Myth: My spouse and I shouldn’t talk about money because it only leads to fights.
Truth: You can’t have a great relationship until you can communicate and agree about money.
Larry Burkett, noted financial author, says, “Money is either the best or the worst area of communication in our marriages.” After years as a financial counselor and working with marriage counselors, I know that money and money fights are a major cause of divorce, not to mention the thing we fight about the most.
So if you are married and have money fights, you are normal. But if this is a real problem area for you, there is also an opportunity to improve your relationship and maybe even reach agreement with your spouse. I’m not talking about agreement brought on by surrender, but rather by each person getting a vote, understanding the other’s view and finding common ground.
Let’s face it – if we can agree on the checkbook, there would be nothing left to fight about except who gets the remote!
Men and Women are Different
When it comes to money, men tend to take more risks and don’t save for emergencies. Men use money as a scorecard and can struggle with self-esteem when there are financial problems.
Women tend to see money more as a security issue, so they will gravitate toward the rainy-day fund. Because of their need for security, ladies can have a level of fear—my wife, Sharon, calls it terror—when there are money problems. Men and women are different in how they view money, and it is largely because they process problems and opportunities from different vantage points.
On top of the fact that men and women are different, opposites attract. Chances are, if you’re married, one of you is good at working numbers (the nerd) and the other one isn’t good at working numbers (the free spirit). That isn’t the real problem. The problem is when the nerd neglects the input of the free spirit or when the free spirit avoids participating in the financial dealings altogether.
Marriage is a Partnership
Marriage is a partnership. The preacher said, “And now you are one.” Both parties need to be involved in the finances. Separating the money and splitting the bills is a bad idea.
Listen up, nerds. Don’t keep the money all to yourself. Don’t use your “power” to abuse the free spirit. Free spirits, don’t just nod your head and say, “Yeah, that looks great, honey.” You have a vote in the budget committee meetings, too. Give feedback, criticism and encouragement. Work on the budget together!
“But what if my spouse won’t get on board with me?” many of you wonder. It is tough, but with patience and kindness, your spouse will eventually see the light (don’t beat them over the head with the need for a budget, and please don’t subject your spouse to a lecture of “Dave says…”).
As you work on your money together, you will begin to change your family tree. One of your main goals in your marriage should be to pass a legacy down to your children and grandchildren.