My previous blog titled “Your Honey and Your Money” received such OVERWHELMING response, I decided to continue with it. I received so many emails, texts, phone calls, and Facebook inbox messages, I lost count. In fact, one email made me stop in my tracks and I realized that this was a major issue with marriages. Divorce over financial disharmony is so prevalent nowadays that you can file for a divorce over the internet and not even have to physically show up at a courthouse to file! That’s crazy! If I can help one couple with this blog, then mission accomplished.
Out of the ten most common causes for divorce, communication and money are the top two, while infidelity falls below them. Communication is listed as the number one reason, and money is listed as the number two reason, yet I believe communication and money should be listed as one. You can’t be successful if you separate the two. I am sure you have heard the saying “there is no I in team”. Marriage is a team of two. Now, I do not profess to be a sports expert but I do know that a team has to work together. I do know that the team’s communication on the court or playing field has to be clear, timely, and acted upon. You cannot execute a play from the team’s playbook without clear communication. Can you imagine if Phil Jackson’s commands to the Chicago Bulls sounded like Mush Mouth from Fat Albert or the teacher from Charlie Brown? If so, then Michael Jordan would not have been very effective in executing the plays. You can’t play the “silent routine” or “the bury your head in the sand” routine and expect to be successful when it comes to the playbook called “YOUR CHECKBOOK”.
yet, so many couples lack PROPER, EFFECTIVE communication when it comes to money.
I know some wives that are scared to bring up the subject of money to their husbands. I know husbands that are frustrated with their wife’s spending, yet fail to get to the root of why she spends like she does, or vice versa.
There is a root to EVERY fruit that you see in operation!
First, you need to recognize that your spouse IS NOT YOUR MOTHER! No one HAS to clean up your mess. YOU have to participate in your own rescue. Money can be the best area or the worst area of communication between a husband and wife. My clients tell me all the time that they would have a great marriage if it wasn’t for their financial disagreements. The truth is no marriage is great without communication on ALL levels (emotionally, physically, financially, or spiritually). Communication is key and financial communication is a necessity. You know how American Express’ motto is “American Express: Don’t leave home without it?” Well my motto is “Financial Communication: Don’t get married without it!”
I have three children and I drive this point home to them quite often, especially to my daughter. I have taught her that even if you truly believe that the Lord Himself tells you who you should marry, timing is everything. It could be the right thing to do, but at the wrong time. I told her there are two very important questions she should ask: how much do you own and how much do you owe! My grandfather taught me that “if he’s not bringing anything to the table then don’t sit down and dine.” At the very least, they should have a vision. People don’t change at the core of who they are automatically, even if they get born again. If you were terrible at balancing your checkbook before you got married, if you did not increase your financial education, even with Jesus, you will bounce checks! No amount of scripture confessing will change your outcome if you keep putting new wine in old wineskins. You have to do the work!
When it comes to money, men and women think differently, but they can still have similar financial goals if communicated correctly. From my experience of working with couples for over 15 years, men tend to take more risk and don’t like to plan for financial emergencies. Relating the situation back to sports, men tend to treat money like a scorecard, and their egos can be bruised if there are financial problems that arise. Women tend to see money through the eyes of security. They want to know that their kids are fed, clothed, and properly taken care of. They don’t mind saving for a rainy day or putting money aside for emergencies (for the most part). That’s why they “freak out” when there is not enough money to take care of everything. No money, no honey! Men and women process things differently. This is why you have to communicate about your finances so you can get an understanding of how the other person thinks, find common ground, and take action TOGETHER.
What is your spouse’s vantage or financial view point? When you are married, there is a strong possibility that one of you are better at handling the money and the other person could be perceived as the spend thrift. The challenge comes in to play when the spend thrift doesn’t communicate what they spent to the person that is more efficient with the checkbook or the person that is more efficient at handling the finances doesn’t properly take into consideration the viewpoint or input of the spend thrift. There is also the case where the spend thrift AVOIDS financial matters all together. So, MONEY ISN’T THE REAL PROBLEM, COMMUNICATION IS. When my clients that are couples meet with me, I listen to each person (separately) and it doesn’t take long to realize that finances are not the problem, but communication is. There are simple things you can work on when discussing your family finances like being clear in your communication, and not assuming that your spouse can pick up on your expectations by reading your silence. Be clear on your expectations and then come to a common ground; define what time frames you are working in and take action towards completing your goal.
BE Clear – Communication goes two ways: how the person talking is relaying the message of what he/she is trying to say and how the person listening is actually receiving what is being said. Is the only time you want to discuss the family’s finances when a check bounces or one spouse goes to the ATM and can’t make a withdrawal or they get up to the register and the debit card is denied? Have you guys ever set financial goals together?
BE Timely – Express your definition of what is timely. Timely is a relative term. Timely to giving you receipts in your mind may be daily, and your spouse’s definition of timely may be bi-weekly or monthly (hopefully this isn’t the case).
TAKE Action – What are you working towards? Success in any area is intentional. You have to intentionally plan for financial success.
The goal with this blog is to just get you talking and have positive communication about your finances. Have you ever asked the person how much they know about the banking system or investing? Have you ever asked your spouse what is important to them when choosing a bank or what type of saving account vehicle is best for your household? Have some healthy dialog about money other than arguing over the lack thereof. Maybe your spouse’s frustration is out of just simply not knowing and because you have never communicated about money other than fussing, you don’t know what it is that your spouse knows or doesn’t know about money. Don’t just assume that just because they are an adult that they already know. I spoke to a man recently that didn’t know how to open up a bank account (and he is older than I am). He was MARRIED and didn’t know what a secured account was or how to deface a check. I had a teaching session at 7:00 am one morning with someone that was gainfully employed, married and a father and yet what some would consider elementary financial education was missing from his knowledge bank, for whatever reason. So, the point I am trying to make is that we may not all start on the same playing field so communication is important, very important.
If you find that your spouse doesn’t want to talk about it at all, then change your approach. I am an avid reader. Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE TO READ. My husband didn’t have the same affection for reading that I did. When I knew I wanted to change our financial trajectory years ago, I couldn’t get him to read a book on money. I started reading him excerpts from books and stories of other couples while we were lying in bed at night. Actually, I can tell you the book that changed everything (as far as his interest in reading). I was reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad and as I was telling him, he started saying, don’t tell me, I want to read it for myself. Before I knew it, he was beating me in reading ALL of the Rich Dad series of books! I was lagging behind. So, it’s all in your approach. If I would have just said stop eating out, you’re spending too much money or why did you have to buy those tires, didn’t they have cheaper ones or better yet, do they sell used tires? My response would have been different. (lol, I know someone that would buy used tires, I’m not sure why though – I want good tires and good brakes.)
Until we meet again………