“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:4-6 ESV
The single most important attribute married couples can have when managing finances is unity. The best-laid financial plans will be thwarted when two people are not working as if they are on the same team. Here are some ways to build that kind of unity into your married financial life.
KNOW WHOSE MONEY IT IS
When you married your spouse, God entrusted you, as husband and wife, to manage His money.
Notice I did not say, your money. He has given you an earning ability, and thus He deserves your proper stewardship and care of this resource he has provided you.
KNOW YOUR MONEY PERSONALITY
In most marriages, one of you is a spender and the other is the saver. One of you has a natural ability for managing money, and the other has no idea how to balance a checkbook, or that money is simply a tool and does whatever you tell it what to do.
Financial expert Dave Ramsey calls this dynamic a marriage of “the Nerd and the Free Spirit.” Both need each other to balance each other out, and thus both must manage financial resources, together. An annual and a monthly budget are great and an absolute must, but there are financial situations which call for more detailed measures.
A good place to start: Sit down together once a week and plan out the upcoming week’s finances. Talk about your bills due on Tuesday and Wednesday, the birthday party you’re invited to attend and must purchase a gift for on Friday, or discuss the the new uniform your child needs for their sport of choice, looming with a Saturday deadline.
I like to do this with my wife on a Saturday morning over a cup of coffee. We keep all our bills on a shared calendar. We also continually add events to this calendar: birthday parties, dinner parties, our niece’s art show, grandparent’s anniversary, etc. This way, we’re not caught off guard and the event becomes a “financial surprise”. There are always excuses not to do this, but the financial management of our households deserves 30-40 minutes of your uninterrupted time.
DECIDE WHO’S GOING TO LEAD
But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3 NIV
Husbands: Your wife might be gifted in the area of money management, and she enjoys taking on the duty of overseeing the household finances. She may even do it vocationally where she is monetarily rewarded handsomely for her work. Quite frankly, you may be horrible at the administration of it all, and think you can take a backseat while letting your wife make all the financial decisions. However, as head-of-household, the responsibility of your financial house falls squarely on your shoulders. You are not allowed to be passive because it is not your strong suit. Get involved, lead, and make wise decisions. Fall under Christ’s leadership of your life.
Wives, let your husband lead. This may be a new concept for you, or perhaps something you used to do. But over time you found yourself financially leading your house. It can be scary and frustrating to reliquish control. Always lovingly point your husband to Christ’s leadership over him as well. He leads best only when He lets Christ lead him.
STRUCTURE FOR TRANSPARENCY AND UNITY
Build in systems that create transparency and unity. Don’t have separate or hidden bank accounts. The same goes for credit cards, investments, etc. Secrecy promotes division. When “your” money becomes “our” money, mindsets change. You begin working together toward your common goals. Both parties begin taking ownership and gain an accountability partner. Have challenging discussions about your money management. I said challenging, not accusatory — there’s a big difference.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV says: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken
There’s a famous African Proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Filtered through a Christian lens, this proverb is quite profound. A husband and wife can accomplish lofty goals by working together.
However, don’t forget the most important piece to your unity. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. The third strand refers to Jesus. He is the head and the anchor in your marriage trinity. Include Him in fixing your financial difficulties. Include Him in your financial hopes, dreams, and desires. Include Him in your financial planning. Include Him in every aspect of your life. Go with Him — together.
As we say at Grace often, “When we show up, God’s shows up.” Take the next step of money management with your spouse. Get help if you need, but take the step. Walk down the “financial aisle” together and experience unity and peace in your money.
Grace’s spring class for Financial Peace is starts on Feb 21st — it might be a great next step for you! Sign up here.