To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.
If I had a nickel for every argument my wife and I have had about money, well…we probably wouldn’t argue about money! Can you help us get on the same page? We can’t even build a budget together, much less get out of debt.
Financially Frustrated With My Wife
Thanks for writing me. I saved your question for today since this is the day my wife and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. Our personal story as a financially dysfunctional couple is relevant to your question, so bear with me as I give you some lessons that I have learned.
We struggled for the first 21 years of our marriage to make any real financial progress, although it was not for lack of hard work or effort. We both tried, but it was the one area of our lives that we could not get united. Ann, my wife, had her beliefs about money and I had mine. We did not agree with each other, so we muddled along, frustrated and stuck. It was painful and threatening to our marriage.
While I can understand that you are frustrated with your wife, she is also likely very frustrated with you. Satan has probably caused the fights to wound each of you and prevent the very thing that needs to happen from occurring; which is for the two of you to begin to manage this problem together, united as one and working as a team.
Two are Better Than One
My wife and I have polar opposite personalities and for years I believed this was a disadvantage. I am extroverted; she is introverted. I like risks; she likes security. I like to talk; she likes to quietly think. I like to dream big; she likes detailed planning. The list could go on and on. You may be in a similar situation.
I did not believe it when God said in Ecclesiastes 4:9 that two are better than one. My belief was that if I could just get Ann to be more like me, then we could become a good team. But I was wrong. The Lord opened my eyes to realize that I was incomplete without her! I needed a total opposite to help me, not to frustrate me. The day I began to see her personality and differences as an advantage, everything changed for the better. I needed someone to think deeply, to consider a more secure option, to review the details and to balance my big-vision risk-taking!
Stop being frustrated with her and accept her challenges to your ideas, your plans, your goals and your methods. She is your God-given asset and you will grow and mature when you humbly begin to honor her input without arguing or getting defensive.
Practical Tips for Working Together
1. Get to the Root.
It is likely that the two of you have a very different philosophies of money. The budget will not work until you discuss what you believe about budgeting. We found our common ground when we determined that the Bible would serve as our guide for all financial decisions. This helped to unite us in our hearts before we tried to make plans and budgets.
2. Listen and Learn.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes; but he that listens to counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:15)
Wisdom comes from not just asking for counsel but learning to listen to it. When we learn to ask and listen to our spouse, we have a double win: we gain a more complete understanding of the issue and we preserve our relationship, especially if the financial plan does not work.
3. Know Your Strengths.
In our marriage, we are like a sports team. I am better at the offense (knowing how to earn or increase our income) and Ann is better at the defense (knowing how to protect what we have). By allowing her to manage our budget, pay the bills and keep track of our bank account, we are much better off than when I was in charge of it. It also frees me to apply my strengths to ensuring we have income and proper investments.
4. Stop Fighting Each Other
Couples that recognize Satan’s trap of causing fights over money learn to apologize quickly to interrupt the evil that harms unity. When we apologize and admit we were wrong, we can use our energy to fight the financial problems together. Imagine trying to put out a house fire and arguing over where or how much water you may need while the home burns to the ground! This is what Satan wants. It is far better to work together putting out the fire than to watch it burn as you bicker about getting your own way.
5. Pray about Finances.
Begin the New Year by praying together every day about your financial goals and dreams. Take a long walk and pray aloud. Take turns asking the Lord to help you to manage money His way.
6. Get Biblical Wisdom.
Take a Crown class together. You can do this online. Agree to read the Bible and know what it says about managing money so it becomes your guide.
7. Follow the Crown Money Map.
This simple guide will keep you on track. Financial issues are never solved overnight. The Money Map will be a reminder of the next step as you make steady progress.
God transformed my wife and me from a couple in a situation very similar to yours into a couple able to work together on financial issues. For the past eighteen years we have been united, trying to obey God’s principles in our finances. Not only has the Lord radically changed our financial picture, He has changed our marriage. So today, our 40th anniversary is a day of special joy for us.
When I asked her how she wanted to celebrate this milestone anniversary, Ann asked that we rent a house big enough where all of our children and grandchildren could be together for 3 days to simply enjoy each other’s company. No big vacation cruise or jewelry or lavish spending – just a simple time to share love and enjoy our real treasures. So that is where we are right now; in a rented vacation home in middle Tennessee, rejoicing for the miracle that God has performed in our hearts and the joy of being able to invest our lives in our children and in others.
My prayer is for you and your spouse to have that same joy.
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.