Ask Chuck: Getting On The Same Page As Unbelieving Spouse
I’m having a difficult time getting my husband on the same page to stop accruing debt and begin to pay it off. We have both read money help books and I am ready for financial freedom, but he is resistant to sticking to a budget. I tithe faithfully and would love to give more as we are called to do, but I can’t because of his spending. He is not a believer so he does not fully understand nor agree with biblical financial standards. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Ready for Freedom
Dear Ready for Freedom,
It is interesting how similar this is to our story! Although I was a Christian, my wife and I were not on the same page about money for the first twenty-one years of our marriage, so we wrote a book about what we learned and how we have changed since.
When a couple is not on the same page financially, there will inevitably be stress. I can empathize with you here – it’s often overwhelming and very difficult. Here are some practical steps you can take now:
Choose To Be a Peacemaker
Be the first to apologize (even when it’s not your fault). Speak healing words and learn your husband’s love language. Seek to quickly resolve misunderstandings and differences of opinion, and honor him in word and deed.
Philippians 4:8 says, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
When times are most trying, remind yourself of that truth. Don’t allow your mind to get caught up in the trap of comparison, bitterness, or resentment. Renew your mind with Christ.
Express your gratitude for all he does and demonstrate contentment. Often a man tries to please his wife by buying things he thinks will impress or make her happy. Affirm him, serve him, and do not nag him. Most importantly, pray for him faithfully.
Submit, Even When It’s Not Easy
God sees your heart to give and motivation to get out of debt. But the Bible also gives this mandate in 1 Peter 3:1-2:
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
Your desire to get out of debt and give are not in contradiction to the Bible’s commandments. You’re not on an easy journey, so be encouraged by 2 Samuel 15:22 – it is better to obey than to sacrifice. Be obedient to Scripture and exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit in your words, actions, and attitude toward your husband. Never come at him with a guilt trip, when you’re frustrated, or when you feel insecure. Again, pray for him faithfully.
Continue Living as a Steward
I commend you for wanting to budget! I’ve learned the importance of a budget and have come to love it, but it’s not natural for me. When couples are united in their finances, things like budgeting, giving, saving, and investing are easier to accomplish because you’re working toward a goal together.
Even though your husband is resistant, keep trying and continue praying. Ask him what financial goals he wants to achieve so he can find the motivation to work together and move forward. If he continues to resist, then you continue to budget, pay off debt, save, give, and live as a steward.
You can’t control his spending, but you can control yours. If you’re able, cut out some of your own expenses and use that surplus to pay off debt. Make it easy for him to want to live like you.
Can you recruit a wise older couple for encouragement and needed accountability? Possibly they can serve as mentors to help the two of you unite and make progress.
The key to financial success is putting what you know into action. Try to get on the same page so you can establish goals together or you will simply drift along hoping it all works out. Focus on the areas you agree on. Then, set goals and work towards achieving those together. Do your part with joy and trust God as you serve your husband daily.
It sounds like your first goal needs to be an emergency savings account. I recommend everyone start with $1,000 set aside for emergencies only and then work up to 9-12 months’ worth of living expenses. Do this before attacking debt to keep you out of debt in the future.
Even if you are the only one contributing to this savings fund, don’t keep it a secret from your husband. Financial infidelity is sadly common but absolutely detrimental. Continue to be honest and upfront with him about all your financial goals.
Once you have $1,000 in an emergency fund, attack your debt. We have a helpful mini video series that walks you through simple steps to get out (and stay out) of debt. Would your husband be willing to just watch the videos with you? Use the debt snowball calculator to create your payoff plan. And if you have overwhelming credit card debt, contact Christian Credit Counselors.
Of course, reaching your saving and debt-payoff goals will require a disciplined budget. We have some helpful tips on how to cut down on expenses.
Don’t Give Up
There is hope for you. My wife will tell you it took a miracle but God answered her prayers to get my attention, unite our hearts, and align our financial plans. This happened by taking a Crown course together! You can learn about our online study here. Let me know how it goes. We will pray for you. Thanks for writing.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Originally published on the Christian Post, June 22, 2018