The ministry of marriage and families allows us to share the best and worst times with couples. Typically, most couples experience the same challenges framed through different stories, but what is increasingly common is the lack of pre-marital counseling/ preparation. Couples tend to believe they know one another well and are madly in love and don’t have the foresight to pursue a class, program, or counselor to walk them through what needs to be addressed after the honeymoon living. Couples are often distressed because they didn’t have meaningful conversations before marriage. Money is in the top ten issues of couples in conflict.
Very sad and widespread is financial illiteracy, but that’s not the main issue. Financial literacy can continually expand. The primary problem is agreement and understanding how the money will be managed daily. There’s no plan because there’s been no conversation. Most often, it’s assumed. I recently had a conversation with a couple that had dated since college, lived together afterward, and married in the last two years. They bought a home and maintained separate bank accounts. The wife paid the bills before they were married, and now she has to ask for money to be deposited into her account continually. The tension is mounting.
Ask these questions
At the very minimum, couples need to have hard conversations and ask the questions:
- How will we handle money?
- How much debt do we have?
- What will be our budget?
Prenups have become increasingly common, so one of the most challenging conversations is:
- Will we combine the finances, keep them separate, or a combination of both?
Cornell University conducted a study entitled “Pooling Finances and relationship satisfaction.”
They found that couples who pooled their money were more likely to stay together. Couples who combined their assets referred to cash as “Our” money versus “My” money from couples who didn’t. They also found that couples who combined their money felt they were on a team, which promoted relationship satisfaction.
Communication is key
Also, couples communicating about money were more likely to avoid financial infidelity or withholding information or transactions from their partners, such as hiding purchases, cash, or accounts, lying about income earned, debt, etc. A poll from the National Endowment for Financial Education found 43 percent of adults have confessed to committing some form of financial deception. If you share a bed, you should be willing to share a bank account.
Financial advisors say that how couples handle money tends to vary, communication should always be a priority, and a formal money conversation should happen at least once a year.
Resources are available
“Money is an emotional topic, especially when there’s financial distress. The good news is there are hope and resources available for couples to expand their understanding of finances and unload the burden of being financially overextended. David Ramsey is well known for his teachings, Financial Peace. He provides a simple workbook and plans for couples to resolve and manage their resources.
Christians are often surprised when they discover how much the Bible talks about money. There are more than 2300 verses on money, wealth and possessions. Jesus spoke about money in roughly 15 percent of his preaching and 11 out of 39 parables. It was his most talked about topic. Why? I believe it was because although we need money for survival, it’s fleeting, and He didn’t want us to be enslaved by the lack or abundance of it on earth but rather to store up treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.
Live the Life South Florida exists to strengthen marriages and families through healthy relationship education, beginning in middle school through senior adults. We are educators, coaches, and pastoral counselors. If you’re looking for a clinical counselor or therapist, we are blessed to have many in the South Florida community. We’d be honored to provide you a list of highly qualified and reputable individuals. Visit livethelifesoflo.org
Read more articles by Lisa May at goodnewsfl.org/author/lisa-may/