find common ground? Because cultivating a solid marriage takes time and work. It can be an awkward or even frustrating process, but you can learn how to discuss and manage your finances in a more productive way. Couples can learn to overcome their hang-ups around money. This will be a game-changer for your money and marriage, and it will help you create a life you love together.
And remember, you married this person for a reason. Believe it or not, you need their skills, insight, and perspective—especially the ones you don’t have. That different viewpoint, different perspective, different temperament can bring valuable insight and knowledge to the table and the solution you forge together will be better than the solutions you come up with individually.