Marriage can be one of life’s greatest blessings – and biggest challenges. Even in the strongest of marriages, couples usually experience friction. Avoiding conflict altogether isn’t realistic, but learning to address conflict in healthy ways can keep relationships strong.
In a recent podcast, Ronald Blue Trust’s Russ Crosson had the opportunity to talk with Brian Goins and Ed Uszynski, two facilitators from FamilyLife’s popular Weekend to Remember marriage enrichment retreats. They described some of the universal challenges they see couples experiencing, especially in the realm of finances, and offered some advice on how to face those challenges head-on.
Common Stressors in Marriages
The most common challenges that couples face include communication, intimacy, resentments, and money. An inability to resolve their financial life together causes serious conflict for many couples. Money creates significant emotion, and each spouse brings ingrained behaviors into their approach to finances. Factors such as family of origin, each spouse’s upbringing and how they were raised, and different family and cultural norms all influence behaviors about money.
In one marriage, a wife expressed how much better she feels when she buys something. The husband, on the other hand, felt better when he did not spend money on anything. Spending gave the wife comfort and satisfied an emotional need, while not spending gave the husband a sense of control and greater certainty over the budget.
Given that each spouse can have wildly different views and expectations about money, it’s important for couples to learn to talk about it in a healthy manner that takes some of the emotional charge away. Even couples who have managed money reasonably well should address habits and behaviors they’ve developed, especially if they have not discussed money in a long time.
“You don’t want money, which is temporal, to undermine the eternal impact of harmonious marriages”
– Russ Crosson
Money can remain a source of conflict unless a couple intentionally puts time and effort into resolving their issues. Here are some bits of wisdom and advice that may help couples work on their relationship with each other and with money.
- ‘Calendar companionship.’ At the conclusion of many marriage retreats, Goins and Uszynski have witnessed the dramatic impact that spending dedicated, intentional time together can have on a couple. They advise ‘calendaring companionship;’ that is, scheduling time for the relationship in the same way that all other activities in our busy lives are scheduled.
- Find a mentor. Consider seeking advice from someone you admire who is older and wiser and has likely experienced similar challenges. Invite them for coffee or lunch and ask them to share what they’ve learned along the way that successfully kept their family on the right track.
- Remember simple fundamentals. Principles such as spending less money than you make are simple, but they’re not easy. Couples need to address two issues: how much their lifestyle truly costs and how much they really have available to pay for it without relying on debt.
- Embrace vulnerability. Admitting weakness and that you need help with money management is the first step to healing conflict. Be willing to be honest, truthful, and vulnerable.
Bringing a trusted financial advisor into the relationship to listen and understand where each spouse is coming from can be very beneficial. The advisor can help the couple tackle money stressors head-on and create a plan for reaching the dreams they shared when they got married.
If you would like to talk to a financial advisor about your personal situation, please reach out by calling 800.987.2987 or email [email protected]. We would be happy to pair you with a financial advisor based on your unique needs.
In our “Wisdom for Wealth. For Life.” podcast series, we share financial advice and wisdom from our network of wealth advisors and thought leaders in the industry, and from around our community of over 9,000 financially blessed families who apply biblical wisdom to their financial planning and giving.
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