This is an edited excerpt from the book Just Married by Greg and Lisa Popcak. In their chapter on “Money Madness,” Greg and Lisa provide the following exercise to provide a model for how to talk about money with your spouse. They offer a unique approach for talking about money that focuses on the emotions behind money matters rather than the numbers. Print out these steps and talk through them with your spouse or fiance.
The most challenging thing about money isn’t the practical skills but the emotional meaning behind it. Take some time to look at what money means to you and how that squares with what God tells us is a healthy attitude toward money.
Money and Motivation Exercise
Discuss your answers with each other.
a. Money can mean different things to different people: security, freedom, fun, independence, power, and so on.
- When it comes to money, are you happier when spending or saving?
- If spending, what do you like to spend the most on?
- If saving, what are you saving for?
- Why are those things important?
When you have the answer to these questions, you will have a clearer sense of what money means to you.
Write down your answers.
b. Consider your answers to the questions above.
- Where did you learn to think about money this way?
- What experiences in your childhood or life before marriage formed your attitudes toward money?
c. Now consider these motivations in light of the godly purpose of money and goods. Chances are there are some good things about the ways you think about money and some possibilities for abuse.
What do you think are the strengths about the way you think about money, and what do you think are the biggest temptations you need to avoid in light of the above principles regarding Christians and finances?
d. Finally, if you have not yet done so, discuss your answers to the previous questions with each other.
- In what ways do you think you will need to try to be more sensitive to your mate’s feelings about money?
- What specific things might each of you do to be more considerate of the way each of you thinks about money?
Why Talk about Money with Your Spouse?
The questions above have three purposes.
First, it’s important to get in touch with the thoughts and feelings you have about money—and where you learned to think that way—so that when you and your spouse have financial conversations, you know what you are really discussing.
Second, it’s important to keep a close eye on our emotional baggage about money. Just because you came by your feelings about money for legitimate reasons doesn’t mean your feelings are always healthy or right. Chances are your emotional history with money makes you good at some aspect of financial management but not so good at others.
Third, regardless of what our own experiences have taught us and what our own feelings are, we are always obliged to check how we naturally come at things against how God needs us to approach them. That’s both so that God can heal what is broken in us and so that God can, as we share in our book, change the world through your marriage and the gifts he has shared with you.
There is no shame in recognizing that your heart isn’t quite where it needs to be when it comes to God’s plan for your finances, but recognizing that gives us the humility we need to be willing to learn from each other and allow God to work in us so that we might be better stewards in the world.
Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage
Did you like this exercise? Get the full book: Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage. In Just Married nationally syndicated radio hosts and international family life speakers Greg and Lisa Popcak combine decades of counseling, the latest findings in marriage research, more than twenty years of marriage, and the wisdom of Catholic teaching to offer couples the most up-to-date look at what it takes to create and sustain an incredible Catholic marriage that will last a lifetime.
(photo credit: ellooosunshine)