If you’ve been married for more than one day, you already know that when we say “I do,” we don’t instantly have all the same values and priorities. Many couples spend decades in frustration around the topic of money, even though both spouses desire unity and agreement. 

As a Financial Planner, I’ve not only walked hundreds of couples through financial conflict, but happen to be a strong-minded wife myself who has experienced friction, and eventually, redemption in my own money and marriage.


When we first married, and shared a mailbox for the first time, I opened my husband’s bank statement and was shocked to see an overdraft. His way of managing money was very different than mine! But, despite his lax habits with his checking account, most of our conflict was not his fault. Getting married revealed just how controlling and uncompromising I could be when it came to money. I have strong convictions about what I see as the right way to give, save, spend and invest. In our early years together, my husband wasn’t given a chance to make many financial decisions at all, which was, of course, completely unfair.

In nearly every couple, there’s one person who is more skilled at managing day-to-day financial tasks, like paying bills, making retirement contributions, and ensuring beneficiaries are updated. However, it’s never a good idea for the other spouse to disengage or disappear entirely. Both must come to the table with their own values and priorities if there will ever be true unity

Since each person is individually called to be a steward, or manager, of the resources God has entrusted to them, neither spouse can be passive. Likewise, neither spouse can be domineering. Within the context of marriage, money decisions must be made in partnership.

A financial planning process that I’ve seen work well for bringing couples together follows this 3-Step approach:

  1. First, identify each spouse’s personal values. Often, there will be several shared core values, which explain why these 2 individuals were drawn to one another in the first place. But almost without exception, there will be some values that are not shared. It’s important that spouses honor the ways that they are created uniquely, as individuals who reflect different facets of God’s manifold (multi-faceted) wisdom.

Eph 3:10 reminds us of God’s manifold wisdom that is revealed through us as his church. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms," 

Each of us are made in his image and our personal values reveal what attributes of his nature we were created to reflect. He is the Good Shepherd, the Great Physician, the Builder of Everything, the One who makes all things grow, the Comforter, the Wonderful Counselor, the Giver of every good and perfect gift, the One who rejoices over us with singing, our Father, our Advocate, and so much more.

One day as I was praying over our marriage, keenly aware of and frankly, frustrated by, all the ways that we are different, I felt the Lord whisper to me that I should look up the meaning of my husband’s name. My husband’s name is Christopher, which means “Christ bearer.” In that moment, I realized that, according to the Bible, Christ already did indeed live inside of my husband and that I needed to look for Jesus showing up in my husband. As I did, I began to see how even some of the things that had frustrated me about my husband, were actually God’s mercy at work in my life.


  1. Second, make a single list that includes the financial priorities of both spouses. Our values shape our priorities and making a single list ensures that resources will be allocated more equitably. Just like the personal values, there are likely to be some priorities that overlap, having high importance to both spouses, but also some that are only important to one. We honor our differences by making a compromise and setting financial boundaries.
  2. Third, the spouses must agree on which recommendations they will implement and who will be responsible for various follow-up tasks. If deadlines and reminders can be set, the odds of success will dramatically increase. This is the place for the more financially adept spouse to shine and use their skills to serve and bless the family. If both showed up with their values and priorities, one can often handle the implementation checklist after the planning is done.

One of the most common areas of disagreement I’ve seen is actually in the area of generosity. Imagine that one spouse feels compelled to give more broadly into kingdom ministries, missions, church, etc. and the other spouse is inclined to give generously to his or her own family. Both come from a common personal value: generosity. Both are Biblical priorities. But they aren’t in agreement. 

In this case, I think it makes sense to compromise by allocating a certain dollar amount (assets or cash flow) to each priority and seeing if the couple can reach an agreement as to how much for each. It’s not a question of who will win and who will lose, but instead it’s a win-win.

Secondly, I’ve seen many instances where one spouse is very generous by nature while the other is more frugal or focused on saving. The previously described financial planning process is again a wonderful way to put some boundaries on both saving and giving. Organizing financial data into a plan makes it obvious that there are only so many dollars to allocate to various priorities. If the more generous spouse can see the importance of the savings goals and the expenses associated with the family lifestyle, they naturally recognize that generosity is a privilege and not a right. They see the “cost” of their giving in other areas of their life. Counting the cost before committing is a Biblical concept, not a sign of stinginess. 

At the same time, the more frugal spouse sees the capacity they have to give by setting “finish lines” on various savings goals. For example, there’s no need to save all surplus income for retirement when the projection shows that only 10% will be enough.

No matter what challenges or disagreements you and your spouse may have had in the past, it’s always the right time to invest in your marriage, and work towards honor, agreement, understanding, and unity. If you find you’re at an impasse, pray together. Ask God to show you His wisdom and soften your heart where you need to bend.

Published on April 04 2024