After years of working with pro athletes I’ve learned a thing or two about money and its effect on our behavior. These lessons apply to all of us. 1) Money has power because it promises what it cannot deliver. Meaning, money tends to let us down – no purchase or experience fully quenches our thirst. 2) Money makes us more of who we are. Our earthly desires often come to the surface in more material ways. 3) Money has gravity and the more of it you have the more force it exerts on pulling you into orbit around it.
I’m a financial advisor myself and it’s still hard for my wife, Ashlee, and I to talk about money. Ashlee and I aren’t immune to financial conflict. For example, I can easily critique Ashlee for the volume of Amazon and Target purchases I see on our account statement but then when I get a bonus, I feel “freedom” to buy new golf gear because “it was me” that earned the money. Sound familiar?
We bring the influences of social media, our own parents, conversations at work or rec center back home. Most of which lack wisdom. Often we randomly implement financial inputs from these resources and when things go wrong financially, we kick ourselves wondering how it was that “we got it wrong”. We ask, “What’s wrong with me?” We tell ourselves “Do what she did, avoid what he did”. We impress through our strengths, but we connect through our brokenness, and we’ve all made financial mistakes. I haven’t perfectly hit our giving goals. We’ve had seasons of carrying too much debt or not perfectly contributing to retirement. Let’s not get started on the money we spend at restaurants!
So how do we approach money in a healthy way in our marriage?
First, honor and respect one another.
You’ve read Matthew 19:6 “So they are not longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” There’s plenty of challenges in this life and money has been one of the main factors in divorce. Before you focus on implementing financial techniques, focus on having respectful understanding conversations with your spouse. God has given each of you to one another for a reason. It’s not a mistake.
Second, recognize the weightiness and importance of managing your money and not letting it manage you.
There’s a reason that Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Whether we like it or not, money has a material place in our lives, and we’re called to manage His resources well beyond a tithe. Be careful to live in any extreme. Talking about money all the time can bring unnecessary stress or idolization of its role in our life. Never talking about money is similar to the one who buried the 1 Talent into the ground and ignores His calling on our lives (Proverbs 27:23).
Third, seek God’s plan over the world’s.
The world gives us knowledge, but God offers time-tested wisdom. James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”. You are not alone. As a couple, pray together that God would bring confidence and clarity into your marriage. He’s ready and willing to be with you. Isaiah 30:1 “Woe to the obstinate children’, declares the Lord, ‘to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin”.
Do not pursue your own plans but rather submit them to God. The Holy Spirit will not lead you to violate God’s word. Luke 14:28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Our biggest mistakes and financial stressors have more to do with buying too much house or increased lifestyle and less to do with our investment decisions. Talk together! Where do each of you feel stressed?
Big Picture: money is weighty, confusing, exciting, joyful, shaming, etc. The best thing you can do as a couple is maintain respect and honor for one another and just start talking about it. That’s a great place to start.
Check out one of our podcasts on this topic here!