To be equally yoked is to share common values, beliefs and goals
by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier
During the week of this writing, I’ve celebrated my 20th year Marriage Anniversary. As I reflect on our marriage life over the past 20-years, I can think of several things that we didn’t agree on but money isn’t one of them. We always managed to have common views, goals, beliefs, visions, and priorities when it came to money. Perhaps that’s the secret to how we’ve managed to weather the many storms that all marriages face — and experience longevity within our marriage.
Nearly 52-percent of all marriages end in divorce, of those divorces, 80-percent cite financial reasons as the leading cause of their marital demise. The number one reason for money disputes between married couples is “frivolous” spending. Frivolous is defined as not having any serious purpose or value. When comparing the definitions of “equally yoked” and “frivolous”, it’s reasonable to deduce that most marriages either end in divorce or are on the brink of ruin because of irreconcilable spending differences.
Contrary to popular belief, money “isn’t” the root of all the evil that’s plaguing millions of marriages. Money may reap the blame but the issue is far deeper than money.
It’s been said that many married couples are willing to merge bedrooms but not merge bank accounts. Does this imply that married couples are more willing to talk about sex than they are willing to talk about money? Imagine that. Married couples are willing to get in between the sheets but aren’t willing to analyze the spreadsheets of their financial life together. Why is money such a taboo subject — particularly among married couples? Could one spouse or both be attempting to hide financial infidelity?
Realized or unrealized, practically every goal in life we have has a price tag attached to it. You want to have fun—movie, dine out, concert, comedy show, vacation, etc.? It cost money. The basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter, transportation, utilities, etc., it cost money. Want to raise a family? Adorable as they may be—little rascals cost money. Family Pet? Yep, they cost money. Financial Goals including emergency funds, new house, new car, college, retirement, they cost money. When you agree or disagree on money, it’s not money that’s the core of the subject. What you’re truly discussing are these financial goals and responsibilities that you now share together because you’re married.
When you agree on money you agree on goals, values, dreams, and priorities. The opposite is true. When you disagree on money you disagree on goals, values, dreams and priorities. All this time you thought you were having money disputes, but what it really boils down to is “unequally yoked priorities”. For example, she may be focused on saving for retirement. He on the other hand may have a love affair with souped up automobiles. Or, it could be that his primary focus is ensuring the house is financially stable. She wants to shop til she drops. In both scenarios, you have competing goals competing for your wallet’s attention. Somebody’s goal is going to get the short end of the stick and be unhappy. Money fight will surely ensue.
Now that we understand that money fights are really unequally yoked priorities, here’s some tips on how to become equally yoked in your marriage—financially speaking.
Now we are ONE: You’ve been given someone to call your own. Act like it! The IRS, The Census Bureau, and The Bible consider you to be ONE economic unit. You’re on the same team. Let’s start with pronouns. It’s no longer I, my, his or hers. It is we, ours, and us. One spouse’s struggles are the other spouse’s struggles. One spouse’s gains are the other spouse’s gain. What one spouse brings to the table lessens the other spouse’s burden. Work together as a TEAM. It’s the fiscally responsible thing to do.
Avoid Financial Infidelity: You have to be financially “nude” with one another. Yep— BUTT NAKED! No hidden savings, checking, off shore accounts. No hidden purchases. Fully expose all things done with money to each other. Any spending over $300 needs to be discussed and agreed on with both parties. The exception being affordable gifts to one another.
Be a Life Mate not a Roommate: If all you share within your home is common space and not shared responsibilities—that’s your buddy not your spouse. Both parties have to be fully engaged in household and financial responsibilities. Each of you may be charged with certain tasks and managers over certain chores and bills, but both parties have to know what’s going on, get things done and share the burden of fiscal and physical responsibilities.
Love is taxing: Whoever coined the phrase “love doesn’t cost a thing” was more than likely single and never been in love. Love is taxing. The tax you pay is “sacrifice”. Everything can’t go your way. You have to be mindful of your spouse’s goals, wants, desires and fears. You have to be willing to sacrifice or delay some of your personal goals for the betterment of the family as a whole.
House divided cannot stand: Get on the same page financially. Discuss your financial goals, fears, and concerns. Both parties have a voice and a vote. Prioritize your financial goals, fears, and concerns. Map out a plan to address all the above one by one.
Both male and female, husband and wife share common goals. When you’re married, communication and prioritizations of those goals is key. Remember if you can agree on money, you agree on goals, values and priorities. This will hopefully lead to a long, prosperous, fruitful marriage.
(Money Coach Damon Carr can be reached at 412-216-1013.)