This article was originally published at intersectproject.org.
You’ve read the statistics—money appears to be crushing our marriages. 70 percent of couples argue about money. 57 percent of divorced couples point to arguments about money as the reasons for their divorce. Fights over money are one of the leading predictors of future divorce.
It’s easy for you and me to read statistics like these and assume that money and marriage simply don’t mix. But is that right? Is it really money, on its own, that is breaking apart our marriages? Or is there something else, something below the surface?
There are over 2,000 Bible verses on money and possessions. While on earth, Jesus spoke on money more than any other topic. Why does God care so much about how we manage the money he gives us? For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). Money impacts and reveals the heart within each and everyone one of us.
So how does this apply to our marriages? Money is often not creating problems in our marriages; it’s revealing them. The problems we face in our marriages, the ones we blame money on, are frequently not financial, but are manifesting themselves in our finances.
What are some common challenges marriages face that are revealed in their finances?
Poor communication can create resentment, bitterness, and a lack of unity. Both the lack of communication and the way in which we communicate can injure our marriages and our finances.
Here are three keys for better marriage and money communication:
1. Change your language
Words are powerful. When engaging in money conversations with your teammate, variations of the words "my" or "your" are two of the most harmful words to your oneness. Now that money is a team issue, strive to use language that encourages cooperation.
We. Us. Our.
A budget is one of your most important tools to strengthen communication. Budgets force conversation. They get you and your teammate on the same page, moving forward in the same direction.
3. When in doubt, inform.
The money you or your spouse spend impacts both of you. So to avoid surprises, inform them. Maybe agree on a certain spending amount that requires both of you to be on board before making the purchase.
Sometimes, when a couple says that money issues caused their divorce, it really wasn’t about the money. It was because one, or maybe both, of them put themselves first. When a discussion about money took place, there was very little compromise. Instead of seeking out their spouse’s input, they simply did what they wanted.
The divorce was not about the money. The divorce was about a me-centric heart. Selfishness is worth fighting. Go to war with selfishness by pursuing humility. Through humility, be a guardian of your marriage.
If ever there is a relationship where trust should be present, it is marriage. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Don’t let distrust creep into your marriage. It will create a chasm between you and your spouse.
Intentionally build trust with your spouse. Make sure both of you have access to all accounts. Keep your word. Be truthful. Apologize when you are wrong. And forgive your teammate when they are wrong.
Be a couple that trusts one another.
None of us intentionally sets our hearts on unreasonable goals. But somehow, we convince ourselves that what is unreasonable is actually reasonable. As it relates to our finances, we can find ourselves expecting to one day drive a certain car, live in an amazing house, take exotic vacations and enjoy luxuries that are currently unattainable. And we let dissatisfaction consume us and our marriages.
So how do we combat these unrealistic money expectations that can divide our marriages?
It starts by being grateful for what you have been given. Remember, God is the provider of all things. You and I are not entitled to anything. And once people realize they are entitled to nothing, they become grateful for everything.
Next, focus on reality. Realize that many of the lifestyles you see are supported by debt, and it will catch up with them. Focus on reality, and don’t get swayed by the façade.
Then, spend some time with those who have less. Not only will your expectations adjust, but you will find opportunities to advance God’s mission through generosity.
Finally, place your expectation on God instead of money, which cannot be trusted. Place your hope on the one who will never let you down. Concentrate on his promises for you, knowing that he will make good on every single one.
Are couples really divorcing over money? Often, money is simply the place where underlying issues express themselves. So if financial arguments are prevalent in your marriage, consider if it’s money over which you are truly fighting. Or is something else, something deeper, being revealed?
Written by Art Rainer, member of the Summit Stewardship and Generosity Ministry Leadership Team.
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