SERIES: The Reluctant Spouse – Part 1

Welcome to the latest series at – “The Reluctant Spouse”

Perhaps the most challenging issue I face as a financial author, teacher, and coach is “the reluctant spouse.” One spouse wants to prepare and live by a budget, invest, save, give, and live frugally. Meanwhile, their spouse is very reluctant to participate in the budgeting process and routinely makes contradictory financial decisions. In this series, I will share some tips and ideas to help bring the reluctant spouse on board as an active and willing participant in financial decisions.

Part One  Identify “WHY” your spouse is reluctant to participate in financial matters

This is an important moment for you. Consider the reason(s) your spouse may not want to participate in financial decisions. This is not an attempt to discover what is “wrong” with your spouse. The ultimate goal is to gain understanding.

As a financial coach, I’ve identified several reasons a person takes on the role of “The Reluctant Spouse”:

  1. Relationship Status  Many times, financial behavior is an indicator of deeper relational issues. Are there areas of your marriage that need addressed? In a world full of blended families and past marriages, these past relationships can also play a role.
  2. Income Challenges  When income does not meet expenses, it can cause some people to shut down completely. “There just isn’t enough money to manage,” they reason.
  3. Past Money Mistakes  Has your spouse been burned by a financial decision they have made? Have you made a money mistake that has created a trust issue? Poor money decisions can cause some people to “freeze up” and choose to avoid them completely in the future.
  4. Upbringing  Perhaps their behavior has been informed by their own parents. Maybe they saw all of the money decisions handled by one parent and honestly believe the same should be true for their own marriage. They may have been raised in a family that didn’t hear the word “no” used very often when it came to spending.
  5. Power  Does your spouse feel like you are manipulating them to get something you want? Because money is attached to our hearts (read Matthew 6:21), it is powerfully and deeply connected into our plans, hopes, and dreams.
  6. Education  Most people have had little money education. The feeling of ignorance can be very powerful and cause a person to feel the “fight or flight” defense mechanism.
  7. Embarrassment  No one wants to be perceived as broke or unable to manage their money. We all want to be able to provide well for our family. When one doesn’t feel like they have done this very well, it can be embarrassing. This feeling is amplified if the “the exuberant spouse” is pushing “the reluctant spouse” to meet with a financial coach because they know they will be faced with their financial shortcomings.
  8. Financial Infidelity  Perhaps there is a hidden financial decision that will have to be revealed once “the reluctant spouse” becomes an active participant. It could be a hidden debt, poor spending decisions, an addiction, or hidden income.

Which reasons apply to your reluctant spouse? Again, reviewing these reasons is not to be used as a way to identify “who is right” and “who is wrong.” The goal is to identify the key reasons causing your spouse to be very reluctant when it comes to money decisions.

The first step is to obtain complete understanding. In Part Two, I will reveal another key step you can take, and it’s about YOU – not your reluctant spouse!

Read the entire series (available after 10/21/2014)

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