Tired of Clashing Over Cash?
By Janel Breitenstein
When my husband and I married, we designated yours truly CFO. Every month, my heart accelerated as I reconciled our poverty-line income with a pile of receipts. I despised worrying over every expenditure, playing the killjoy if my husband wanted to catch a movie.
Years and some guidance later, my husband—and his aptitude for financial planning—took the helm, rescuing me from a heart attack at 30.
When he’s working on our finances, I fall in love a little more.
Resolving tension around money wasn’t actually about how much money we had (or didn’t). Like time or sex, money amplified our marriage dynamics.
How “one flesh” (Matthew 19:5) are your finances? Here are five tips for when money threatens to separate you.
1. Appreciate your spouse's values as legitimate.
Define your individual money personalities (like saver vs. spender). “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Money conflict = different treasures (maybe independence, security, approval, comfort, power, control). Working as a team keeps healthy desires from swelling into idols.
2. Gather buy-in on mutual goals.
You likely share common values: to be out of debt, save for something valuable, find financial freedom, or manage God’s money well.
3. Talk about money problems.
Make a list of your three biggest money issues; set a time to chat. Come with a prayerful, problem-solving mindset of teamwork rather than fear or mudslinging.
4. Divvy up responsibilities according to strengths.
My administrative abilities and schedule flexibility make it easier for me to take care of the one-offs—car registration, medical copays. In budgeting, I’m most aware of certain household needs; my husband knows how much we need for car repair.
5. Consider past financial pain and future rewards as motivation.
What’s that moment you can’t wait for (maybe your last debt payment)?
Financial management means financial freedom—from taking out fear on each other, the slavery of debt, keeping up with the Joneses. It’s managing money rather than money managing you.
The Good Stuff: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” (Luke 16:10)
Action points: Think through these questions, too:
- What inner purposes does money serve for each of us? How do those inform why we spend or save?
- How do my spouse’s values enhance our family?
- How does my money style create loss or vulnerability? (Penny-pinching could, say, steal from freedom, joy, and carefree memories.)
- How have our clashing desires damaged our relationship, especially around trust and honesty?
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