My wife and I have had success in marriage despite the fact we exhibit many different personality traits. I am more reserved, take my time with decisions and love to spend money. She on the other hand, is an outgoing, get things done driver, who coincidentally loves to save.
Despite our different personality types, we seldom disagree on financial related things. We learned early on that disagreements over financial issues were detrimental to our personal marriage, not to mention one of the leading causes of divorce in America. So we established some guidelines and parameters for our finances that helped us develop oneness in our marriage.
Steps to Develop Financial Success in Marriage
Our financial decisions have not always been the best. In fact, many of our money guidelines have evolved and been enhanced over the years. Within the last five years especially, we’ve realized more and more what it means to be on the same page with one another. It’s in this most recent period of our lives that I’ve noticed success in marriage growing. In regards to our finances, it all boils down to three big issues.
Listening to each other
Your finances will flourish and the monthly budgets will be successful when you spend time communicating with one another. In this effort, both individuals must be willing to come together and hear what the other person is saying. It does no good to ignore or patronize your partner. That only creates resentment and tension.
I didn’t get this for the longest time. We would have frequent discussions about money, but I wasn’t really listening. When Mrs. Luke1428 would explain to me that we had to pull money out of savings to pay our credit card bill, I basically shrugged my shoulders and said we’d try harder next month. Next month would come and go with the same result.
The situation didn’t change until a light bulb went off in my head and I truly heard what was being expressed. My wife wasn’t really complaining about spending too much on our credit card (although that was a problem). What she was really saying was “I’m afraid of the direction we are heading.” That was the big message I had been missing by not really listening.
Sharing the responsibility
No one person can run your family finances. The responsibility must be shared. You may have one person who keys in the numbers for the budget, does the shopping, pays the bills and updates all the financial records. That’s fine because that process is simply division of labor within the marriage due to time availability or the strengths of the individual.
With that said, both parties must be involved. Both parties should share input on the budget. Both parties should be aware of the financial goals. Both parties should have a working knowledge of the family income and expenses, as well as college, retirement and investment planning. In short, it’s a team effort.
You can’t simply abdicate total financial responsibility to one party in the marriage and say “You do it…I don’t care.” What if your spouse dies? You’ll have no clue how to piece together your financial puzzle. What if they make a financial mistake? They will get the full force of your blame. What if they are doing something with money behind your back? When that’s found out, it will cause untold damage to the relationship.
These issues happen every day in families that aren’t sharing responsibility for the finances. Both parties should be involved and have knowledge of what’s going on. Anything other than that scenario is simple laziness.
Sticking to the plan
When we listened to one another and began to share responsibility, we found a natural desire developed to put together a financial plan for our lives. That was a big step. However, the bigger step was learning to set aside the old habits and not violate the plan.
When I stick to the plan we jointly put together, I’m saying these things to my spouse:
“You can trust me.”
“Your opinion and effort in this endeavor is valued.”
“I’m putting my selfish spending desires behind that of the family goals.”
“I’m committed for the long haul.”
If the plan needs to change for some reason or you get a sudden urge to spend money on something outside the confines of the plan, you had better talk about it first. Don’t violate the agreed upon plan on your own accord. Doing that will cause relational damage and ruin any goodwill that has been built up over time.
Learning to do these three things has caused quite a change for us. I’d suggest you give them some consideration today and evaluate how well you are listening to one another, sharing in the financial responsibility and sticking to your plan. If you engage in these three activities, success in marriage will be right around the corner.
Questions: What other things does sticking to the plan communicate to your spouse? How do you share responsibility of the finances with your significant other? Do you ever have trouble listening to what the other person is saying? How have you developed success in marriage?