This is not the first time we’ve gone to bed utterly exasperated with one another…
These late night budget meetings are a bear.
A big one.
I remember hearing about how major the area of finances can be in a marriage.
I also remember wondering what the big deal was.
You just make up a budget and follow it, right?
Not that simple.
Finances are about money… but it’s really about way more than the money.
It’s about priorities.
It’s about personal significance.
It’s about individual preference.
It’s about both people in the marriage feeling that what matters to them is accounted for.
And that can mean some sizable disagreements when two people are vying after what matters most, but with limited funds.
While my husband and I are far from holding hands and walking through the lilies while we count our cash or budget our account balances, there are a few things I’ve learned over the years that can make the process of finding unity in finances a little easier.
Many disagreements over finances happen because one partner in the marriage doesn’t feel heard. He or she does not have a sense that what is important to them matters based on their spouse’s willingness to allot dollars to that area in the family budget.
Take the time to listen to your spouse and to the heart of their desires, showing compassion and kindness for what is important to them. Ask questions to show your interest in their dreams and passions. Do your best to give them hope for how their desires might be addressed in your family finances – even if it can’t be a line item at that particular time.
Limited funds are real. Hard decisions have to be made. However listening to your spouse – really listening – can help dissolve some of the friction that naturally arises during money discussions.
Maybe you are right. Maybe it is time for a family trip, a new car, or a bigger house. But maybe moving forward financially for the “right” goal is not the best thing at the moment for the health of your marriage.
Deferring to the preferences of your spouse can divert many an argument. Can the trip wait for a few months or even until next year if that means your spouse can enjoy a good night’s sleep on a better mattress? Are you willing to drive with without A/C for a couple of months more if the extra savings put aside brings your husband or wife additional peace? Or maybe the bigger house doesn’t have to be so big if she wants new furniture or he wants more land.
Deference is about giving honor to another person and saying to them, “Not only do I hear you. I’m willing to do something to show that I respect what is important to you.”
Family finances work because each partner is doing something to make that happen. Take the time to applaud your husband for taking his lunch to work when his colleagues regularly eat out. Show appreciation to your wife for how she works to keep the grocery budget under control. Compliment each other on how well you each work to keep up your home, bring income into the family, or keep money from unnecessarily flowing out the door.
Managing money isn’t easy. While I’m sure there are many couples that have mastered this area of their marriage, I’m also sure there are just as many couples, if not more, who are still working hard in this area.
And that’s OK.
Keep working hard because the enemy would love to use family finances as the source of disunity, disharmony, and lots of disagreement in your marriage.
So hang tough in those budget meetings. Continue to be open and share your heart, dreams, and desires.
And don’t forget to really listen… to honor what’s important to your spouse by yielding every now and again, and to encourage them for what they are doing right.
My husband and I are right there with you working to do just that.
Money may not always be simple.
But being a blessing to your spouse can be.