Finances are consistently fingered as the # 1 cause for friction in marriage. We all know that, right? But here’s the kicker. Problems aren’t caused by lack of money so much as lack of respectful communication about money.
It’s not easy to avoid arguments about money. But learning how to communicate with love and respect may well save your home, your future, and your relationship. So use these 8 ways to agree on money in your marriage to get started.
1. Get on the same page: Develop a family “vision”, “plan”, or “mission statement.” If you agree on where you’re going, then you’re more likely to get there. So answer these questions to help you come up with your mission statement: 1. What is our main financial goal? 2. What are we willing to do to reach it?
2. Work out a detailed budget, together: “The devil is in the details.” Few people fight about the mortgage, their car payment, or the electric bill. It’s the $11.29 at Starbucks last week. The $23.46 for the impromptu lunch. The $18 to get my nails done. So attend a budget management class together. A great place to start is Financial Peace University.
3. Make decisions together, not unilaterally: Many money fights emerge from lack of shared information. Sit down and talk about your budget progress regularly so you both own the process.
4. Own responsibility for budget gaffes: Make sure you’re the first to say “mea culpa” (my bad). Set the example. Besides, the only person you can change is yourself. Once you do, the balance shifts and change is easier across the board.
5. Never “finger-point”: If you make your husband defensive, then you’ve already sabotaged the process. The name of the game is solutions, not blame.
6. Eliminate all financial secrets: Here’s the rule: If you don’t want to tell your husband about the expense, then it’s something you don’t need to buy. Same goes for him. That’s why the process must be open and honest. Period.
7. Commit more of your funds to charity: Generosity tends to put things in perspective. “Let’s give more to charity this year,” is an open invitation to cost-cutting elsewhere. Cost-cutting elsewhere tends to address problem areas first.
8. Initiate an “all purchases over $25 dollars require agreement” rule: Then, as soon as possible, make sure you’re the first one needing the nod from your spouse. See something you want impulsively? Get the go-ahead from your husband…or back away if he sounds cautious. Either way, you’ve demonstrated respect and commitment to the shared budgeting ideal.
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.