I’ll be the first to say: Marriage. Is. Great!
I’ve been married for a little over four years now, and they have been the most beautiful and fulfilling years of my life. Our loving, all-knowing Creator instituted marriage, and I’m so thankful that He did! However, being married is not all back rubs and fancy vacations; it’s hard work! Just like living for Jesus, having a great marriage requires constantly dying to self and selfishness. It’s about learning to work together as a team with your husband to glorify God with your choices and actions.
Two of the top causes of divorce are financial disagreements and lack of communication. Unfortunately, when couples are dating and engaged, the critical step of discussing and agreeing upon how finances should be handled is often skipped altogether. It’s no wonder people begin to butt heads over finances after getting married. Becoming one is a lifelong process. Learning to live with someone — sharing your time, space, and resources — is something that takes lots of patience. This includes transitioning from a “my money” mindset to an “our money” mindset.
If you and your spouse have never had in-depth conversations about how finances should be handled, NOW is the time. Even if the fighting hasn’t begun and you’re not in a big financial mess, be proactive. One of the greatest things you can do for your spouse and your marriage is to communicate and get on the same page regarding finances.
Below are five areas of finance to begin discussing with your fiancé or husband:
- Joining Accounts. A married couple should be a team regarding finances — just like in everything else. Both spouses need to know how much money they have and where it’s going. Typically, one spouse is more interested in keeping track of the money. That’s fine, but the other spouse needs to be informed as well. Keeping accounts separate fosters secrecy, and secrets are like poison in a marriage. Openness and transparency, on the other hand, cultivate a climate of trust which is crucial to a healthy, happy marriage.
- Giving. Scripture is clear that we are to tithe the first 10% of our increase. This should be the non-negotiable minimum amount to give. In addition to the 10%, discuss with your spouse or fiancé how much more you should give. You can decide together what is the right amount according to your income and your priorities.
- Debt. Discuss and come to an agreement about how much debt you will have, if any, and how you will handle paying it back. I highly recommend paying off any debt quickly and living the debt-free life. I could give you many reasons why, but the important thing here is that you and your spouse agree on what is right for you. If one spouse believes it’s better to be debt-free and the other would rather have a car payment and a credit card or two, there will be lots of tension and arguing down the road. Figure out NOW what will work for your marriage and your family.
- Saving and Investing. Every couple needs to save something. Only you and your spouse can determine how much is sufficient. If you have little to nothing in savings, now is the time to begin saving for emergencies. If you have a comfortable amount in your savings account, the next step is to think about investing for retirement. You’re never too young to start investing for the future. In fact, the earlier you begin, the better off you will be!
- Budgeting. As I stated earlier, two of the top causes for divorce are financial disagreements and communication problems. By coming together regularly to work your budget (we recommend a minimum of once a month), you are communicating and agreeing about your finances. Also, setting financial goals (such as paying off a debt or saving for a significant purchase) and then working toward them together will strengthen and bless your relationship with your spouse.
There are many resources out there to assist you in getting your finances on the right track. Take a class or read a book together. If you feel especially overwhelmed, speak with a financial coach or counselor. If you are having issues agreeing on things and you feel you need help, there’s absolutely no shame in seeing a qualified marriage therapist. The health of your marriage and your financial future are definitely worth the investment!
Kristen Moore lives in Philadelphia, MS, with her husband, Dustin, and their adorable one-year-old daughter, Madalyn. Kristen serves as music minister at North Bend Pentecostal Church. She and her husband also serve there together as student pastors. During the week, Kristen is blessed to be a stay-at-home mommy.
In September of 2018, Kristen and Dustin started a family blog called Family and Finance, which quickly evolved into a financial coaching business. They are both passionate about helping people learn how to get control of their finances and serve and honor God with their money.
Follow Dustin and Kristen on Instagram at @familyandfinance