Newlywed couples attract marriage advice the way bright lights attract moths – effortlessly.
It becomes important for a newlywed couple to develop the skill of discernment; learning to differentiate great advice from the not-so-great.
And even more important, learning to uncover the story behind the great advice they choose to keep.
In this post, we are going to look at four facets of financial unity for a newlywed couple.
The Bible says
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” Psalms 133:1,3
Unity is at the heart of a thriving marriage.
A unified couple will not only receive blessing, but life forevermore.
But here’s another thing; the Bible instructs us to seek understanding.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7b
The truth is, how long and how well a habit serves you depends on how well you understand the principles behind it.
In other words, while it is good to know what to do (seek unity) it is important to understand “Why” it is good.
The folly of chasing appearances
As a single girl, I heard it was important for married couples to open a joint account to encourage financial accountability and unity.
As my wedding approached, the song playing at the back of my mind was “good couples keep joint accounts. Spouses with something to hide resist it.”
By the time we said our vows, I was without income, having left a seven year job, three months to the wedding. Four months after the wedding, my husband was laid off work.
We barely had enough to live on for months on end, let alone put in a bank account.
He eventually got a job and I continued running our little side business. It turned out my name could not be added to his salary account.
And adding him to our new business account would have complicated our little venture.
So there we were; newlyweds, no joint accounts, no money anyways.
But the song, separate accounts = discord in the marriage continued to play in my head.
Yet there was no discord in our marriage. We were talking. Discussing sales and margins and budgets of the business. We were planning, sharing the same goal, striving towards the same thing, working, together.
But still, I stressed.
Because the outward show had become more important than the principle. The principle, or the why, was financial oneness, and we had it. Even without the habit.
I have since learned that I am not the only bride with the tendency to ignore what is working when it doesn’t fit with her ideas.
So let us take a deep-dive into the four ways a newlywed wife needs to adjust her mindset; four mental shifts to help you cleave financially.
1. Harness the waters
I’ll start with a question – why do you want financial unity? Why do you want to be on the same financial page with your husband? You must start there.
When people think about the fruit of financial unity, they envision peace in the relationship, a more secure future, being able to take care of the bills, take care of kids or sibling.
Maybe you want to save for a house or a new car. These are noble things.
But think about it; some couples have attained all these things, but harmony still eludes them. They’ve hit high financial goals but cannot see eye to eye on most things.
Many have “gained the whole world,” but feel lost in the soul of their marriage. So again I ask, why do you seek oneness financially?
Hopefully, your answer is found in Mark 10:7- 8
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”
We crave oneness of mind and heart because God created us to want it. Marriage is not an institution for pooling money and skills together, it is a place where two people unite to achieve Gods highest purpose.
Friend, that purpose is knowing God and making Him known.
For my husband and I, our “Why” is the Kingdom. We seek financial oneness because we recognize we are stewards of God’s resources. That awareness has been a game changer.
At this point, I want to invite you to take some time and identify your higher “Why.” Beyond savings, beyond peace in the house, beyond taking care of bills, why do you think God desires you to be of one mind and heart?
Goals are wonderful. Being able to knock off a couple feels great. But at the end of the day, are they rooted in God? Like we said, how well a habit serves you depends on how well you understand your “Why”
2. Plug the leaks
As I type this article, I am trying to remember a time my husband and I had serious disagreements about money and I can’t think of a single one.
We haven’t had a serious spat. And not for lack of opportunity.
We’ve gone through job loss, serious business failure, a relocation that brought us to our knees. Through it all, we’ve maintained unity of thought. We’ve had hard conversations, yes. Fits, row, rage or secrets, none.
I attribute our plodding together to plugging the leaks before they broke the dam. We learned to address heart issues before they became money issues. The leak I am talking about right now is trust.
If I trust my husband, I’ll be open to his ideas because I believe he has our best interests at heart.
If I trust my husband, I will trust the processes we put in place and not fuss, manipulate or try to knock them down.
I will also understand these practices and habits are meant to help us achieve our great “Why” (building Gods kingdom), and they do not, in themselves, change hearts.
Opening a joint account will not make me less secretive if secretive is my nature. Drawing a budget will not help me become more disciplined if I am irresponsible.
Secrecy, indiscipline, chaos are not money issues. They are heart problems.
Remember – Don’t use systems to try and change the heart of a person. Instead, back up and ask God to show you the heart of the matter. Then plug those leaks.
3. Loosen the strings
We all bring our own unconscious ideas about money into marriage – who makes it, how it’s distributed, when it is distributed, to whom it is distributed, how much comes back, etc.
And we get piped up, completely forgetting there’s another person who feels just as passionately about his own money beliefs as we do ours.
But here’s the biggie – beyond what you and your husband think about money, there’s what God thinks about money. There’s how He intends to get that money to you. And when.
You need to adjust to that.
If you would have asked me years ago how I pictured my life in my late thirties, I would have painted a glorious picture of two or three kiddos, multiple businesses, world wide influence and an established non-profit doing amazing things around the world.
But I am in my late thirties now – like the tail end of – and things look different; no kiddos yet, not-so-big ministry, small business.
Now, I am grateful and consider my life glorious. But its different. I have learned, and still learning, to move to Gods rhythms of grace.
Here’s the takeaway – God is a good God. He delights in giving good gifts to His children. But often times these gifts take time to get here. And He has a reason for it.
If life doesn’t pan out exactly as you hoped for, loosen the strings. Don’t sacrifice your marriage over financial plans and dreams.
Maybe he can’t get a job as quickly, can you live with the “adjustment” of being the primary income earner without griping and comparing?
Maybe he’s an entrepreneurial risk taker while you hoped for the steady beat of employment, are you willing to trust God, support him and pray for him?
Maybe you expected to be further ahead than you are today, are you willing to still trust God, still do your part and trust Him with the rest?
Remember – your biggest responsibility as a married couple is not to chart your own course, but to figure out where God is and follow Him. Tap into Gods larger dream and grow as you go.
4. Adjust the sails
While we have emphasized the importance of the principle thing, not just habits, habits are still important.
So what happens when one of you or both of you, just can’t wrap their mind around good money habits? Maybe he’s the spender, and you’re the saver.
Or maybe you have a little bit of spender and saver in both of you (my husband and I do.) Maybe your husband will hear nothing about accountability or openness. Perhaps you struggle with budgets and plans.
Here are a few tips to help you get to smoother seas;
- He may be wrong in his views, but you are still responsible for yours.
How you phrase a discussion determines your destination; if you will find yourselves in smoother seas or logged to rocky shores. You are accountable for your emotions and how you approach the issue.
- Faith is good, but only when it is yours.
Don’t force him to hop on his bad leg. If he’s bad at technology, on-line solutions (e.g. budget Apps) might not be your answer. Ask your spouse what works for them.
Then adjust to their idea, instead of trying to pull them into yours.
- Low is better.
If your spouse is not on board (or you are not), be okay starting with a few low goals.
Proposing he gets rid of his fuel-guzzling truck because you need the savings might not be as well received as say “hey babe, what do you think about cutting down the number of weekly take outs?” Don’t be overwhelming.
- Remember your “Why”.
Writing this post has reminded me why I need to be on the same page with my husband. We love positioning ourselves for His use. It is an incredible feeling and mind-blowing opportunity.
I have spent about 4 dollars on coffee and a cookie as I write from Panera Bread. After receiving the receipt, I updated our budget App (called YNAB, which we recently started using after recommendation from a friend..thanks Linda!)
Immediately I was struck by how little we have left in our eating out account! And its only the middle of the month!
I feel the squeeze and adjustment as we double down on our spending, but when I remember our “Why”, it all comes together and I find peace.
When you feel like giving up on your financial oneness, go back to the “Why”. Guaranteed, it will keep you going.
Question – Have any of these points hit your pain-points? Does it make sense? I really struggled as a new wife, and eight years on, I am still growing. I would love to hear your thoughts. What is working for you and your husband? Let us talk in Comments.
And if you want to learn how my husband and I navigated and found peace in our finances and other areas of marriage (like communication, sex, expectations, work e.t.c) pick up my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years. I wrote it specifically for the newlywed wife who longs for a great marriage but struggles to develop the needed mindset and habits. Find out the details, including the purchase links, here.
And a Happy Thanksgiving to you, my US friends! I hope you have a wonderful and blessed time with your family.
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