Isn’t it amazing how God created us as wives to be helpmeets to our husbands? Actually, it’s equally amazing how He made men and women to yearn for one another in a deep companionship kind of way. Back in the Garden of Eden, He created Eve specifically for Adam so that he would not be alone.
After having attended several different conferences and classes on marriage, I can say that it was always such a relief to hear that in many cases, God brings a certain man and a certain woman together to perfectly compliment each other. Simply put, in many a marriage relationship, husband and wives are opposites – and this is according to God’s plan.
My husband and I are opposites in nearly every way, which is why I say that it was always so validating to hear this concept spoken of at a conference that is focused on marriage.
Most times, the fact that my husband and I are opposites actually works to our advantage. I am totally uptight and high strung while my husband is totally laid back and the type of person who can just go with the flow. He is a night owl while I am an early riser, he is a rule breaker while I’ve never broken a rule in my life (well, maybe once), and I am timely while my husband is a procrastinator. The list really could go on and on.
In all these ways, we really keep one another balanced. He keeps me from having some sort of panic attack if we miss a due date on a bill accidentally, and I help keep him on time with his school assignments since he’s also a student these days.
However, I can also say that one way in which we are opposites has not always worked out in a good way. I’m married to a spender while I’m a saver, and this has not always been an asset in our marriage. In fact, there were years when this very issue was a continual point of contention, and it wasn’t always pretty.
After 20 years, we have now come to a place where we have been able to find common ground. Actually, we have even come to appreciate the other person’s point of view even in this very touchy subject area.
In reflection, we have come to this place by following these ten basic principles. Maybe they can help you find some middle ground, too.
Approach every interaction about finances with prayer first.
Before you even start to get into the nitty gritty, pray together. Specifically, pray that God would help you hear the heart of the other, that He would help keep your minds open, and that He would help you both speak in love.
Remember that there is no right or wrong when it comes to money.
It is not a black and white issue. More likely than not, both the spender and the saver bring something important into the marriage. Therefore, personal attacks as though one person is right and the other is wrong will be counter-productive.
Appreciate the strengths in your spouse.
There really is a lot of good on each end of this spectrum. These things are to be appreciated. Communicating from a standpoint of appreciation avoids putting the other on the defense. Neither the spender nor the saver needs to defend themselves.
Remember that God created you each the way you are.
He knew what He was doing when He created each one of you, and He also knew what He was doing when He brought you together. You are a team, you are his helpmeet, and you are each called to love, honor, and respect one another.
Learn some basic skills in effective communication.
This will benefit your marriage in every way, especially when it comes to something as vital as finances. Learning to communicate in a way that your spouse can understand, which also takes into account when, how, and under what circumstances they communicate best, are all important skills in learning to effectively express your thoughts.
Listen more than you talk.
Really. Just try it. The goal is not to convince your spouse to become you. You are not trying to “win them over.” The ultimate goal is to find a compromise. When you remember that you are to listen more than you talk, compromise will more naturally follow since you are open to really hearing what your spouse has to say.
Often, finances will be brought up because the spender has spent…again. Understanding on the part of the saver is key. Again, you are remembering that God created your spouse, even if he is the spender. If he is the saver and is coming after your spending habits, even if he is doing it in a not so nice way, be understanding of the fact that he is passionate in how he feels money is to be spent or not spent.
Recognize that each person brings something to the table.
Compromise in anything is most effective when each party brings their most important needs and desires to the table. Define what yours are, each of you, and then be ready to work.
Find that compromise and make a plan.
What can you each live with? Maybe this step will take some time. There are plenty of times over the years that we have taken a pause between the previous step and this one. Sometimes it is greatly beneficial to take what your spouse brought to the table and think it over. If you do decide to take a pause here, I find it works best to schedule the time when you will move forward with your compromise and create a plan before leaving the original conversation. If you are going to walk away, know when you are going to come back.
Take the plan and start putting it into action together and revisit as needed. Make sure that each person continues to feel as though their needs and desires concerning your finances are being met.
If you and your spouse are opposites in your marriage, it really can be an asset, even when it comes to your finances. You can move to a place where you can fully balance one another out and live a life that is greatly enriched because of it. It really is possible to accept and love each other despite your differences in this area.