Finances can challenge a marriage more quickly than most other issues. We put so much stock in our jobs, net worths, and standard of living, that it can cause a significant rift. What should be seen as shared stewardship can become selfish struggles in a hurry.
As I try to help engaged or married couples, I have noticed common issues that seem to endanger a marriage. Here are 5 financial differences that can frustrate your marriage.
#1. Prosperous vs. Poor
How has the financial situation from your childhood affected the way you approach financial decisions now? If you grew up prosperous, you might assume to carry over your standard of living into the first few years of marriage and be shocked by the newlywed reality. You cannot simply continue that pattern of excess you experienced as a child with parents with lucrative careers obtained through years of experience. If you grew up with lesser expendable income in your home, it will create hesitancy in you to purchase certain things even if you have the means to do so within your marriage. The standard of living as a child will create certain expectations in the initial days of your marriage.
#2. Position vs. Passion
How important is it to have a sense of fulfillment from your job? Some people, not driven by sense of purpose or motivated deeply by emotions, will be content in a position that pays the bills. Staying busy for something that provides income is sufficient for many people. Other people can jump from job to job seeking to find that perfect job that satisfies an unquenchable passion for a significant purpose, status, or title. You may not share the level of settledness with your spouse when it comes to career choices. Be careful that you do not expect your spouse to imitate your example.
#3. Spender vs. Saver
How does your spending habit affect your marriage? If you are prone to shopping sprees full of quests to find the nicest and newest gadgets, garbs, and gizmos, you may rattle the security of your spouse and endanger your family’s financial picture. A person who has no problem spending will find a person geared for saving as a hindrance towards happiness. If you are a penny-pinching, spreadsheet-making budgeteer that needs adequate rainy day funds before making any purchases, you may overwhelm a spouse who wants to enjoy some of the benefits an income provides. Differences in these areas can be manageable but unity will not happen by accident. You must have agreed-upon principles for what types of purchases warrant which types of discussions.
#4. Planner vs. Plodder
How forward-thinking are you regarding financial planning compared to your spouse? You might be the type of person that has a financial plan for your funds and your future. Barring no unexpected seismic shifts in your income or spending, you might have certain dates in mind when you reach particular financial goals. You might also find yourself extremely frustrated if you are married to a person who plods along with no real game plan in mind. The person who isn’t forward-thinking as much as another cannot be stereotyped as uncaring, but he or she can’t plan for the future either simply because of a claim of being wired differently. The two of you must establish a healthy balance of working with your personalities while working on any tendencies that can frustrate a marriage.
#5. Greedy vs. Giving
What level of generosity is your natural inclination? A difference between someone who is greedy and someone who is giving can create a severe rift that is hard to overlook. If your propensity to help others is solely dictated by how it affects your lifestyle, you will struggle with helping anyone with anything you deem as yours if you maintain a tight-fisted temperament. If you are more prone to a generous spirit, ensure that you don’t overlook the genuine needs of your family or the appropriate communication of what you are doing. In either situation, it is helpful to realize it’s not solely your money. Anything you have should be seen as a benevolent gift from God and a shared resource with your spouse as a potential blessing for someone else.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.