What's the clash over money really about?

Money may be an inanimate object, but we attach great emotional significance to it. Money only becomes our friend if we as a couple learn to partner around the decisions related to money. One of the prerequisites for partnering in the matter of money is an understanding of the meaning of money to each of us. 
Dr. David Stoop and Dr. Jan Stoop

When someone’s background was one of financial insecurity - they never knew if there was enough money for life’s essentials, money wasn’t managed well - as an adult, they may be very frugal to make sure they have enough or they may repeat the mistakes of their childhood.

Money may represent security to some people. Saving money gives them security. To others, money represents prestige. What they buy with their money spells success. Some derive great pleasure in spending money on things to make them happier - whether they have the money or not. They will use a credit card to buy it or go into debt to have these things.

When these emotional ties to money clash, the marriage has conflict!

When there is conflict over money, that conflict is only the symptom of other issues. 

Whatever the reason is for the conflict, it cannot be resolved without healthy communication.

We must sit down and talk calmly, instead of arguing and yelling.

The conversation can start by asking questions (and listening to the answers) about the meaning of money. Some questions that we may want to ask:
   - How did your family deal with money - their values, 
   - who handled it, 
   - what did they teach you, 
   - what was painful, 
   - what brought joy?

Another reason for conflict is when one spouse tries to control the other with money. It is critical that the couple agree on a spending plan. Regardless of who executes the plan, agreement brings oneness and must include transparency in all financial matters.

Guides ….
Where do we start?
1. Acknowledge that God owns it all and you are the manager of His resources.
2. Seek God’s will on where He wants you to spend the money He has provided.
3. Agree to follow His will.
4. Find His will for your lifestyle.
5. Make sure your spending follows the lifestyle that God has shown you for you and and your family.
6. Spend less than you make.
7. Keep track of where you spend money.
8. Agree on a spending plan. Every dollar is designated before it is received.
9. Stick with the plan. That means that you have to continue to keep track of how you are spending money.
10. Honor God by giving back to Him and His work out of what He has given you.
11. Get out of debt and stay out.
12. Save for the future.

Read more about MONEY AND MARRIAGE: HOW to CONCUR here.

What you think you heard isn't what I thought I said...

Marriage is one long conversation, checkered with disputes.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Every couple and every person struggles with communication. It is one of the most challenging aspects of life. 

Remember - real communication cannot occur without understanding.

Somehow, we think that talking means that we have communication. Without listening and understanding, we have blah, ba blah, ba blah, ba blah ….

When we have a conversation, I have to focus on what you are saying to truly understand you, more than trying to make myself understood. If I do that, I have to really listen and ask questions.

We have to really work at understanding because there are so many opportunities for MISunderstanding. 

Communication flows -
  1. What I think 
  2. What I say (not always the same as what I was thinking) 
  3. What you hear (not always the same as what I said) 
  4. What you think about what you heard 
  5. What you say about what you heard (not always the same as your thoughts) 
  6. What I hear (not always the same as what you said)  ……. and on and on.
At any point in that flow, if I don’t really say what I thought I said or you don’t hear it correctly, we have a problem!

Most quarrels amplify a misunderstanding.
Andre Gide

Many conflicts in marriage or any relationship begin with a misunderstanding.

Several components go into communication, giving many opportunities for confusion and/or hurt.

The words - I use certain words to convey my thoughts. These words may have different meanings for me than they do for you. The most obvious differences are in different cultures. If you asked me to bring a torch to our campout, I would bring a stick with a flame on the end. But if someone who speaks British English asks me to bring a torch, I would bring a flashlight. That is an easy example.

But other words may bring different meanings to different people. If I say, “I don’t care,” some people take that literally while others think that I mean that I am ok with whatever the outcome is.

Then, my tone of voice and volume add another dimension to the words. If I speak in a loud tone, you may interpret that I am mad. Someone else may think that I am excited. Or the reality could be that I am hard of hearing!

Your filter - depending on the lens through which you see life, you may assign a motive to what I have said. That motive could be totally different from my intent. You have put a spin on it that I never intended. If I don’t agree with you or don't want to do what you want to do, you may take that as rejection - that I don’t like/respect you or that I don’t want to be with you.

Your response - in the same way, I may take your response or lack of response as a negative message about me.
To avoid misunderstandings: 
1. Assume good will. Instead of taking a negative interpretation of what I say, assume that it was not meant to be negative.
2. Ask for clarification. “That sounded hurtful but I don’t think you were trying to hurt my feelings, please tell me more about what you mean.” 

3. Ask questions. If you don’t know what I am talking about or aren’t sure, ask follow-up questions to expand your understanding. Simply say, “I don’t know what you are talking about” or “I am not sure I know what you mean.” 
4. Paraphrase what you hear. Paraphrase what you think I said to see if you really understand what I am trying to say. 

5. Stay engaged. Don’t stop listening when you think you know what I am going to say. Don’t shut down or attack.

The Basis ....
But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. Job 32:8 

My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding. Psalm 49:3 

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6 

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established. Proverbs 24:3

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. Colossians 1:9b

We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true.  1 John 5:20