My first weekend back at church from vacation, I walked in the back door and hadn’t gotten ten steps inside before a woman stopped me wondering about FPU and our next class.  Our conversation went something like this:

“When are you going to do FPU again?  I can’t make the class this time,” she said.

“Probably in the spring; people are pretty inclined to getting those things in order at the start of the year. One of Dave’s books may hold you over till then and get you started – have you read The Total Money Makeover?

“Yes, I have read most of it, but my husband – well – he’s not completely on board with everything.”

“Oh really?  How so?” I asked.

“Well, you know, the budgeting, the spending controls, and he doesn’t really like to talk about money at all.”

“Ahh, gotcha…”

I could feel her frustration behind her smile, so I tried to suggest a few things that could help her.  As I thought about it more, I wondered how many couples are struggling with the same thing.  How many people are frustrated with their spouse because they aren’t interested in fixing their household money problems.

Money fights and money problems are still a top cause for divorce in North America.  We take our entire history of money, how we were raised, what we experienced, and what we learned, and we join it together with another when we say, “I Do.”  The problems arise because the other person has a completely different set of experiences, a different language, and have learned different things about money.  There will always be challenges until you get on the same page with your money.

Whatever your spouse’s reason is for holding out, there are several things you can do that may, eventually help to turn things around (emphasis on the “may” and “eventually” part).  Patience, as always, is a virtue here.

1) Pray 
God makes it his business to work on hearts.  Ask him to work on your spouse’s heart (while your spouse may be praying for God to work on yours, haha!).

2) Have a sit-down, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart discussion
I have a hard time believing that many truly engaged spouses resisting their partner when they sit down, look them in the eye, and say, “I love you.  I need you to understand that this part of our lives is really important to me.”   Have dinner, put the kids to bed, turn the TV off and sit down together.  Say the sentence above, then talk about why getting this right is important to you.  Which leads me to the next point…

3) Talk about the “why” and not the “how”
When dealing with an uncooperative spouse, talking about the how to get your finances in order is often no fun and a bit of a turn off to the whole thing.

“Sell the car!”
“We can’t eat out anymore.”
“We should sell your ________ to pay off our debt.”
“You need to stop spending money on _______.”

All these relate to the how to make changes in your finances, but none of them are remotely interesting to someone who’s heart isn’t on board with the program.  Instead, help them see the future by talking about the why:

“I don’t want to be forced to work my whole life, or fear about our retirement.”
“All this debt feels like it’s restricting our freedom.”
“When we have a zero balance in the checking account, it creates fear in me.”
“I want to be able to travel anywhere in the world one day.”
“I want to be able to pay for our kids to go to college, so they don’t have that burden.”

4) Is this a money problem or a marriage problem?
Sometimes the root of the problem is not money – it’s just the symptom.  If you fully and completely do numbers 1-3 without any response from your spouse, it leads me to believe you may have a deeper communication and marriage problem.  Your money problems are just an outgrowth of that.  If you find that to be true, marriage counseling is the best route, because that will give you the tools to work through those problems on a deeper level.  Go together, but if your spouse won’t go, you still go.

You’re not the only family having these financial and communication problems.  Approached the right way, (and with the Lord’s help) you may be able to turn things around.  Stay patient, and press on.