“Can we talk?”
This can be a scary question when it comes to marriage and money.
Oneness is God’s design for marriage. “Mine” and “yours” is laid aside, and in its place, “ours” is picked up. This is true for all areas of the marriage, including money.
Bringing up the topic of money is often difficult. Tensions sometimes rise at the mere mention of finances. The baggage of past experiences plus current difficulties can make these conversations full of emotion. Critiques and questions feel more targeted toward the persons rather than the numbers. This is why the majority of couples have or will argue about money.
But if you are to be one in your finances, if you are to be on the same page, moving in the same direction, a conversation must happen. Communication is a must. Without communication, financial challenges will only grow more daunting and the division between husband and wife more expansive.
When attempting to start a conversation on money, first consider the time and the place. The environment and context surrounding the conversation matters. Coming off of an argument or paying a bill is usually not the right time. Ideally, find a moment when you are already enjoying one another’s company, potentially outside the home.
Next, choose a non-confrontational conversation starter. “Let’s talk about your spending” or “Why don’t you care about our finances?” will not lead to an enjoyable and fruitful conversation. In fact, it probably won’t be a conversation at all.
Good conversation starters are future-focused. Focus on the “where” and “why” and let it lead to the “how.” I like generosity-based questions because they appeal to God’s design for us.
Here are few non-confrontational questions that may get your money conversation started on the right foot:
1. What are your financial dreams?
2. If we didn’t have debt, what would you do with the money we currently spend on debt?
3. If you could impact a group of people with your money, who would you want to impact?
4. Who is the most financially generous person you know? The follow up—“Would you like to be like them?”
After you ask, listen—I mean really listen. Let them share their heart. Don’t challenge or debate what they say. Just listen.
And see if they make the connection to your current financial state. If not, a simple question like “I wonder what it would take to get us there?” can open the floodgates, because now you are no longer talking defensively but offensively. You are not arguing about the past but dreaming about and planning for the future together.
God has designed your marriage for oneness. Pursuing it in all areas of your marriage, including your finances. Give generously, save wisely, and live appropriately—together.