A few weeks ago, I watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory which featured a common relationship problem. I realize that this sitcom does not offer good relationship advice. In this particular episode, Penny and Leonard were arguing about money. They then went to Howard and Bernadette to see if they struggle with such things. As I watched each couple deal with their issues in such a dysfunctional way, I had to laugh at how common money problems are in a marriage. Finally, Leonard and Penny promised each other that they would not fight about money in their upcoming marriage. Again, I laughed.
Do you get nervous every time the bank statement comes to the house? Do you try to hide the credit card bills? Do you and your spouse fight regularly over the finances in your marriage?
Where does money rate on your conflict scale? On many surveys, money is in the top two or three of conflict areas in a marriage. In my office, money issues are talked about almost as much as any other issue. The topic of money might just be a symptom of more serious issues, such as someone being controlling or selfish and a lack of oneness in the marriage. (Each of those topics are for other blogs.) Yet, we have to deal with the money issue in order to get to the root issues many times. So let’s look at a few questions that will help in dealing with the big issues with money.
- How would you classify yourself when it comes to money — a spender or a saver? Is one of you a saver while the other is a spender? Are both of you spenders? If that is true, you will have major problems. Are both of you savers? Sometimes that creates problems, because one might be saving for the future while the other is just saving for the next purchase. Defining yourself is a good place to start when addressing the money issue.
- Do you have a joint account or do you have separate accounts? In our society today with both spouses working outside of the home primarily, many couples keep “their” money separate. I’m not advocating separate accounts or joint accounts. I’ve seen it work and not work both ways. The main question is “Do you agree on this issue?” Also, do both spouses pay “equally” toward the household bills?
- Do you have a budget? I know that many people believe that is an ugly word. Budgets are so restrictive. Budgets don’t allow for spontaneity. Budgets take too much time. You fill in the blank of why you do not like budgets. Yet, budgets are tools that allow you as a couple to work toward the same financial goals as well as to make sure your bills are paid. Budgets help you stay on track.
Talking about these three questions will help you as you move toward oneness in the financial area of your marriage. Being “one” financially will govern how you think about your spending as well as your saving.
Financial issues do not need to create problems for couples. The issues should become points of connection as you work toward having a covenant marriage.
How have you dealt with the money issues in your relationship?