How long have you been married? When it comes to this topic, it doesn’t really matter. Whether you’ve been married for twenty years or twenty seconds, you’ve likely had an argument over money. Sure, it doesn’t always look like her throwing the frying pan at your head. Nevertheless, each of you looks at money and budgeting through different lenses. But how do you overcome budget disagreements in your marriage?
If you want your marriage to be successful, it’s essential that you get on the same financial page.
First, we’ll discuss some things each of you will need to know about yourselves. Afterwards, we’ll take a look at some practical ways you can work together!
Nerds and Free Spirits
According to Dave Ramsey, there are two types of people in this world: nerds and free spirits. In fact, he has a fun little quiz to help you determine whether you’re a nerd or a free spirit!
Believe it or not, we need both in this world. But what’s the difference between these two?
Nerds love to crunch the numbers. Furthermore, they could spend hours researching and digging into something new.
They look forward to opening up their favorite budgeting app and putting everything together.
When they present the budget to their spouse, you can almost feel the holiness radiating off of them. I give thee, oh grateful spouse, the sacred and everlasting budget!
Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme. Nevertheless, the nerd loves to manage the money and crunch the numbers.
They’re visionaries who like to set goals and stick to the letter of the law. Plus, once they commit to something, they do it with all their might!
But when it comes to the budget, they tend to forget about things like entertainment and fun money. Instead, they focus on necessities and future goals.
About Free Spirits
The free spirit lives to have fun! It’s not that they’re irresponsible, but they definitely don’t enjoy the grind of research.
When their spouse brings up the budget, they tend to shrug their shoulders and say, “whatever you think, dear.” They don’t understand the fascination with all the numbers and would rather do something more exciting.
Free spirits love to live their lives. For their budgets, they need to include things like coffee and entertainment. Otherwise, doing a budget is even more of a total drain!
Both Nerds and Free Spirits are Necessary
Believe it or not, we need both nerds and free spirits in the world of marriage. It creates a delicate balance between that ensures the nerd isn’t always a stick in the mud, and the free spirit isn’t wandering aimlessly. However, it can sometimes create conflict.
Without a doubt, I am the nerd in my marriage. When I create the monthly budget, I show it to my wife like I’m presenting the Holy Grail. It’s absolutely perfect! It reflects our future goals and dreams.
But then my wife looks at me and says, “What about going to see a play? How about my sewing supplies? Can I go to Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee?”
It’s a good thing my wife brings these things up. Why? Because I also enjoy going to plays, getting coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, and sewing.
Okay, I don’t actually sew. But I do enjoy my wife’s creations! Without her, I would forget all these things, nor would I have very much fun.
On the flip side, she needs me to help keep things in check and to be the occasional voice of reason. Sorry, dear, we really don’t need to spend $125 on shower curtains this month. Okay, it’s usually not that extreme. But the principle still stands that we keep each other in check.
However, even though both nerds and free spirits are necessary, the combination of the two can produce conflict. This is especially true when it comes to budgets. Therefore, you need to learn how to overcome budget disagreements in your marriage.
How to Overcome Budget Disagreements in Your Marriage
First, it’s important to note that it’s not easy to work through conflict. Relationships by nature are messy, especially marriages. That tends to happen whenever there are people around.
However, it’s possible to work through budget disagreements in your marriage with time and patience.
1. Have a Vision Meeting with Your Spouse
First and foremost, you must realize that you and your spouse are a team. This means you work together, not against each other.
Also, it means you need to get on the same page. One of the best ways to do this is to go out on a date and have a vision meeting.
Having a profound vision for your life is essential. When meeting with your spouse, ask some questions about where you want to be.
Think through questions like, “What do we want to do when we retire? How much do we want to give? Who do we want to help?”
Furthermore, be very specific in your answers and try to play out some scenarios. And go further than, “We don’t want to be broke and homeless.”
News flash: no one wants to be broke and homeless. Think through what kind of legacy you want to have.
From My Marriage
When I first went all budget-crazy, my wife truly hated it. She thought I was overly controlling and it drove her nuts. Of course, I hadn’t communicated my vision for budgeting.
Then we talked through things like paying for our children’s college, setting them up for success, and wanting to give abundantly in our old age.
We’ve also discussed a dream vacation to New Zealand once we’ve paid off the house!
The more we discussed our dreams and our vision for the future, the more we began to work together! And the less crazy I seemed.
2. Make Sure Both Spouses Have a Say in the Budget
Nerds, please make sure your free spirit spouse has a say in the budget! Otherwise, the free spirit will feel like you’re trying to exert control over them.
Free spirits, make sure you listen to your spouse and speak up if you disagree with something! Or else your nerdy spouse will think everything is okay and will become less understanding when you complain later.
To make things easier, here is a list of rules for each of you to follow:
Rules for the Nerd:
- Prepare the budget, but keep your spouse in mind as you do so.
- Listen to your spouse when they have disagreements
- Allow your spouse to contribute
- Don’t overwhelm them with all the facts and figures
- Keep it brief
Rules for the Free Spirit
- Show up for the budget meeting
- Speak up when you disagree with something
- Be realistic and reasonable with the budget
- Listen to your spouse, even if you think money is boring.
Remember, God made each of you uniquely. You both bring something good to the table. Therefore, work together to find the best balance for the two of you!
From My Marriage
As the family nerd, I elevated myself to financial holy-man status. I believed my budgets to be perfect and without sin or error. I expected my wife to go along with this.
Boy, was I wrong! She felt left out and like I didn’t care about her opinion. So, I decided to make a change.
I still prepare the budget, but I give it over to my wife to review. And you know what else? We actually talk about it.
She points out things that could use improvement and we make adjustments together. She even brings up things I didn’t think about.
As time has gone on, we’ve learned more and more about how to overcome budget disagreements in our marriage.
3. If you Haven’t Already, Combine Your Bank Accounts
Some people might try to kill me for this one. But I’ll say it. If you want to succeed with your marriage and finances, you must combine your bank accounts.
And yes, this is a hill I’m willing to die on. Don’t believe me? Here’s what the Bible says about this:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”Genesis 2:24
“‘and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.”Mark 10:8
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”Ephesians 5:31
When you marry one another, you become one. You’re no longer two, but one. One! That means you’re a team!
God put you together so that you can work together rather than separately. Are there couples who keep separate finances who do well with money? Maybe.
But studies show that combining finances makes for happier couples in the long run.
From My Marriage
We never really struggled with combining our finances. The week after the honeymoon, we opened up joint bank accounts. Subsequently, we closed our single bank accounts.
Having combined accounts has helped us to build trust as we have no secrets from each other!
4. It’s Okay to Compromise
This one’s going to be hard for some of you. But if you want to overcome budget disagreements in your marriage, compromise is crucial.
Nerds, just remember that your budget isn’t the law of God. There’s room for correction and adjustments. Find a way to meet in the middle so each of you can leave the conversation happy.
From My Marriage
One day, while sitting in my office and sipping on my morning tea, I got a notification on my phone. My wife went to Starbucks to get a coffee.
Okay, no big deal. The next day, ding! Another notification. She went to another local café.
Okay…then ding! She bought something at the sewing store.
What’s going on?! Doesn’t she know we’re saving to buy a car with cash?!
Not long after all the notifications, we sat down and talked about our budget. We then worked together to form coffee and fun money line items, with each of us agreeing on the amount.
This way, neither of us would feel stressed about spending a little extra. And wouldn’t you know it? Having a little extra spending money hasn’t hurt our car fund one bit!
5. Remember Your Shared Vision and Keep Moving Forward Together
Remember, as a married couple you’re creating a life together. It’s one of the most difficult and rewarding things you can do.
Also, this is about more than money. Money is just one of the many tools you can use to further your vision.
Therefore, have your vision in mind with every conversation. Are you going to have conflict? Of course! However, don’t allow conflict to steer you away from your vision. Hold each other accountable and move forward together!
From My Marriage
My wife and I sought a pastor for premarital counseling almost immediately after our engagement. It was one of the best decisions we ever made.
Of course, the pastor asked us the usual questions like, “Why do you want to get married? What are some of your fears?” And so forth.
We had our first session and then he gave us a homework assignment: to come up with a mission and vision statement for our marriage. That one threw us for a loop.
This became the best communication exercise ever for my soon-to-be wife and myself.
We searched the Scriptures together, talked about our dreams, and discussed the things we wanted to accomplish as one.
We still have that marriage mission statement hanging in our dining room! And everything we do is in accordance with that mission statement, including how we handle our finances.
Sure, new things have come up. But our core mission and vision have stayed the same.
You Can Overcome Budget Disagreements in Your Marriage
Tonight, turn off the TV, grab some ice cream, and have a heart-to-heart with your spouse.
Admit to each other your failures, but don’t point fingers at each other. It’s time to stop playing the blame game! Instead, start working together!
Each of you, whether your the nerd or the free spirit, bring something good and wonderful to the table. It’s time to take a look at how your strengths complement each other!
Remember, God designed you to fit together and to thrive together. Therefore, you CAN overcome budget disagreements in your marriage!
But only if you’re willing to do the work. Hey, no one said this would be easy. But anything worth having is worth working for!
And having an awesome marriage is more than worth the work!
Books I Recommend
The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller is THE BEST book on marriage I’ve ever read. This book covers a multitude of topics and ultimately highlights marriage as representative of the relationship between Christ and the Church.
Want to know what makes your spouse tick? The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is the book for you! This will help you analyze how both you and your spouse give and receive love.
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