Times are hard, and they aren’t getting any easier. Prices are consistently increasing whether you’re buying a gallon of gas or milk. Add in a pandemic that’s affected budgets and jobs, and it’s even more complex. Perhaps you’ve experienced financial hardship due to job loss, unexpected medical bills, cutbacks or something else.
Money and finances are the leading cause of tension in families and marriages. It’s known to be at the center of some break-ups, and, with various degrees of philosophies on money management, you might find that simple day-to-day budgeting becomes an argument of its own.
So how do you face financial hardships with a team attitude versus opponents? Is it possible to go through economic challenges to pull together, not apart? What if you’re on the edge of losing everything and could make a list of reasons why your spouse is the cause of this detrimental point of financial legacy? Here are some ways to face financial conflicts with your spouse as a team.
Don’t play the blame game.
You may have valid reasons for blaming your spouse for your current financial situation. However, if it’s not a severe reason caused by dishonesty or addiction, you’re likely aligned with the rest of the world in financial deficits because life happens. You might be able to pinpoint things that could’ve been done differently, which is often our first conclusion. Thinking about what you could’ve done to avoid this situation is instinctive. It’s also a time for one spouse to center on the other’s expensive way of living.
Did your going-out-to-eat habit cost the family thousands of dollars last year? Perhaps it’s the job loss caused by you or your spouse stepping out of bounds at work? Pointing the finger and placing blame is easy. Still, blaming isn’t going to make anything better. It will add to a rift between you and your spouse, compounding the problem. So try your hardest to avoid the blame game, even if you think your opinion is necessary and valid. If you’re going to work to get through this, you’ll have to accept that the past is the past and move forward.
Discuss without preconceived ideas.
It’s normal for one spouse to be the better budgeter, seeing where the financial holes are and comprehending what needs to happen to get through this economic hardship. However, the issue will come when you discuss finances with a preconceived notion of what you’ll do. In other words, your mind is already made up on the appropriate strategy, and if your spouse brings up an opposing idea or disagrees with your plan, there will be ongoing tension and consequences.
Instead, enter the discussion with your strategies and ideas, but be willing to listen to your spouse’s thoughts. Their ideas may be excellent or ridiculous, but as you talk through them as potential solutions, you understand that you’re a team. Teamwork is identifying your financial strategies, being willing to compromise and listening.
Be willing to hear the ugly.
This part isn’t fun, but it’s necessary. It’s essential to hear the brutal and ugly things you don’t want to hear from your spouse, but that directly impact your financial situation. This usually comes in the form of targeting, meaning you feel targeted or attacked when your spouse brings up an item, activity, or something you believe is an essential expense but they consider a luxury. Targeting is expected when you reach the re-budgeting stage of financial hardship.
For example, some women see regular salon visits for manicures or hair as necessary, making them who they are as women. Perhaps it’s a necessity for numerous reasons. However, many men believe these visits are a complete non-necessity, thinking that no woman needs their hair coiffed or nails done every month. Meanwhile, the woman might feel like the man is threatening their identity, leading to a battle. Whatever you believe about salon visits, it’s an example of the need to be willing to hear the tough things and consider them. Perhaps you do need monthly salon visits for your hair. Some people have hair that becomes more expensive if it’s not regularly maintained.
Still, if you’re honest with yourself, you may realize that you don’t need that bi-weekly manicure that takes 75 dollars from your monthly budget. Is it an incredible boost to your self-esteem? Yes, but is it necessary, and can you live and be happy without it? Yes.
It’s challenging to face economic challenges with your spouse. In the end, you must be willing to give one to the team. You’ll have to swallow nasty thoughts that feel valid and realize that your strongest ally can be your biggest enemy in financial hardships, or at least you’ll feel that way. You should also know that division will only enhance the breakdown of the financial security you both crave. Fear is the force behind any financial crunch. Blame, irritation, annoyance, and anger could be there too. Still, fear is the root cause of your panic when you’re suddenly short of making ends meet with the bank knocking on your door while considering Ramen noodles as a meal replacement.
There’s no doubt that this fear is legitimate, but as believers, we must remember that God watches every sparrow and promises to provide. It may be when you need to reconsider what “needs” are and return to a simplified way of life. It might be best to remove the luxuries and go back to basics. As you pull together as a team, God will show you His miraculous ways.
Most importantly, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve put faith at the center of your financial hardship. Through obedience and prayer, you can seek God’s provision. You may lose everything or feel like you have. God might not rain down prosperity, and it might feel like He’s allowing catastrophe after catastrophe. If you get that feeling, look for God’s leading and providing hand as a team because it’ll be there. He promises. If you’re working together, you can find that this situation may tie you together in ways that wealth didn’t and never could. Stick together as a team and watch God provide.