Marriage and Money can be like oil and water. Salt and vinegar. Razor cuts and alcohol. It can be one of the most challenging areas of marriage for anybody – Christian or unbeliever – and world statistics reflect that money issues are often a primary reason for divorce. Like other aspects in marriage, money requires considerate communication and effective planning – which are two areas of challenge for any two very different people from different backgrounds.
So is it MONEY that is the issue or is it the HEART that is the issue?
As Dave Ramsey says, there are typically two personalities when it comes to marriage – the Nerd and the Free-Spirit – and most often these opposites attract. The Nerd is all about the budget, counting pennies, and having the 5 year plan. The Free-spirit is all about living life as it comes without worrying about the future, and prefers to enjoy the moments as they come rather than waiting until old age to celebrate life.
There are really positive aspects about both of these personality types – but they clash when it comes to money management in marriage. Rather than providing the opportunity for balance, these personality types often put the budget in the middle of a tug-of-will war and money quickly becomes a problem. If you and your spouse are one and the other, you can take the time to step back and see how each of you can offer strengths for your money management and learn to dance together in this area, rather than take it to the wrestling mat.
Just so you know – I am NO expert in money management. My husband and I are very different in our attitudes and approaches to money, and with 9 years of marriage under our belt, we STILL have challenges discussing money management. I have been spending time of late – for the past few months – reading up and studying on how to better manage money. As I have learned – and continue to learn with my husband – I’ve discovered a few things that have helped with our money management plan and problems that arise:
1. Planning does not exclude Fun.
It is important to have a plan for your money and to put that plan into action, but a really critical component of planning makes ROOM for fun when feasible. Some paychecks might be tighter than others – and some unexpected bills might come along – but making a plan within budget to do something that your family will enjoy can ease the tension of living from paycheck to paycheck. OBVIOUSLY, this requires some communication about WHAT to do and HOW MUCH to plan, but that’s the whole point of money management.
2. Sometimes you WILL have to Sacrifice.
Living on a variable income for the past 6 months has been very challenging. We are a one-income family, and when my husband changed jobs in May (hoping for a better opportunity as a self-employed contract worker) things quickly plummeted when his first paycheck was about 1/12 (one-twelfth) of what he was used to getting. And that was WITHOUT benefits. We have been without cable TV and eating at our favorite restaurants. We learn to limit ourselves in recreation and have started playing board games together.
3. Keep Your Plan Flexible.
Now, if you are the Nerd and your husband is the Free Spirit, and if he is the sole or primary breadwinner, it can take great finesse on your part to help build a money management plan that both meets your family’s monetary needs AND supports your relationship with your husband. Can I say that for me, THIS is the most challenging part of living in a budget? My husband earns the paycheck and I see the bills, and for the most part I pay them – but sometimes we struggle to be on the same page and prioritize our bills. This requires flexibility and understanding on BOTH our parts and forces us to get outside our own heads, our own hearts, and our own agendas – to do something that is beneficial both for our BUDGET and our RELATIONSHIP.
A money management plan has limitations. There are some bills that just cannot be ignored or remain unpaid without serious consequences. HOWEVER, there are areas that offer great flexibility (such as purchasing NEW anything, groceries & meal planning, recreation including TV and internet, and more). Utilize your strengths as a couple – especially if you are a Nerd and a Free Spirit – and make a plan that helps meet your needs and provides for your satisfaction.
We continue to learn to yield our money management to the Lord – and are reminded over and over that HE is our provider no matter where or how my husband or I are employed. When we keep our hearts focused on His Provision for us, He continues to see us through the challenges of money management – and shows us how to better serve Him with our marriage.
Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money – The Handbook of Financial Peace University
Disclosure: Some affiliate links have been used within this post