I am just beginning on my mission to get out of debt, live more simply, and find happiness with the bounty that I have before me. I feel inspired and motivated and have put together a rough plan about how to accomplish this. My problem is getting my family on board.
My husband falls victim to “needing” the latest gadget, random shopping trips, and keeping up with the neighbors’ latest toys. I take care of the budget and bill paying but I don’t want to treat him like a child and control all of his spending. How do I get everyone on board with living a simple and happy life? -Stephanie
This question is something that comes into my email in various forms on an almost weekly basis — and my heart goes out to all of you who are struggling to get on the same page with your spouse financially.
I’m not a marriage expert and I’ve been blessed with a husband who is goal-oriented and a bit of a nerd when it comes to spreadsheets (I use the term “nerd” endearingly!), so I can’t guarantee that I have any brilliant words of wisdom to offer. But we’ve had a number of other areas where we’ve not always seen eye-to-eye on in our marriage and here are some things I’ve learned — mostly the hard way!
1) Nagging Doesn’t Work
If you want to ruin your relationship, start trying to nag and drag your spouse along with your latest and greatest ideas. It’s a recipe for disaster — and discord.
2) It Has To Be an Us Thing, Not a Me Thing
There is no “I” in team. If you want to successfully get on the same page, it has to be a game plan you come up with together.
Don’t expect your spouse to jump on board with you. Instead, ask your spouse if you can sit down together and talk about where you both are financially and where you both want to go together.
3) Compromise Is Key
When you sit down to discuss your finances, come with an open mind. Don’t have everything all mapped out and badger your spouse into signing off on your plan.
Share your concerns in a gentle manner and then listen to your spouse’s thoughts and concerns. If they see that you genuinely want to work with them and want to hear their heart on the matter, they are going to be much more apt to join you in the journey. But they will likely resist from the get-go if you don’t seem to care about their desires and or have any willingness to compromise.
4) Give Grace — And Some Breathing Room!
In most marriages there is one spouse who is more of a spender and one who is more of a saver. In our marriage, my husband is the spender and I’m the saver.
For me, I’d be pretty much fine with rarely ever spending money. However, I’ve learned that my husband is happier when he has a little breathing room in the budget.
But instead of our opposite natures causing a lot of conflict, we’ve actually helped balance each other out. Since being married, my husband has become more frugal and careful in how we steward our money and I’ve learned to lighten up and learn to enjoy life a little more.
Because of our different personalities and natures, we’ve found a beautiful compromise in an agreed-upon blow category in our budget. We each get an allotted amount of money that we can spend on whatever we’d like, whenever we’d like. This set-up has worked well for us and prevented many unnecessary arguments over money.
When we both accept our differences, agree to compromise, set goals for our family together, and give each other grace, we have so much more unity. And this unity propels us to both be working together to wisely steward our money — instead of constantly fighting and bickering over stuff that really isn’t going to matter too much in 25 years from now.
For more suggestions, check out my post on How Can We Improve Communication About Finances In Marriage?
I’d love for the rest of you to chime in with advice and suggestions for Stephanie. What has worked to help you improve communication about finances with your spouse?
photo from BigStock