Overcoming Money Issues In Marriage

Recently, my pastor gave a message about the leading causes of money issues in marriage.  He referred to them as “money minefields” that if not dealt with (or defused) lead to problems in marriage and much of the time divorce.

After listening to the message the second time this past weekend, I think it is one of the most profound messages about money and marriage I’ve heard.  It gets to the root of money problems and identifies the one true solution.   I hope you’ll enjoy what I learned.  You can listen to the actual message here.

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The 5 Minefields:  We Need To Defuse Them

1. Meaning of money

Couples should ask themselves what the meaning of money is to them.  Often times we enter into our marriage with different definitions.  Perhaps its security or perhaps money is the freedom to buy something to make you happy.  “If you don’t know what it means to your spouse, you will be talking in foreign languages”, as my pastor said.  It’s important to have this discussion and get on the same page.

2. Gender differences

For most males, their need, when it comes to money, is to provide for their family.  They like to carry this burden.  For most females, their need is to make sure the family is provided for.  The challenge, as mentioned, is when the husband might work longer to provide, but the wife thinks his work is his top priority over family.  The husband sees it just the opposite.  For some husbands, just because they are working hard, it doesn’t mean they love their jobs more than their families.  Obviously, too much work can cause the relationship to suffer.  My pastor said couples must seek the right balance to confront this issue.

3. Priorities

When we enter into marriage, we enter with different priorities for money too.  There is always the question between couples on how they are going to spend their money.  Should we buy, save, invest, give, etc. and in what order?  Where will we give?  On what will we spend our money? If priorities are different; you’re heading for trouble.

4. Debt

According to my pastor, 43% of American families spend more than they earn in any given year. The average family carries $8000 in credit card debt (without car and home loans).  In his words, “American families are going down the tube!”  Buying now and paying later is not a good plan. 

43% of American families spend more than they earn in any given year.

It may seem to be a good plan at the moment, but you often wish you hadn’t signed the 5 year car note with monthly payments that squeeze money out of other important areas of the family budget.  Unfortunately, this is our culture and for those who are avoiding debt, getting out of debt and staying out of debt, they are “swimming upstream.”

5.  Using money as a smoke screen

Sometimes money can just be the symptom to other issues.  For example, an argument may occur about some issue which results in one of the spouses going out and spending out of frustration.  The argument then becomes about carless spending and not the source of the problem which can be a number of things.  Sometimes, money is used to take out frustration or anger on the other spouse and it mask the real problem.  The key is to recognize the root cause and deal with it

Why Does Money Cause Such A Problem?  Why Are Minefields Present?

As we learn in Luke 12:15, “a man’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  If we focus on things and put money and material possessions in front of our family and marriage we are heading for disaster.  Greed will sneak into your life and be there before you know it.

a man’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15

“If you look deep behind greed you will always find fear.”  This was the most profound part of the message for me.  Greed is the symptom.  Fear is the root cause.  The fear drives our focus on money which will separate our relationship.  For example, fear is what causes us to want to have what our neighbors have.  Fear causes us to be concerned about what others will say or think when we say no to spending money on certain things.  Fear causes us to say things to our spouse about money we wish we had never said.

Solution: How Money Can Be A Bond In Your Marriage

1. Recognize that it’s God’s money, not ours. God owns everything (Psalms 24:1).  We must get on the same page with this Biblical principle and believe by faith that only God gives us the ability to work and earn!

2. God has entrusted his money to both in the marriage.  We are to use money as God wants us to use money (1 Corinthians 4: 1-2).  We are to give, save and spend it wisely. Using money as God wants us to will lead to unity in our marriage.  Managing money wisely, with the same values, shared decisions on a shared budget will lead to building a strong marriage.

What are some other money related challenges, or “minefields”couples encounter?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Last Edited: 18th November 2009

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  1. says

    In item #4, your point about the debt adverse “swimming upstream” is huge. There are enormous cultural factors driving the debt problem.

    Those influences can involve us in a possessions arms race without us even knowing it. They also make us see wants as necessities, because “everybody has gold-plated toy X, why don’t we?”–everybody usually being everybody on TV.

    It would help if we can work toward shutting out the mainstream cultural influences as best we can. The more we’re exposed to those messages, the harder it is to do anything, let alone get control of debt.

    Great post, Jason.
    Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last post ..Envision a Future Without Debt

  2. says

    I really think point #5 is spot on. Typically – spending or hoarding or whatever other money issue you have is the symptom of a root deep in the heart. Usually we are treasuring something as more valuable than Christ or our spouse etc. Getting to that root is key to overcoming problems.

    Also, communication is the lifeblood of any marriage – getting on the same page is so important.
    Jason @ RedeemingRiches´s last post ..Is Retirement Biblical? (Part 1)

  3. says

    Point #2 is crucial. To a man, if he’s working extra hard to provide for his family, it’s not as much an expression that he loves his job as it is an expression that he loves his family. He might not even like what he does for a living.

    When his wife/girlfriend suggests that he loves his job more than anything, he gets offended because he doesn’t understand how she can fail to see that to him the job is a means to and end, the end being providing for his family.
    Investing 101´s last post ..How To Get Started Investing In The Stock Market: How And Where To Find Profitable Stocks

  4. says

    this im my opinion is the major of marital friction and in may many cases divorce. I have seen more than may fair share of divorces and most if not all had the money issue come up. I agree that a couple must look for ways to surmount this touchy issue because if ignoring it is just like cuddling a ticking nuclear bomb- never ends well. In most cases, i have come to see that a couple that has their finances in order and freely talk about it are generally happier

  5. says

    I think that whenever possible these discussions need to be had BEFORE marriage. If not, sometimes it can be too late.

    Second, when the discussions are had they need to be frank, and open and honest, and with mature adults. Beating around the bush doesn’t do anything but make the problem worse. Or, not addressing the core issue, just like the writer stated.
    David/Yourfinances101´s last post ..17 Ways to Save Money on Insurance

  6. says

    Good post Jason. I agree with all of the above. My wife and I used to struggle in several of these areas until we learned to talk through every item on the budget together. It helped to really listen to each other and figure out the emotions behind our feelings about money. Once we understood where each other was coming from it opened so many doors in our relationship.

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