Although you and your spouse, like many other couples, may believe that love can conquer all obstacles in your marriage, your relationship is likely to become considerably strained if the two of you do not have a sufficiently high level of financial compatibility.
A couple may seem to be financially compatible before they marry, but the passage of time often reveals significant differences in their attitude about financial matters. Compatibility in non-financial areas, including religion and family values, is certainly important, but it may not be enough for you to have a strong marriage, if you and your spouse are not financially compatible.
In an article in the Winston-Salem Journal, a woman who was having marital difficulties because she and her husband could not agree on financial priorities, made an insightful statement when she said, “[F]inancial compatibility – financial chemistry – matters just as much in terms of life goals as family, sense of humor and personality.”
If you and your spouse do not achieve a sufficient level of financial compatibility, the differences in your financial goals are much more likely to result in strong disagreements that can drive a wedge between the two of you and cause what would otherwise be a good marriage to be wrecked on the rocks of financial conflict, like so many other marriages.
Mark 3:25 states, “[I]f a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Thus, if a husband and wife do not learn how to satisfactorily resolve the differences in their financial goals for their family (i.e., become financially compatible), it will be difficult for their marriage to remain intact.
To achieve complete financial compatibility may not be possible for many married couples, but that does not mean that they cannot achieve greater financial compatibility than they currently have. Therefore, just because you and your spouse are lacking financially compatibility now does not mean you cannot become more compatible. However, becoming more compatible will necessitate that each of you earnestly commit to accomplishing this objective. As difficult as it may be for you to believe that although you probably will continue to have different individual priorities, those differences can result in greater overall satisfaction for both of you.
For example, assume that the highest priority of one of you (the saver) is to have ample savings for the future, whereas the highest priority of the other person (the spender) is to enjoyment purchase things that will provide more immediate. By working toward becoming more compatible financially, the saver can be liberated to purchase things that will provide more immediate enjoyment, while being contented to save somewhat less for the future. Conversely, the spender can become comfortable with saving more for the future, while being sufficiently satisfied with not spending as much now.
So, what can you do to become financially more compatible? Among the steps you can take are the following:
- Learn how to do financial planning – both short-term and long-term. This includes setting financial goals and then determining how best to achieve them. [See our articles under the heading of Financial Planning and Budgeting.]
- Make sure that you have satisfactory balance between spending and saving, and between short-term and long-term goals. Even if both spouses have similar financial priorities, it is important to have appropriate goals for both spending and saving. Although most people realize that too much spending can be detrimental, too much saving can also be detrimental, since it may deprive one or more family members from having worthwhile comforts and experiences.
- Be fair. Do not expect your spouse to make most of the financial concessions (i.e., sacrifice their financial goals) just so you can achieve your own financial goals. There must be willingness by both of you to compromise. If you truly love your spouse, you should be willing – even eager – for your spouse to achieve his (or her) financial goals, although not necessarily all of them.
Ephesians 5:25 instructs husbands to love their wife. Likewise, wives are expected to love their husband. Each of you can have the satisfaction of knowing that, by being unselfish in considering each other’s financial goals, you are demonstrating your love for each other. And, by knowing this, it is highly likely that the two of you will be able to achieve greater financial compatibility and a stronger marriage.