Money In A Marriage
Poor handling of money in a marriage is the primary reason why marriages fail. Here are some keys to head off marriage problems related to finances.
The Great Divider
The number one reason people give for divorcing is finances. This is true for both Christians and non-Christians. In fact, there is very little statistical difference between the two. If more men understood and cared about how their wives looked at and thought about money, there would be fewer divorces. Likewise, if more women understood and cared about how their husbands looked at and thought about money, there would be fewer divorces.
Let’s take a broad brush stroke and see how women, in general, look at and think about money. If I were to use a military term to describe how women view money it would be “tactical”. They are concerned with the immediate needs close to home. Their major concern is that there is money to put food on the table, shoes on the kids and enough to pay the rent or mortgage. As long as the money is flowing she is happy. When there is risk to that flow is when she becomes anxious. To women money means security.
Again, applying that broad brush stroke, let’s now look at how men, in general, look at and think about money. Going back to the military, I would describe men as strategic in their view of money. They are more forward looking, making sure that retirement is funded, that the family can take that vacation next year; maybe even get that new bass boat. To men, money means power; the power to be able to do things.
Communication Is Key
While the above are gross generalizations, there is a lot of truth in them. Husband and wife need to come together and talk with each other and understand where the other is coming from when there are disputes around money in a marriage. There also needs to be a sharing between husband and wife of financial goals as well as agreement on what those family financial goals are.
One way to alleviate some tension between husband and wife in relation to money in a marriage is for each to have an allowance. And that allowance ought to be the same for both the husband and the wife so that neither feels cheated. This allowance is for each to be able to spend as each sees fit without having to be accountable to the other for it. You can spend the allowance or save it up. The choice is yours. My wife and I each have an allowance and it works out very well for us.
Another idea would be to have some agreed upon spending limit by which neither the husband nor wife would exceed without talking to and getting agreement from the other. For example let's say that the agreed upon limit is $100. The husband goes down to the local home building center and sees that they are having a sale on table saws; and he wants one. Since the table saw is more than $100 he needs to consult with his wife and get her agreement before he purchases it. Likewise for the wife that wants that diamond broach. She must consult her husband.
Both the husband and the wife need to be involved in all of the major financial decisions. Generally women will leave it to their husbands to take care of the family financial matters. However, statistics tell us that women, in general, will outlive their husbands. Therefore, women need to know how to handle the finances and be aware of their financial situation even if they leave it to their husbands to manage on a day-to-day basis so that they can better manage if their husbands pass on before they do.
Another problem that occurs with money in a marriage is emotional spending. Often this is done by women, but not exclusively. We buy things to make us feel good. The problem is that emotional spending can lead us down a debt spiral that is hard to get out of. It works like this: You buy things you can't afford. Shortly thereafter some unexpected expenses pop up. You don't have the money save up so you go deeper in debt. You work longer hours to pay your creditors. You find yourself over extended. You don't have enough time to spend with your family and you get depressed. So, you buy more things to help you feel better...
Delight In The Lord
Sometimes it seems that everything is in short supply in a marriage. There seems never to be enough time or money in a marriage. So, I think that it is a good thing that there are two working together, more if you have children! I think the Psalmist gave very good advice when he said, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psam 37:4 NIV).
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