Marriage and Money Tip #5: Making Difficult Decisions
Today we’re going to tackle a delicate subject: how to make a difficult financial decision with your spouse.
Briefly stated, here are my three main points:
The goal is unity, not a victory.
Your solution is dependent on the nature of the division.
Close the gap and pull with synergy.
Now let’s break these ideas apart and take a deeper look.
1. The Goal Is Unity, Not a Victory
Sometimes when we’re working through a difficult situation and trying to come to a decision, what gets in our way is competition.
The goal of unity does not mean winning an argument with your spouse. This isn’t a game of tug-of-war, and neither of you need to “conquer” the other person and drag them over to your side.
“I have to win” is not the proper baseline of the argument. Instead, your thought process should be, “Let’s come together and make the right choice.” One way or the other. Either yes or no.
When you and your spouse find yourselves tensely opposing one another in a financial matter, the key is to come around to the same side and start enjoying one another in a solution.
Two Important Aspects of Unity in Marriage
Unity is powerful because it is both biblical and synergistic. In Ephesians 4:1–3 (NASB), the apostle Paul writes a powerful prescription for unity in marriage:
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Here are two things to keep in mind as you consider your marriage and this Spirit-led “bond of peace.”
First, every married couple needs to understand that life is better pulled from the front by something truly important than pushed from behind by lesser things.
You and your spouse have a combined calling that can be the “engine” at the front of the train, pulling you through life. The two of you get to step away from playing tug-of-war, where you’re competing against one another, and move into a special kind of unity that can be pulled by your joint calling in a bond of peace.
Second, unity produces synergistic power. When two separate individuals come together and pull shoulder to shoulder toward a common goal, they produce a greater outcome than what they could produce on their own.
In other words, you are more powerful standing next to your spouse and attacking the same goal together than you are when you’re trying to conquer that goal alone, just by yourself.
2. The Solution Is Dependent on the Nature of the Division
Recently a couple met with me to ask for help as they tried to solve a financial issue. In their case, the matter was easy to work out because these two people stood right next to each other—they started off very close to unity.
Problems arise when “gaps” exist between marriage partners. After working with this couple, I realized there are six ways two people can find themselves standing apart from each other in financial matters:
Trust: “I don’t trust you to do this right.”
Fear: “You scare me, so I need to wait on this decision.”
Conviction: “I think you’re wrong, so I’m determined to fight you over this decision.”
Confusion: “I don’t understand what’s going on. I don’t even know what to think.”
Disagreement: “I don’t agree with you, so I’m not going to do what you want.”
Priorities: “I don’t want to do what you want because this thing over here is more important to me.”
Each of these six differences has a unique nature or makeup, so the solution you need depends on which of the six you’re dealing with.
Instead of figuring out the exact strategy you need to take care of this division between you and your spouse, it might be better to analyze why the division exists in the first place. What is the nature of the gap? From there, you can more easily resolve the underlying issue and reach unity.
3. Close the Gap and Pull With Synergy
When you and your spouse are able to grab hands and step forward into a joint financial decision, you will be a strong, united force. Something to be reckoned with.
Remember, unity is not a victory between competitors. It is an agreement on the nature of how to make a decision.
Finally, if you have specific questions about a financial matter and need assistance, you can schedule a 15-minute Marriage and Money session with me, and we can answer those questions face to face.
God bless your Prosperous Soul.
This article is part 5 in a series about marriage and money. To read Stephen’s other articles in this series, click the links below: