Financial issues in marriage are one of the main areas that show up the weaknesses in the relationship. For a couple to successfully manage their finances in this day and age, a variety of skills are needed. You two need to understand male and female differences; you need strong communication skills and negotiation skills. You need a good working relationship because you must decide who will do what, what systems you will use, and, when there is a disagreement, what will be your process for making a decision and moving forward.
If you two are always in a struggle for power in the relationship, money will be one of the main tools that you will use to fight. You even need to look at how money was handled in your family and your spouse’s family; your legacies will affect you both.
Unfortunately we are always looking for a quick answer, a pill we can take, a button we can push to make everything all right. This issue is complex and layered, and you must focus on strengthening a variety of skills to improve how you manage your finances as a couple.
Start with your communication skills; make your marriage a priority; determine to focus time, money, and energy to grow and learn. Many of us don’t feel we have the time to go to a retreat or conference, we don’t have the money to buy a book or curriculum, so we push back those things until we are in crisis. Don’t wait for a crisis; take charge now. If you are in crisis, take charge now. Make a decision to start today to strengthen your relationship; if it is strong, it can get better, if it is weak, stop being negative and move towards hope. It takes time, patience, and a commitment to learn the new skills you need, but you can do it.
Let me give you a tip: if your discussions about money are very heated, that means there are other underlying issues. Until you can begin to work on them and get some new skills, try this.
Pull out some pens and paper and together write down a summary of what you owe and what comes in. Don’t argue or debate; just get down the facts.
Pray and ask the Lord to take over this area of your marriage; repent if you have not been tithing. You will never get out of the hole if you are under a curse (Mal 3:8-10). Ask the Lord to lead you and help you to work together.
Each of you share some solutions and write them down. Decide together which one to start working on.
If you can’t agree, you pick one solution, let the other person pick one, and begin working on those. Meet every week, have prayer, and give your updates. If you are in a lot of debt, you might want to pick one small debt, pay it off quickly, then use that extra money to tackle the next bill and so on. Both of you must determine to stop spending and keep each other focused. Don’t fuss, don’t blame, don’t look at the past or whose fault it is–focus on the solution.
Do some research on the Scriptures about finances, look on the internet for free articles, and buy one good practical, biblical resource you can study together. The For Christian Lovers Only™ Marriage curriculum has a great lesson you can study together, “Talkin’ Money with Your Honey.” There are charts to record your bills and set up a budget, discussion questions, and activities you can do together. There is hope; there are resources; the Lord wants to give you a hope and a future. You are not in this alone.