Several weeks ago after a long discussion about money, David and I have learned some things together about men and women. Hope this helps you, I’m going to be transparent even though it is about money.
We were getting ready to go out on a date and I said something about a shirt I would like to buy. David made a comment that indicated to me he was nervous about our spending vs. income ratio. (This was before we had done our budget, and so he was simply wanting to be careful). His comment really wasn’t rude or provoking, and he did not mean it to be personal. However, I got defensive and took it personally. I thought to myself “I work so hard to be frugal and I do the best I can to find sales, and to be patient if its something that is not a necessity.” I assumed he was being critical of my spending. Neither one of us realized at the moment that what made me defensive was not the content of what he said but what I interpreted it to mean. David is the one that finally figured this out.
Do you and your spouse ever have a hard time talking about finances? Let me break this down into what we learned together after talking through this. Basic principle: Its better to kindly initiate a conversation about money than to make a comment about money. Here’s why: your spouse may translate it as a personal critique. Consider these two examples, one from the husband’s perspective and one from the wife’s.
1. Husband is concerned about the large-scale budget and is feeling nervous about the ratio of money coming in vs. money going out. So he makes a comment under his breath about watching the spending. She translates his comment as “you are not making wise decisions in your spending.” The wife is typically in charge of most of the day to day spending, and her main line of thought in spending is providing for the needs of the family and the home. She is largely mindful of him when spending, and she is motivated to meet the needs of the family.
2. Wife is concerned about not having enough money paycheck to paycheck to buy what the family needs. So she makes a comment under her breath about there not being enough money. He translates her comment as “you are not making enough money to provide for our needs.” The husband is usually the one responsible for providing enough income for the family, and his main line of thought in working is providing for the needs of the family and the home. He is largely mindful of her when working, and is motivated to meet the needs of the family.
Each spouse hears the others’ comment through a very personal filter. It’s especially hurtful for the wife when she already works so hard to be wise and is patient in spending. It is especially hurtful for the husband when he already works so hard to make enough money and endures a ton of pressure about it in his mind. The wife is typically self-conscious about how much she is spending and the husband is typically self-conscious about how much he is earning. Conversations about finances are necessary and can be done well. Here are two examples to illustrate what I’m saying.
Husband initiated: Honey I want us to talk about money but first I want you to know I really think you have been doing a good job with spending and have made a lot of wise decisions. I know you have a difficult task of purchasing what we need on a limited budget. My concern is . . .
Wife initiated: Honey I want us to talk about money but first I want you to know that I really appreciate how hard you are working to provide for us. I trust and respect you for enduring a lot of pressure at your job so our family’s needs are met. My concern is . . .
Sorry this post was so long but if I’m honest it may have helped me more to write it than it did for you to read it. I’m very passionate about marriages being successful so I hate to waste a story from our relationship that may help someone! I’m always open for feedback!