Money troubles are a leading cause of divorce, and studies show that the more frequently couples argue over money the more likely the marriage is to fall apart. So how can couples avoid this marriage-killer?
To start with, forget the idea of my money vs. your money, or his money vs. her money. That kind of outlook breeds dissatisfaction and is asking for unhappiness. It can foster a great deal of jealousy or resentment. “Why is she spending so much of MY money?” or “Why can’t HIS salary be higher than MY salary?” The answer to money trouble often lies in attitude.
When we stop thinking of money as “mine” and start thinking of it as “ours,” then we can decide together the best way to use it for the good of the whole family.
My husband Manny taught me the importance of this attitude early in our relationship. When the law firm where I worked increased my salary until it was above what Manny earned as a medical resident, I was terrified that his masculinity would feel threatened. Instead, he grinned and said, “We got a raise!”
By changing our attitude from “me-thinking” to “we-thinking,” we become more grateful for what each spouse brings to the marriage. When we acknowledge the financial needs of the family, instead of just our own financial needs, we become more responsible. We realize that our hearts should be more attached to our family than our money.
Detachment from money is the best way to avoid fighting over it. Has anyone ever encouraged you to take ownership of an idea, so that you will fight harder and more passionately for it? When it comes to marital finances, don’t take ownership of your money in that sense. Take stewardship instead.
An attitude of stewardship recognizes that everything we have comes from God, even the talents and opportunities that enable us to earn a living. God gives us these things so we can use them to build his kingdom, not just accomplish our own personal goals. As the Catechism tells us, every owner is in reality a steward, who has the task of making his property fruitful and sharing the benefits with others, first of all his family (sec. 2404 ).
By moving from a me-centered to we-centered to God-centered vision of finances, spouses can become as united in money matters as they are in all other aspects of their lives together.