Most of us are aware Jesus taught on money matters more than any other topic He addressed. I still find that fascinating. What is equally intriguing is that He never provided a financial budget for people when He spoke about finances.
Instead, He warned people to guard their hearts against the love of money, He encouraged them to be generous toward those in need, and He reminded them that they need not worry about having enough of it. But, there was no spreadsheet that He laid before them laying out a numeric game plan for the x’s and o’s of fiscal responsibility. Here’s how to talk about money and marriage.
How to talk about money and marriage
In working with couples over the years, when financial issues create conflict in the marriage, it hasn’t been surprising that mathematical issues rarely come up. Even when there is one person in the marriage who is more of a saver and one who is more of the spender, there are rarely arguments regarding math.
Nine times out of ten, it becomes much more of a relational dispute than anything. One person ends up accusing the other of being miserly or the other claims one is irresponsible. These are character claims, not financial ones.
Don’t start with budgets.
I believe this is why Jesus didn’t waste a lot of time talking about budgets. Not that He has anything against budgets. Scriptures have a lot to say about wise planning, and budgets can help give us direction in that regard. What they cannot do though is create a philosophy of finances or check our hearts regarding our relationship with money. This is where Jesus camped out on the subject. I think it is wise for us as married couples to do the same.
In order to establish a marital philosophy of finances, we must begin with communication. Like most conflicts that go south, it usually begins with a lack of effective communication. In order to effectively communicate about money in your marriage, you have to discuss the heart of the issue. It is a waste of time to attempt to budget together before you discuss the weightier matters of the heart, and develop a common understanding of your financial philosophy as a couple.
Look at what Jesus taught.
The way we do that is simple, we look to Jesus’s teachings together. Instead of initially spending money on books, workshops, and budgeting tools, I suggest first reviewing Jesus’s teachings and lifestyle in order to develop your own collective understanding of how you are going to relate to money as a couple. This is where we begin to check our minds and hearts with the mirror of truth. This is where our values begin to take shape and become more solidified. We cannot assume that we are on the same page as our spouse. It is imperative to verbalize our beliefs with them.
Seek alignment with your spouse.
This will make all the difference in the world. When two people come aligned on an issue that Jesus took so much time and effort to convey, it will radically transform the situation. It requires transparency, vulnerability, and accountability though. Having the courage and faith to assess your marital philosophy on finances seems big. I assure you, it is. But what is even bigger, is the pain and suffering that is created when we do not take the time to process it together. I pray that if you’ve never taken steps to do so, you would begin this week. It might just be the biggest payoff your marriage has seen.
Grace Marriage Mission
Review this Scripture:
I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. —Philippians 4:11-13
Find a moment to discuss your thoughts about money with your spouse. Consider questions like:
- What’s Scripture say about stewardship?
- How did your parents handle money?
- What are your views on spending? Saving? Giving?
- What are your biggest principles when it comes to money?
- What are your biggest priorities when it comes to money?
- How much can one spouse spend without having a conversation about it?
- How do you each think the other spouse is doing related to finances?
Nathan Thompson is marriage and family pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.