Are you rarely or never able to agree with your spouse when it comes to money? Is one of you a spender and the other a saver? Do you typically become frustrated, angry, or overwhelmed by how your spouse deals with money? Money fights are listed among the top reasons for divorce; don’t let that happen to you! These 3 money talks will help you communicate about money without fighting.
What Does Money Mean to You?
It’s almost never the dollars themselves that cause conflict; it’s the meaning behind the money. That’s why Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Although this applies to investing your resources in God’s work, it applies just as much to your marriage.
Before trying to figure out how to spend your money, take the time to figure out what money means to you, and what it means to your spouse.
Four money languages have bene described by Dr Kenneth Doyle, University of Minnesota:
- Driver: money means Success. Having money means you are competent, and adds to your self-esteem. Lack of money means you are in some measure a failure.
- Amiable: money means Love and Affection. You care most about relationships and people. Having money means you can express love. Lack of money means you feel hampered in your ability to show love.
- Analytic: money means Security. Money wards off problems. These individuals focus on planning and saving for the future. Lack of money means danger and chaos.
- Expressive: money means Acceptance and Respect. Money purchases the respect and admiration of others, and provides the ability to have relationships with desirable people.
There is no “best” money language: each of these money languages has both strengths and weaknesses.
Having an Amiable money language means you likely have plenty of friends, but you may end up broke if you don’t have safeguards in place. A Driver may accumulate wealth and external success, but end up very lonely unless you invest equally in people. An Analytic is likely to be well-prepared for tomorrow, but may fail to also enjoy and invest in today. Others may look up to you if you’re an Expressive, but you may be especially prone to debt and/or addiction if unchecked.
You and your spouse almost certainly have different money languages, and that’s a good thing!
Money Talk #1: Your Money Personality
You may immediately recognize yourself and your spouse in these money languages. If you’re unsure, ask yourself some questions such as:
- How do I feel when I have enough money?
- How do I feel when I don’t have money?
- What would be the worst thing about not having money?
- If I were to get some unexpected money, what would be the first thing I would do with it?
- What is my biggest weakness with it comes to money?
Ask similar questions about how your spouse sees money. Simply understanding your individual money languages will help you understand each other much better.
This is Money Talk Number 1. Schedule a time to talk about what money means to both of you. Do this before working on a budget, discussing your past spending, or deciding about any future plans. Remember, do your homework. And in your conversation seek first to understand your spouse. Spend as much time listening as you do talking.
Talk about those five questions listed above. See this as an opportunity to understand each other better, and it will make all the difference as you move into developing a money plan.
Money Talk #2: Your Money Goals
God has a plan for your money. And He has a plan for your marriage and family when it comes to money. When you see God as your Provider, and yourselves as stewards of resources He provides, it makes a difference when it comes to stress, anxiety, and conflict around money.
Even though God has a plan for your money, your individual values, skills, and goals when it comes to money are unique to your personality and marriage.
It’s time for Money Talk Number 2. Think about and talk about these questions together:
- What is the most important goal I believe we should focus on when it comes to money? (That might be something like getting out of debt, planning for the future, giving our children what they need, learning what God says about money, or something else.)
- What am I prepared to do to reach that goal? (That might be going through a Bible study about money, working more hours temporarily, cutting back on spending, researching insurance options, designating an amount of money for fun, or something else.)
- What is the most important thing I want from my spouse in reaching this goal? (That might be regular communication about money, allowing more money for fun, joining in a Bible study about money, talking with me before spending money, or something else.)
The goals each of you have for money are not likely to initially be the same. Listen to each other; both of your perspectives are important. You may want to make some notes as you talk about goals around money. Your money goals as a couple should be mutual. Both of you will need to be committed to these shared goals, and they will need to take into account BOTH of your money languages.
Money Talk #3: Your Money Plan
One of the best ways to view money in marriage is as a tangible expression of your goals and values, and an opportunity to come closer together in reaching those shared goals. Communication about money is one of the most practical ways to express, develop, and understand your shared goals as a couple.
Understanding your individual money languages and shared goals, NOW it’s time to work on a money plan – Money Talk Number 3. This is all about the action steps you’re going to put in place as a couple to move toward your shared money goals.
Need a better understanding of God’s plan for money and stewardship? Check out Crown Financial Ministries. Does that involve serious debt? Look into Financial Peace University. Need budgeting help? Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar budgeting tool may be what you need. Help is available, and that may be the first important next step in your plan.
When you’re ready to talk about details, talk about things such as who is best equipped to track your finances, and how much each of you is free to spend without checking with your spouse. Talk about how you will give, save, and spend.
Your money plan may change – frequently. You will need to have these conversations regularly, such as every month. See each money talk as an opportunity to pray together over your family and finances, and seek His guidance in your plans. You will both likely need to bend in places to take into account your spouse’s money language, and that’s a good thing.
Talking about money is a skill you can get better at. And it’s a vitally important part of learning to love well.
Your Turn: Do you see yourself in one of these 4 money languages? Do you see your spouse? What is the next money talk you need to have? Leave a comment below.
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