Successful couples tend to have clearly communicated and defined financial expectations. This does not mean there’s only one right way of handling the family finances.
It does, however, mean that there are certain principles, which if followed consistently, will yield tremendous dividends — the most important one being peace of mind. How do we get peace of mind financially, given the unprecedented worldwide economic crisis we’re facing?
The answer is simple: United we stand — divided we fall! When it comes to making the money decisions in our homes, who’s actually in charge?
Is it the primary breadwinner? Is it the spouse who’s typically more aware of the daily needs of the family? Or is there a third option: making mutually agreed-upon decisions? In my years of counseling with couples, I’ve had the opportunity to observe up close their decision-making process in a variety of areas, including their financial.
In some marriages, all financial decisions fall to one spouse exclusively.
For example: “I make the money, therefore I get to say how it’s spent,” is one particular approach.
Or in reverse, “I make the money but I turn it all over to you, and I expect you to take care of all the bills”.”
This approach works for some couples for quite a while.
Unfortunately, when a decision is made that yields a financial disaster, all bets are off. The blaming game begins, and it can turn ugly very quickly.
Whoever made the bad decision stands accused of ruining the security and stability of the home, and the subsequent consequences can have a devastating effect on the marriage. Trust is eroded and at times, it may be years before it’s truly restored. Anger, feelings of betrayal and contention poison the marital relationship.
Let’s talk about the third option of making mutually agreed-upon financial decisions, especially major decisions.
Buying a home, a car, making investments, saving for college, and paying off debts would all fall under this category. Here’s the main reason why this is a must: If I make a financial decision without my wife’s support and it works out, I look like the “winner” and she looks like the “loser.” The sin of pride is not that far behind. But if I make the decision unilaterally and it backfires, then she has every right to let me have it, especially since she was against it from the very beginning. In either scenario we end up on opposite ends — and thus, divided we fall!
If we discuss and make a decision mutually and it works out, we’ll both feel great about the outcome. It brings us even closer together and makes our trust level go even higher!
The confidence that we share propels us to more mutually agreed-upon decisions, even in other areas of our marriage. Success breeds more success.
Sometimes it’s entirely possible that even though we’ve made a financial decision together, it turns out badly. It could be due to the actions of others (like a fraudulent investment), or because of forces beyond our control (like the stock market crashing).
Since we’re united to begin with, we can be united in our unforeseen outcome. At least there’ll no blaming going around, but more of a feeling that we’re in this together. As long as we stay close to each other and the Lord, we’ll be able to overcome it.
Finally, I’d like to address how the Lord can play a significant role in our monetary decisions.
What happens if we have a disagreement about a major financial decision like purchasing a particular home? The best way my wife and I have resolved this dilemma is by going to the Lord and praying about what is right. This may sound a little peculiar to some, especially for those not of our faith.
At first I found it uncomfortable myself, but over time I have come to realize and trust the answers I have received.
When I’ve ignored those answers, I’ve paid dearly — and I don’t mean just financially. When I’ve listened, however, it has always worked out. Standing united in our financial decisions will be a blessing above and beyond our financial successes!