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Ask Chuck: Tips for talking finances with your spouse

Ask Chuck: Tips for talking finances with your spouse

Ask Chuck your money question

Dear Chuck,

My husband told me we need to discuss our family finances. I asked him if we could wait until after the holidays. He agreed to but I’m a nervous wreck. What should I do to prepare? 

Nervous about Our Finances

Dear Nervous about Our Finances, 

The fact that your husband wants to discuss your finances does not necessarily mean that something is wrong. It could be a very positive step in the right direction! He may just want to open the dialogue so you two can get on the same page and work towards some common goals. Prepare your heart, encourage his leadership, and welcome his desire to talk. 

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Some Possible Scenarios 

(Courtesy of Christian Economic Forum)

There are several reasons that spouses get nervous when it comes to discussing finances. Painful memories from childhood or later on may reveal insecurities. The fear of changing one’s lifestyle can uncover misplaced dependencies. There’s a fear of shame that accompanies bad investment decisions or the loss of income. Financial infidelity may be discovered and trust may be threatened. He may need to talk to you about his job or a potential layoff. 

Is debt an issue in your marriage? A survey conducted by Fidelity Investments found that couples concerned with debt argued significantly more than those without debt concerns. They also found that they have difficulty having conversations about budget/spending, managing debt, saving, and investing for the future. 

The truth is, marriages function better when there are no secrets. Financial decisions need to be shared and discussed with honor and trust. If mistakes have been made, this is the time to confess, repent, and forgive. Regardless of what is revealed, we can trust the Lord because of His promise: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV)

Build Trust

46% of those surveyed at Wallet Hub said they’d leave a relationship if their partner spent money foolishly. Half wouldn’t marry someone with bad credit, and a majority said financial infidelity might be worse than actual cheating. This reveals the impact money has on couples. 

Financial issues can signal a lack of self-discipline, drug or gambling addictions, or unmet emotional needs. If your marriage is under a great deal of financial stress right now, taking the time to sit down with your spouse and talk about any deeper issues could be the best thing that could happen. 

Ask the Lord to prepare your heart by removing any fear or anger. Then set aside a time and place, free of distractions, so you and your spouse can focus on your situation. 

Ways to Prepare

  • Read 1 Corinthians 13 aloud before you start
  • Pray together
  • Listen attentively
  • Be transparent with an attitude of love
  • Respect what is said without becoming defensive
  • Be honest and don’t hide debt or spending
  • Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you
  • Don’t bring up the past or shame one another

Solomon said, “Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing…it preserves those who have it” (Ecclesiastes 7:11). Ask the Lord for wisdom with your finances. Seek to preserve or find unity. 

Topics to Discuss and Act Upon

  • Debt
  • Lifestyle
  • Financial roles
  • Goals: giving, saving, investing
  • Rent vs. buying a home
  • Children and education
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement
  • Passwords
  • Will/Estate planning
  • Location of financial and legal paperwork

You can get through this together. Many couples are helped by scheduling regular money dates to better understand and apply Biblical financial principles. Crown’s online courses are a convenient way to start growing a similar financial mindset. You might also benefit from working with a believing mentor or couple. Ask your pastor for recommendations or consider wise people you know. 

For an in-depth understanding of money and marriage, get a copy of my book, Money Problems Marriage Solutions. Here are 7 steps that helped me and my wife get unified and that I believe are critical to assist any couple to make financial progress: 

  • Be a Peacemaker
  • Understand Prosperity
  • Know and Fulfill your Purpose
  • Live by God’s Philosophy of Money
  • Love and Understand Each Other’s Personality
  • Create a Unified Plan
  • Establish a Process

Don’t let this ruin your Christmas. Blessings to you and your family. Let us know how it goes! 

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Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Money Problems, Marriage Solutions. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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