By Scott & Bethany Palmer
Relationships begin with that exhilarating learning curve. We can’t wait to learn all there is to know about this special person. We spend months discovering what they do for fun on the weekends, about their childhood, favorite restaurants, and tastes in music. And then it gets serious.
You walk down the aisle, stand before God, your friends and family, and pledge your life to them “for better or worse, richer or poorer”. Cue music (and happy tears).
But then, in no time at all, you find yourself stressed about life and tense about the “richer or poorer” (not so happy tears). Money becomes like a demanding teacher; it tests you – and your relationship.
With life so expensive what can you?Here are 5 Ways to Prevent Money From Ruining Your Marriage no matter how long again your took your vows:
1. Set a time to discuss money. There is rarely a day that goes by without some decision about money.
Because dollars and cents cross your path so many times in the day it is easy for couples to think they should be talking about money day in and day out. We disagree.
Talking about money every single day is exhausting and doesn’t help your marriage or your finances. In fact, it has the opposite effect. It takes the stress-o-meter and dials it right up. Every day is filled with landmines to avoid.
We have found it works better to set aside one night of the week to talk about short-term money issues and pick a day once a month to discuss bigger issues and larger goals.
If you know Wednesday nights while the kids are at church you’re going to touch base with your spouse about money, you don’t have to “ruin” a perfectly good Monday talking about coffee trip expenses or the rising cost of the gym membership.
And knowing you will discuss bigger concerns or questions once a month (like every 1st or 15th) ensures that neither spouse feels like they’re in the dark about what’s going on financially or that they will be nagged to death about it. Putting some money “dates” on the calendar lets everyone breath easier and it makes everyone happier.
Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.” Proverbs 27:23-24 NIV
2. R-E-S-P-E-C-T your differences. As you spend the time working together on your financial future remember to respect one another. You were not made the same. Your minds do not work the same (no newsflash there, huh).
If he enjoys spending money and you hate it, that won’t change anytime soon, but the way you talk about money can.
What we see over and over again is couples who are caught up in a cycle of assumptions, misunderstanding, and blame.
It doesn’t matter if they have a healthy bank account or are deep in debt, because money isn’t the problem.
Their lack of understanding and respecting each other is.
As if making money isn’t hard enough, fighting about the money or feeling like you’re not being heard is even harder.
It took us years to see this, not only in our marriage, but in our work. We had been in the financial planning business for a decade before we realized that something wasn’t working. We would meet with couples, put together airtight financial plans for them and still see them fighting, stressing out, and even divorcing because of their financial issues. We thought that once we gave them a good financial plan the conflict would go away, but it didn’t.
Because the arguments are rarely about money itself instead they are about deeper relationship issues like trust, respect, and connection.
Most of us assume our spouse thinks about money the way we do, but in 75% of marriages that is not true. Your spouse’s view about money is different, but that does not make it wrong.
Respect your spouse’s real feelings, concerns, and goals for your money. Have you asked them lately how they’re feeling about your finances? Respect their honest opinion. Respect their difference.
3. Don’t forget the fun stuff – dream together! This costs nothing, but really pays off. Dream together.
You work hard for your money. What would you really love to do with some of it?
As we age we sometimes forget how to dream. But consider this a fully grown-up assignment: dream about your future. Would you like to take a class? Take a missions trip? Start a business? Travel? Own a vintage automobile? Try to surf? Start a scholarship fund?
When couples dream together, they move forward together.
You can jot down some short-term and long-term dreams for you as a couple, as a family, and as individuals. Whatever your dreams are, talk about them and start planning for them monthly.
4. When (not if) you disagree about money, be nice. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind. When you talk about money make an extra effort to be nice. Sound simple? Try it.
We like to encourage our clients to “fight fair”. We would love to say that people who set aside a regular time to discuss money and then respect each other’s differences never fight about money again. BUT that’s not usually a reality.
Respecting one another doesn’t mean you suddenly agree about everything, so you may find yourselves heading straight into another fight about money. But if you do disagree, do so respectfully. Arguments about money hurt us like very few other fights do. It feels intensely personal. We feel attacked and get defensive.
Angry, hurtful words are like toothpaste – once it is out in the open, it’s impossible to put back in.
5. Find your common ground. Couples disagree. Some days, often. But there is always something you can agree on. Find your common ground. Some days it may take longer to find it, but it is worth taking the time.
Research shows most individuals marry someone who approaches money totally differently than they do. Savers tend to marry Spenders without giving it much thought when they’re dating. Then you start to share a budget and … you notice the difference.
BUT there is common ground to be found. Find something you can agree on, like let’s:• reduce our debt by 20% this year
• stop talking about money at the dinner table
• plan a small vacation
• agree to honor God with our words when talking about money• put all receipts in a folder on the office desk
• give each other the grace to handle the finances differently within set boundaries
• encourage one another to be honest about money and our feelings
• get help from a counselor or coach for the issues we can’t seem to agree on at all
Find a way to use money to draw you into better communication and a shared future together. Don’t let money pull you apart. Jesus knew we’d struggle with dollars and cents that is why there are over 2,000 verses in the bible on money and our attitude toward it.
You can do this together. It’s worth it. Don’t let money ruin your priceless relationship. Make it happen!
Scott &Bethany Palmer
Scott & Bethany Palmer, The Money Couple, are financial planners, authors, and speakers who help couples tackle money issues in their relationship. Grab a copy of The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Love and Money Language, and take the FREE, online Money Personality Assessment.