One of the most conflicting areas of marriage is finances. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised when this neutral topic turns into a debate.
According to the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, 22 percent of divorces are caused by “money issues.” With statistics this high, the financial interest of our marriage needs to be evaluated.
Generally, there is one person who feels secure in saving money while the other enjoys spending. The spender has the mindset of, “I can’t take it with me when I die” while the saver’s mindset is, “I am still alive and I find comfort in saving money for unforeseen events.”
While the disagreements regarding our finances will occasionally arise, there are preventative measures we can take to lessen the frequency and degree of the tension.
The most obvious is to sit down together and create a monthly or bimonthly budget. Write down all your bill’s and expenses. Take into account expenses you do not receive a bill for such as gas, food and clothing.
Figure out how much you usually pay for each expense and then add 10 dollars more. Estimating high and coming under budget is better than the alternative.
I have found some good budget sheets online. I prefer comparing several to ensure I have thought of every expense.
Creating a budget works especially well for the spender in the marriage, as it shows how much money has to be allotted for essentials and creates boundaries. Budgeting also helps the saver because there is a sense of order.
Some couples may experience tension while attempting to make a budget. This is normal and to be expected especially if financial issues have been a source of marital disagreements.
Another area of tension occurs when couples keep separate banking accounts. While this may seem like a good idea in theory, in the long term, there are issues that arise. Sometimes one of the spouses loses his or her job and no longer has money in “their” account.
I have heard good arguments about why spouses choose separate accounts; however, the root of the majority of them is fear based. When finances are combined, we are forced to look beyond “yours” and “mine” and look at “ours.”
When we look at “ours,” we also learn to work together toward common goals. If our marriage is separated in finances, how can we be united in our goals?
There are exceptions. If your spouse has an addiction (drugs, gambling, shopping, electronics) that is draining your account and you cannot pay the essentials, you may find he or she is unable to function responsibly having access to all of the family’s money.
In this situation, seek to find help for your spouse while staying firm, yet respectful. Explain that your spouse’s choices are harming you, your spouse, your finances and the marriage.
Also, you may have separate accounts for “fun money.” This is fine as long as the other spouse is on the account.
Whether the spouse uses the account is irrelevant. The purpose in this is accountability. It is too easy for mistrust to creep in when we have no idea what our spouse is doing.
Jeremy Roloff said it best: “Marriage is not a consumer relationship, it’s a covenant relationship.”
Remember you are a team in every aspect. Until next time, talk about your money!
Kindra Warner is a marriage group facilitator at Grace Christian Center in Killeen and a Herald correspondent.