How do we navigate financial problems in marriage?
Financial issues in the early or later years of marriage can be a source of discord. But rather than allow challenges to drive a wedge between them, a couple can chose to cleave and weather the storms together.
My husband and I hit a huge financial low in our first year of marriage.
I quit my job of seven years three months to our wedding. Four months after the wedding, my husband was laid off. It took another year before we were back to our feet again.
The nature of difficulties is to make us inward focused (selfish), rather than outward focused (nurturing and caring of another).
So for the couple who want to grow together as apposed to drift apart during financial stresses, intentional habits and actions must become part of their relationship DNA.
To successfully navigate lean financial times, a wife needs to remember the following about financial difficulties in marriage:
I’ll speak from a wife’s perspective but the lessons apply to husbands as well.
6 tips to help navigate financial problems in marriage
1. Remember: Your husband is not your source
Difficulties tend to surface our silent beliefs and expectations. Financial challenges often reveal how we wives look to our husbands to provide.
Nothing wrong with expecting our guys to take care of us but we are talking about our deep seated need for security and how we expect our men to provide and soothe in ways that only God can.
So we must learn to take our needs to God first; our guys are human and sometimes they will run into walls and we can’t expect them to knock them down super-humanly. That is God’s realm.
The hardest adjustment is often that of the heart; to love your husband like he’s the best gift but also realize he has his limits; gaps he was never meant to fill to begin with.
But once you have begin to have your heart right, your mind and emotions begin to follow and you begin to have peace.
2. Practically: Manage your household
I struggled to adjust my spending habits, because I had been independent for so long.
But during our season of financial stress, I quickly learned that flinging the “I know God will provide” line to excuse uncontrolled spending wasn’t a good idea.
As wives, we must be realistic about our situation, even as we trust God to provide.
Discuss things with our spouse instead of hiding and making assumptions. Be humble; it’s okay to eat rice and beans more than two days a week (look at it this way, you have something to eat!)
Cut out excesses. Pair down.
And don’t attempt to keep up with your girlfriends!
3. Encourage: Lift your husband during a financial crisis
As a wife, this is not the time to be on auto-pilot with your words.
I know that sometimes as women we are not trying to discourage our husbands, just thinking aloud.
But “innocent” words can leave a man feeling terrible about his inability to provide.
And it’s not just about the things we don’t say, but also about the things we say. We must be intentionally thankful for things our spouse is able to do. Be their cheerleader. Stay sensitive to their feelings.
Remember; negativity does not beget positivity. See 6 things wives do that hinder communication in marriage
4. Keep: Nurture connection during financial difficulties in marriage
Finances are a huge thing in marriage but they are not everything.
Don’t shut down because things are tough; don’t allow yourself to drift and withdraw from your beloved.
Don’t mop all day and give him “the face of despair” when he walks through the door. I am not saying you hide your emotions. But when you walk in the revelation of # 1, you will have strength for every moment.
Try and get creative. Suggest cheap dates, fun things to do together that don’t cost much, if at all. Purpose in your heart to draw closer, to connect. Go out of your way to keep a positive cheerful atmosphere in the home.
At the end of the day you are partners, for better and for worse. Purpose to navigate financial problems in marriage as a team. (See Husband is discouraged? 9 Ways You Can Help.)
5. Learn: The money and relationship lessons
Real love happens in the pits, not plains; sometimes the best lessons are learned in the dark.
Challenges can stir us from our cocoons of comfort and inspire us to take the next step.
Instead of complaining about where you are, learn something. Budgeting, commitment, better communication, self control are good lessons to draw out if we intentional about it.
6. Graciously: Accept help, if it’s there, but always remember to guard your relationship.
Sometimes people want to help but want to do so with strings attached. I guess it’s the same way an investor would want to monitor his investment.
But marriage is different.
As a wife, understand who comes first – God, then your husband. Don’t allow “helpers” to walk through the door of your marriage and call the shots.
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