One of the more difficult responsibilities of a husband or wife is to learn how to communicate with each other about money. I say it's difficult because even the best of marriages can find they have challenges in this area from time to time. I often hear money is the leading cause of divorce and I can certainly see why. It's not always easy to communicate well about money in my own marriage. Certainly men and women are different, but we all share our own interests, faults and factors that have influenced the way we think about money.
Managing money as husband and wife is a journey, but there are some things you can do from a practical standpoint, along with having the right perspective, that will make your marriage stronger.
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Understand You Are A Steward
Probably the most important thing I can share is to understand you're a financial steward of God's money, not your money. If you can understand God is the owner of everything, including money, and you are the manager of it, your heart will begin to change. This is when your marriage can grow because you can work from the same level of understanding regarding the purpose of money in our lives. A perspective of Biblical stewardship brings peace into your relationship (and wallet).
The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psalms 24:1).
So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Corinthians 4: 1-2).
Encourage Each Other
I've been reminded a few times I can be more of an encourager. :) It doesn't do any good to get into heated discussions about money issues. We have all made mistakes with money and will make some more in the future. We're better off looking for ways we can encourage our spouses to be better steward of God's resources.
Listen To The Other Person's Needs And Ideas
Some of people can be very set in their ways. For instance, their spending and saving behaviors may have been established when they were very young. Some children are in spending environments and some are in saving environments. Some are in both. Whatever it may be, we all have to recognize we sometime bring these past influences into the relationship. We need to listen to each other and be open to the fact that God may be speaking to our spouse about spending less, giving or saving more. Being too set in our ways impacts your ability to manage God's money together.
It's perfectly acceptable to seek counsel even when you don't have major problems with your finances. It's sometimes good to get a 3rd party to review your finances and help make sure you're heading in the right direction. It can also be helpful to meet with a Christian counselor who is going to help refresh you with God's word on finances. Certainly, seek counsel if you can't agree with your spouse on how to manage money, or face ongoing challenges.
Have A Weekly Meeting
I like the idea of a weekly meeting about money. At this meeting both spouses set aside everything else and review the family finances. A weekly meeting may not be more than 30 minutes to sit down and review spending for the week, or discuss what spending is planned for the following week. It may even serve the purpose to discuss an unexpected expense that needs to be managed. A weekly meeting is also a great way to avoid all the money discussions that often occur around the kids or at the dinner table. Save all money discussion for this meeting.
Plan Together Each Month
Along with the weekly meetings, I like the idea of a monthly meeting to talk about the month ahead. These conversations don't have to be long either (if you've been having the weekly meeting). In the monthly meeting you can talk about spending needs that might be unplanned for the month and how you'll fund them. You might also discuss some of your larger savings goals for new furniture or big ticket items around the house. Essentially, the monthly meeting is time for you to look at your goals and make insure you're on track to meet them.
The Internet has come on so strong in the past few years that technology, or money managment software, can be a great tool to help facilitate (not replace) communication about money. For example, my wife and I both use the Mvelopes mobile application to look at the balances of our online spending envelopes. This often helps us make sure we're not overspending and we both know the balance of our envelopes.
I suppose all the above can seem quite simple to do as I write this post. But, truthfully, it takes practice. And I believe financial stewardship is a journey, if traveled with the right perspective and together with your spouse, will bring rewards of peace in your marriage and a closer walk with God.
What do you think about these tips for improving communication in marriage? Do you have your own ways that you improve communication?