Heads up Soldiers! It’s the season of love. I hope each of you had romantic Valentine’s Day. Money is one of the few things that affects every aspect of life. Often times, the functional aspect of money overshadows the emotional impact of money. Money problems are the second leading cause of divorce, trailing only infidelity (according to marriage.com). Debt and communication issues are major sources of stress and anxiety for many marriages. So how can we win with money and have a fruitful marriage? There are three relational views of money we need to consider:
When you get married, two become one. The independent single life gets traded for the interdependent married life. This transition requires transparency, or openness. There should be no secrets kept between husband and wife, especially when it comes to money. Be willing to have conversations about money, no matter how difficult the topic. Learn to be vulnerable and communicate your weaknesses and fears about money. Create intimacy by expressing your financial hopes and dreams with your spouse. Two great forums to practice the above are having a budget meeting and having a dream/money date. My wife and I sit down and do our budget every single month. We also openly talk about our financial goals that map to our future dreams. Lastly, we pray over our budget and well-being. Doing this keeps us focused, on the same page, and creates oneness.
If we’re being totally honest, we all suffer from some level of ego, selfishness, and stubbornness. Marriage requires being “selfless.” Plan on becoming fluent in French, moving from speaking “me” to “we” (oui). Consider your spouse’s desires above yours. This can be accomplished by embodying humility. Renowned author C.S. Lewis frames humility this way: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” You are not less important than your significant other, for you both have unique backgrounds, personalities, and thinking patterns that bring value. Develop habits of buying something that your spouse likes and appreciates. Imagine the joy that gets created when two people are willingly putting the other person’s wants and needs above their own.
Marriage is the ultimate partnership. The vows you took on your wedding day expressed your undying love and commitment to your spouse. Those promises also included how you handle money. Two keys to maintaining financial commitment in marriage are integrity and consistency. Establish core values with how you handle money to walk in integrity. My wife and I discuss all large transactions (giving, saving, and spending) before making a decision. Promote consistency by abiding by the spending plan (aka budget) you co-created with your husband or wife. Stay on budget. Don’t overspend a category because you “feel” like it. Kids feel whereas adults know what’s real. Let’s not act immature. If a line item on the budget needs to be revised, discuss it together. Good communication creates intimacy.
Soldiers, now that we’ve explored the “feelings over function” perspective of money, it’s time to create an action plan. What steps do you need to take with your significant other to create more financial transparency? How can you “mutually” sacrifice for one another? What are some guiding values and principles you can put in place to demonstrate financial commitment? Oorah!