Over the last couple of weeks, my wife and I have been having some serious fundamental discussions about money.
Just last week, we decided to say adios to our budget. Yesterday, we tried to decide if we should pay for the family to go out to eat. Then we had a conversation about an appropriate travel budget for 2012.
It was only this morning that I realized how blessed I am.
I’m blessed because ‘we’ and ‘we’ and ‘we’ talked about all these decisions, and we eventually came to a consensus.
For far too many couples, it’s ‘he’ and ‘she’ feeling bitter about what the other is doing with money.
If you are one such couple, I pray that God will give you the strength to begin to implement just one item in this post.
Developing Financial Communication and Financial Oneness
1. Focus on feelings before facts.
Next year, for the first time in our lives, we’ll no longer get a set dollar amount in the mail every month.
I’ll be joining the ranks of the people in the world whose pay fluctuates.
As we’ve talked about how much money we need in a transitional fund, we’ve realized that the number is a reflection of feelings like security and uncertainty.
It’s important for me to recognize that with three young kids and a stay-at-home wife, my wife needs the home to be a stable (read secure) place. A larger transitional fund helps ease those feelings of insecurity.
Once I understand that, I can begin to understand why a larger fund is necessary.
2. Summarize by saying, “So, I hear you saying …”
In our premarital counseling sessions, we were forced to do this.
I thought it was forced, unnatural, and a complete waste of time.
However, in our marriage we frequently use this technique. In fact, I could probably say it’s saved hundreds of serious rifts in our marriage.
Imagine the following conversation.
Spouse #1 says, “I think we need $20,000 in a transitional fund.”
Spouse #2 says, “That’s way too much. You need to learn to trust God.”
Spouse #1 says, “I’m feeling uncertain and insecure.”
Spouse #2 says, “So, I hear you saying that the money in a transitional account helps you feel secure about the upcoming changes.”
Spouse #1 says, “Well. Sort of. I do trust God. But, I do also think it’s important that we responsibly prepare for the transition and be sure we can care for our children that God has entrusted to us.”
3. Agree on everything before you spend it.
Everything? Are you crazy?
Yes. But, you need to do crazy things to have a fantastic marriage.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds. It’s called a budget. A budget is where you and your spouse agree what you should and should not spend money on.
We even have certain spending guidelines in our home, like the one that says neither of us can spend over $100 on a single item without first consulting the other.
You may call it marital red tape, but I think it is a necessary way to force open communication between husband and wife.
4. Develop a Connection Routine.
Develop a routine where you and your spouse have time to connect every day. For my wife and I, we walk. We put the kids to bed and walk around our front yard.
For some strange reason, we find it hard to talk when we aren’t walking.
We’ve done it so much that I once noticed what resembled crop circles in our front yard. I told my wife that the dogs must have been running around so much in the night that they made a circular path in the grass.
My wife pointed out that it wasn’t the dogs, but it was us walking in that pathway every night.
Anyway, sometimes we talk about our day. Sometimes we talk about why we were or weren’t connecting. Sometimes we talk about financial decisions. Sometimes we tell stories.
If we ever need to talk about money, there is a forum in place.
5. Don’t be a selfish jerk.
It wasn’t until after I was married that I realized the acts of the sinful self (Gal. 5:19-21) are a lot of household sins.
Sure, there are the biggies like sexual immorality, drunkenness, and orgies.
But then there’s hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy.
These items are most often found in the home.
Financial oneness sprouts out of being one with Christ.
It’s hard to love others when you’re still in love with yourself.
Spend more time trying to understand your spouse than trying to make them understand your perspective.
Spend more energy trying to provide for the needs of your spouse than you spend trying to fulfill your own needs.
Love God. Love others. And you’ll see an immediate improvement in all aspects of your marriage.
Still looking for advice? Consider looking at 101 ways to improve your marriage and money relationship.
Now it’s your turn.
What suggestions do you have for developing healthy financial communication and financial oneness in marriage?