The topic of finances is a major disagreement issue for most couples and even more of a challenge for single income marriages. A great deal of marital disruption is frequently caused by attempting to divide finances because one partner doesn’t work outside the home.
When only one spouse works, agreeing on money matters like budgeting, saving and spending together is not an option, but is essential for both financial and marital harmony. Never think, “How we will divide finances when only one of us works?” because that creates a business partner mentality. Instead, believe in managing finances together to avoid “twoness thinking” in order to strengthen relationship oneness.
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A couple must absolutely never think that household finances are to be divided between them. Again, dividing finances creates a business enterprise rather than a solid oneness relationship. Always thinking this is “our” money and we are united together to achieve “our” financial goals will produce harmony, leading to a better mutual connection, and thus, creating a loving marriage.
“We” language is essential for all aspects of a gratifying relationship. Saying this is “my” income, “my” home, “my” car, or “my” savings account, only creates a divided business alliance. Such self-focused language will break down the commitment feeling that WE are ONE in all areas of our marriage, including money. When it comes to managing finances together, consistently satisfying relationships are continually talking about “our” income, “our” retirement, “our” financial budget, and “our” financial future.
The number one goal for all satisfying marriages is to view every dollar as “marriage money.” Both spouses should know all the income as well as all expenditures so there are never any financial secrets. Secrets, or even surprise spending, are a huge no-no when it comes to money or any other aspects of the marriage.
No matter what income each spouse brings in, spouses should establish a budget meeting at least once a month, and hopefully, bi-weekly. At the very first budget meeting, both spouses should discuss and come to agreement about the percent of net income that will be spent on rent/mortgage, cars, entertainment, savings, clothes, medical, miscellaneous, offerings/charities, retirement, and all other categories. Of course, the total should equal 100 percent. This provides both partners with a complete understanding of the available monies for every category. These regular budget meetings will develop a “cost conscious perspective” with personal and marital finances.
There also needs to be a category for “fun” money or “play” money that each partner receives on a weekly basis. This “personal” money is for each spouse’s own use for which they don’t have to give an account. The amount of “fun” money is dependent on the total income and the budget. This money can be used to go to lunch with friends or maybe even to buy a treat for one’s spouse. Having a category for marital “fun” money can eliminate a lot of financial stress so this is an important budgeting principle.
Marriages that are troubled due to financial difficulties usually have one or both spouses who impulsively spend without checking with the other partner. Hence, decide upon an “approval limit” where a purchase above a certain amount will not be made unless both partners agree to disclose the potential purchase, discuss together the pros and cons for that acquisition, and then eventually decide together if the purchase will be made. Another approach is to record every daily expenditure so there is complete disclosure for the full financial picture.
By utilizing the aforementioned guidelines, it makes no difference whatsoever if one spouse does not have an income or if one partner makes four times the earnings of the other spouse. The bottom line is all money is marriage money that requires ongoing discussions for managing finances together.
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Dr. Randy Schroeder is a marriage expert, parenting specialist, pastor, speaker, author and retired professor, educator and athletic coach. He’s spoken to numerous church groups, conferences, and businesses, providing practical tips and inspiration on marriage, parenting and various life challenges. He’s counseled over 1,500 couples and thousands of parents and families. He clearly practices what he preaches: Dr. Schroeder and his wife, Ginny, have been happily married for over forty years and have two married sons and six grandchildren. Dr. Schroeder and his family live in the Indianapolis area. To learn more about Dr. Schroeder and his practical wisdom, visit DrRandySchroeder.com.