MarketWatch, a website that provides financial information for investors, reported that the number one predictor of divorce is arguing with your spouse over finances. This is especially true if the tension builds early in the marriage. Writing for MarketWatch, Catey Hill noted that couples fight about spending habits, being dishonest about money, how to divide the bills, and their financial priorities.
One of the prevalent flaws I’ve noticed in marriages these days is the notion that each spouse has their own money. By that I simply mean their financial resources are not combined. They may have separate bank accounts, investments, expenses, and spending habits that their spouse knows little or nothing about.
Surely, when the Bible says a man and his wife are “one flesh” it must mean more than just physical union. Paul Tripp says, “One flesh doesn’t begin with your body, it begins with your heart.” It refers to the oneness and intimacy that couples share in life, not just the bedroom. For that reason, I believe it’s important that couples strive for financial unity. A good place to begin is agreeing on your financial priorities. Here’s a few things you might consider:
1. Agree to put God first.
When it comes to money biblical principles stand on their own. They have stood the test of time and transcend culture and governments. And when it comes to putting God first in your finances, there’s no better place to start than the tithe. The tithe is a way of acknowledging God’s ownership of all that we have and all that we are. Tithing is a discipline of faith whereby we honor God by being good stewards of what he’s placed in our hands.
Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. Proverbs 3:9-10
2. Agree to reduce spending.
Learn contentment by restricting unnecessary spending. The best way to do this is to agree to a monthly budget and stick to it. You might eat out less, resolve to resist all impulse buying, or even downsize. Pray before purchasing and commit to communicate honestly about your spending.
Ron Blue wrote, “When we know what our resources are and have planned how we will use them to accomplish our goals and objectives, our lives can take on the contentment of having made order out of chaos. Our frustration from having to choose among the overwhelming alternatives disappears, and we are freed from the pressures of the short-term, self-gratifying society around us.”
3. Agree to get out of debt.
Finally, if you’re in debt, commit to getting out of it. It may be time, as Dave Ramsey says, for a “plasectomy” by cutting up your credit cards. From a behavioral standpoint, the quickest way to eliminate debt is what Ramsey calls the “debt snowball”—where you pay off your debts from smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate. Make minimum payments on all your debts except the smallest—throwing as much money as you can at that one. When your smallest debt is paid off, apply the amount you were paying to that debt to the next largest debt, and so on.
Cleaning up smaller debts first provides a sense of accomplishment that gathers steam and frees up money to tackle larger debts faster (like a snowball rolling downhill). If you need help, enroll in Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Millions of people have gotten on the same page as their spouses and freed themselves from the burden of debt by following his plan.
Are you and your wife on the same page when it comes to your family finances? If not, I encourage to take the initiative and start the conversation. The way you handle money has a lot to do with the condition of your marriage.