When Financial Stress is Hurting Your Marriage
By Dave Willis
One of the leading causes of divorce is financial stress. We recently did a survey through our Marriage Facebook page asking readers what are topics they’d like to see addressed and many people shared that issues related to financial stress were some of the biggest sources of stress in their marriage. Some people were even reaching out in desperation saying things like, “Help! Financial stress is hurting our marriage. We can’t get on the same page and we don’t know what to do.”
Like most couples, Ashley and I have experienced the strain and stress of debt and the struggle to make ends meet at different periods in our marriage, and it’s exhausting! Thankfully, we’ve been able to implement the principles I’ll share below and it has brought an extraordinary amount of peace to our lives as a result. We want your marriage to experience that same kind of peace.
When a husband and wife are financially healthy, it brings a tremendous amount of peace and security to the relationship, but when there is stress related to finances, it can bleed over into every other aspect of life. The good news here is that even if you don’t have much money, you can be financially “healthy”. Financial health doesn’t have nearly as much to do with your net worth as you might think; it has much more to do with being unified in your financial plans with your spouse.
Every person’s financial situation is different, but there are some some timeless, rock-solid financial principles that will bring health to any marriage. We’v also added in some Bible verses that have helped us stay on course by providing timeless financial (and marriage) principles for us and countless others through the years. Here are five important ways to improve your finances and remove financial stress from your marriage (In no particular order)…
1. Don’t have separate bank accounts.
This one steps on toes every time we bring it up, but we’re firmly convinced it’s some of the best financial advice for married couples. A husband and wife are (or at least should be) united partners in every aspect of the relationship. Separate accounts make divorce easier and marriage harder. There might be some specific circumstances that necessitate separate accounts, but we found that more often than not, separate accounts create less unity and less communication around the finances in the marriage. For more on this, read my wife Ashley’s popular article on the Reasons Why a Married Couple Shouldn’t Have Separate Bank Accounts.
When one of your is a “Spender” and one is a “Saver” it can lead to a lot of frustration, but talk about everything. Develop a plan together. In marriage, everything should be shared and nothing should be divided. Everything you have (your money, your debts, your time, even your own bodies) should be shared with your spouse: “The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:4
#2 should probably be the first goal and top priority for a married couple’s finances…
2. Relentlessly Eliminate Debt.
Gaining debt is like gaining weight…it can add up pretty fast and it can be pretty tough to get rid of it! Take drastic actions to live with as little debt as possible. Debt can be a form of slavery which robs you of freedom, so fight to regain your freedom! The stuff you’re buying isn’t nearly as nice as the feeling of being free of debt! There are some great tools to help you get started at DaveRamsey.com.
“…the borrower is a slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7
#3 seems like a way to lose money, but it’s actually a way to gain joy and peace…
3. Make generosity a priority.
In our marriage, the best money we’ve ever spent has been the money we’ve given or the money we’ve invested in opportunities to serve others (like the picture from Casa Shalom Orphanage in Guatemala above). The happiest couples I know are also the most generous. Don’t strive just to improve your standard of living, but work together to improve your standard of giving! Misers end up miserable, but generous people end up blessed. Even if you don’t have much (or any) money right now, start finding ways to display generosity with your time, your talents and your resources, and you’ll be blessed as a result.
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
#4 is vital marriage advice and it could prevent so many disagreements in your marriage…
4. Communicate with your spouse about purchases and payments.
Don’t hide money or purchases from your spouse. Build your marriage on a foundation of trust and open communication. Talk about major purchases and show respect to one another through the whole process. Remember that money is a great tool, but it’s not nearly as valuable as your marriage, so keep your priorities in check. For more ways to build trust and communication in your marriage, check out our brand new FREE 31-Day Marriage Devotional.
#5 is something you should do right NOW…
5. Get Started (and then keep going).
If you want to improve your financial health, your first step is to take action. Don’t live another day with unnecessary financial stress your life. Take advantage of the tools available to you and begin to chart a new course towards financial freedom! Your marriage (and your whole life) will be a lot better off because of it!
If this article helped you, please share it so we can help others too!