I have always heard that finances are one of the major points of disagreement and argument among married couples. Never, however, did I think that my husband and I would have disagreements about finances. I am very good at managing money! I do not spend in excess. Not to mention, I have been obsessed with budgeting and other finance-related subjects since I found a "how to get out of debt" book on my parents' shelf at the age of twelve. I am very smart with my money, therefore, there should not be any reason for it to become a source of contention, right?
Wrong. Apparently there is more to finances than living within your means and being adept at budgeting and such. It is not a lack of knowledge or ability to manage money that causes conflict about finances between me and my husband.
I have been managing the money for most of the time we have been married. We have had our share of conflict, the obvious cause of which has been partially due to the fact that we have been quite tight on money through winter, and had close to no money after bills each paycheck. As the provider, this lack of finances stressed my husband out because he felt like he was not providing for me well enough if we did not have enough money to go out to eat, fill the tanks of both cars, or do something fun such as going to a movie.
His frustration caused me to feel stressed, however, because I did not want him to feel that way, so I tried to budget in such a way that he would not notice that we were short on money. As a result, I skipped the savings and cut corners on groceries in order to free up some extra cash for fuel and fun. This kind of worked, but it caused me to feel even more frustrated when he said something indicating that he was frustrated with our money situation, because I felt unappreciated. I was putting aside what I would like to do with our money and he was still not happy with me...or so it seemed to me.
As a result of my husband's frustration at our lack of money (not intentionally aimed at me in any way), and my frustration at his frustration when I was giving him money to spend, plus the fact that I was not able to put money in savings (none of which I communicated to him), almost anytime we would discuss finances, it would be somewhat tense.
Most of our conflict could have been avoided if we had simply been communicating about finances. If we were to go over the budget together so that he could see how much money we had, and we could discuss together the best use of that. I was somewhat reluctant to do this partially because I did not want him interfering with where the money was going. If he had a different opinion of where the money should go, I did not to have to listen to his opinion and argue about why I was right. He did not want to talk about the budget because of the conflict that came up each time we did. Since the finances were doing alright, he was willing to let me do them and not bring it up (even though he was not entirely happy with not being in the loop), because he wanted to avoid conflict.
As I was reading my Bible this morning (currently through Ephesians), I came across the passage about submitting one to another, and also about wives submitting to their husbands. The devotional I was reading encouraged that I identify areas where I was not submitting or respecting my husband. First thing that came to mind? Finances. I was not necessarily a submission issue, but more of a respect issue. I was being prideful and disrespectful at the same time by thinking that I was better at managing finances than my husband, and did not want to hear his concerns or requests. I was not really listening to his concerns--I discounted them in my mind before he ever brought anything up. That is prideful, disrespectful, and not loving. Conviction.
Today is budgeting day. And today, we are going to do things different. We are going to talk about the finances, where the money is going, and what is important to each of us. I will be open-minded to his suggestions and concerns. When it is feasible to take action on his suggestions and concerns, I will go for it. When I disagree, I will respectfully explain why it is that I disagree and we can dialogue about it. If I continue to disagree, but he still wants to go forward, I will submit.
Such is my determination, but only God can bring that to life.
Lord, help me to be loving, humble, and respectful to my husband in this area of finances. Especially as we go over the budget today, help me to not write off his ideas before he speaks, but to listen with an open mind and not insist on my own way.
"Do nothing out of rivalry or conciet, but in humility consider others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."