“You know what really makes our marriage amazing…finances!”…said no person ever. It’s no secret that financial issues are the number one conflict in marriages. In our society today, practically ALL of our lives center around money…the house we live in, the cars we drive, the food we eat, the activities we’re in, the clothes we wear, how much we tithe, etc. And the one immutable fact about money is…when it’s gone…it’s gone! So, in a marriage it is easy to see how a couple, who lives together and shares expenses, could easily have conflict.
I feel PRETTY good (and I use that term loosely) about how Julia and I balance finances. I think we communicate pretty well and I’m lucky that Julia is so responsible with money. However, we STILL argue about money from time to time. I want to share some tips that I’ve found to be helpful in this area. We haven’t mastered them yet, but I think they are all good things to consider…
1. Treat any income as joint income
If you and your wife both work, nothing promotes selfishness and mistrust quite like keeping your money separate. Treat any income as FAMILY income. Combine it and decide together what to do with it. Separate bank accounts might sound good to the one who earns the higher income, but it creates a hierarchy of importance in the relationship…which is never good. At work, I’ve heard from several different guys how when annual bonus time comes around, they turn off the automatic deposit for their paycheck…so they can get their bonus money and do whatever they want with it without their wife knowing about it. Please, for your sake…don’t do this.
2. Don’t hide purchases from your wife
No matter how you keep track of purchases, there is always some way to “get away with” buying something that your wife doesn’t know about. What I mean is…imagine you have a budget category for electronics, clothes, games, food, etc and you want to buy something but don’t have enough money in the budget for it. There is often a way to get around this and buy it without your wife knowing that you spent money you weren’t supposed to (especially if you’re the one who takes care of the finances). DON’T DO IT! You wouldn’t want her to do it to you, so set the right example and be honest with what you do.
One of my favorite times of the year…budgeting time!! Julia doesn’t share my enthusiasm for it, but I make sure that she has input into what we do. Whatever method you use, make sure both you and your wife have a say in the process.
4. Don’t make large financial decisions without being in agreement
Make sure anytime you’re making a decision that involves finances for something larger than your normal expenses that you both are talking about it and are in agreement. It drives me crazy when I see those commercials about someone buying a new $50,000 car and putting a bow on it for a surprise gift. Really?…you’re not going to talk about that first?
5. Pray about finances
When you’re budgeting, or deciding about large purchases, don’t rely on your own instincts. Pray about whether or not it is a good idea. Ask God to give you wisdom and an unselfish heart. If you apply this to financial decisions, especially if you pray TOGETHER, it will help make sure you’re on the same page…not just with your wife…but with God. Remember that God is the one who gave you the money, so keep that in mind when deciding what to do with it.
My advice to you:
No matter where you are, we all need to make sure we’re being healthy in our marriage relationship where finances are concerned. All of the above advice can be summed up by…don’t be selfish, talk about money, remember that God gave it to you.