You’ve certainly heard the phrase that “opposites attract.” Most often, when choosing our spouse, we choose someone who is very different from us in some key areas. Finances is definitely one of those!
While not the case universally, it is quite common for two people with very different money habits to fall in love and get married. Have you found this to be the case in your home? It has certainly been that way for us!
Taking different approaches to finance in a marriage can be a good thing, but financial conflict can also be one of the more intense situations we find ourselves facing as married women. Is it possible to really find balance when you and your husband are different, perhaps even extremely different, when it comes to money?
I am definitely not a financial expert or adviser. My husband and I have learned some things the hard way with bounced checks, debt, credit cards, and too many big purchases, but because of the financial trials we worked through, we’ve been able to learn so much about each other and the best way for us to handle finances in our home. We are proof that you can find some sort of balance with finances in marriage, even when it’s hard!
Recognizing the Spender and the Saver
We tend to naturally take a “spender” or “saver” approach to finances. Some of us worry less about storing up funds for the future and are more concerned about short-term purchasing goals. Within the Christian community, I’ve seen the “spender” personality show itself often as a “giver” who tends to quickly spend money on others. The “saver” obviously tends to look at things in the opposite way. A cushy savings account, active investments, and frugal purchases make the “saver” tick.
Sometimes just recognizing how you and your husband tend to look at money can be helpful in finding balance if you tend to have financial conflict. For us, knowing who was the “spender” (and in our case, the “spender” tended to be a very generous “giver”) and the “saver” didn’t take much thought, but it was an important first step in finding balance!
Communicate and Learn Together
Isn’t this the hardest part? Communicating through differences and problems can be tough! When finances, bills, and bank accounts are thrown into the mix, it can be even more challenging. It might feel impossible, especially if only one of you wants to learn and find common ground.
So what can you do to work through the financial differences? Here are some things my husband and I found helpful:
- Use healthy conflict resolution skills: Just like in any conflict, and perhaps especially so with finances, we have to make sure that we are keeping both our thoughts and emotions and our words and actions in check.
- Talk about purchases beforehand: If you’re the “spender”, this may seem terribly hard. If you’re the “saver”, this might seem like an obvious move. If you and your husband can agree to discuss extra, out-of-the-ordinary, or large expenses before someone makes them, you may save yourself from a lot of future conflict.
- Admit weaknesses: For us, it helped with the “spender/giver” acknowledged that they needed to be more careful with how our money was being used. On the flip side, the “saver” had to admit that they tended to not be as generous as they could be and needed to fret less about finances.
- Learn together: There are some really wonderful organizations whose goal is to teach God’s people to use money God’s way. For us, we learned so much through a radio program that used to be produced by Crown Financial Ministries. (Would you think I was famous if I told you that I was live on the program once with a call-in question? Because I was, and I felt almost famous.) We also learned a lot from Howard Dayton’s book Your Money Map and worked a little bit with the online program that corresponds to the book. Learning together was truly a turning point for us in our finances!
- Remember you’re not alone: Most of us will probably go through tense financial times at some point in our lives. Many couples are working the kinks out of their marital finances, and many others have learned how to manage their money well and in a way that brings harmony to the marriage. Don’t despair! You’re not alone, and there is always hope.
Value Your Differences
Finally, I think that it can be so helpful to remember that there are wonderful traits that come with being a spender and respectable aspects of being a saver. The spender can be generous and thoughtful when it comes to gifts. He or she isn’t bogged down with excessive worry about money, and perhaps they just have a lot of faith in God’s provision. The saver can think long-term and find more economical ways to do things, and maybe has greater patience when it comes to waiting for something they really want.
Being a saver isn’t better, nor is being a spender. Keeping that in our minds can help us value the financial traits that our husbands have, even if the differences are still hard to work through. Find ways to compliment the way your husband uses money. Value his strengths and be willing to learn from them. Be faithful with your part, and trust God to help you find the balance that you need.
How have you learned to work with finances in your marriage? Is it a challenging area for you? Do you have a tip or resource that’s helped you with marital finances? Please share!