Why understanding your money philosophy could save your marriage

Ask married people about their financial problems, and you’ll likely hear a list of issues:

“I’m not sure I’ll ever be debt-free”

“I’m sick of living from one week to the next”

“I will never have enough savings to buy a house”

“If my husband (or wife) would stop spending money, we wouldn’t be so stressed all the time”

Common financial issues are;

  • struggling to get out of overdraft or pay off credit card debt,
  • making it to the end of the month, or
  • unable to retire due to a mortgage that has not been paid off.

These concerns stretch across religious, ethnic, and gender differences.

For many, mixing money and marriage is like oil and water…they just don’t go together. Finances are a leading cause for divorce, the delay of marriage, and not getting married at all. Try to find a couple that hasn’t ever disagreed about money.

My marriage was no different. My wife and I spent 21 years of our marriage in disagreement about money. We had arguments, ongoing stress, and made mistakes because I didn’t agree with her and she didn’t agree with me. I was the spender, she was the saver. We loved each other, but were far from being unified when it came to our finances.

So why is it that when it comes to money in marriage, we have such a hard time getting on the same page?

Well, in a word: Philosophy.

If you had told me during those first 21 years of my marriage that my wife and I need to talk about “philosophy” to get on the same page about our money, I would have rolled my eyes and shrugged it off. “Philosophy” was just something stuffy old professors cared about and it didn’t apply to me, my marriage, or my money.

The turning point in our marriage came when my wife lovingly convinced me to join a Crown Financial Ministries Bible study. Talking about my marriage and finances in a group of other people sounded like just about the worst thing I could think of, but I went. And things started to change. One day, my wife gently asked me, “Do you agree with God’s teaching on money?” I said, “Yes. I agree with God.” She then said, “Good! If you agree with God, then I can agree with you!”

We quit competing about our preferences, and started unifying under God’s plan.

See, whether or not we know it, each of us have a philosophy about money. It’s not necessarily some lofty, theological mind-set that sounds like it came out of a university. It’s a compilation of our thoughts, ideas, plans, dreams, concepts, beliefs, and principles that together dictate our actions.

God designed us to act upon what we believe. So if we believe the wrong things about money, we are bound to behave wrongly as well. But, if we believe the right things about God, His plan, and His purpose for our marriage and finances, it will change everything.

Stated another way, the problem is not how much money you make, what’s in your savings account, or the amount of debt you have. Those are your behaviours, which are a result of your beliefs. The problem is the financial lies you believe. Disunity with your spouse occurs because you’re treating the wrong thing. You’re trying to put a band aid on a broken leg, and it’s never going to fix the real problem.

Healing happens when you align your philosophy with one another and Scripture. You and your spouse start speaking the same language. You start prioritising the same things. It’s no longer an attitude of “I’m right, and she’s wrong”. It’s “This is what the Bible says, and we are going to agree to live our lives according to this truth.”

To experience lasting change, we must embrace the truth of a new belief, then to act upon it to change our behaviours.

As it says in Proverbs, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”.

Chuck Bentley

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