As I was growing up my parents often told me that it “takes two mules to pull this wagon.” What wagon? Who are you calling a mule? They were trying to tell me that in a marriage, both the husband and wife have to pull together to make the household operate, to pay the bills, to get the work done that needs to be done.
I was reminded of this old colloquialism in our Thursday night Financial Peace Class when Dave Ramsey shared a story that Zig Ziglar tells. He explained how a Giant Belgian plow horse can pull 8,000 lbs on its own but when paired up with another one without prior interaction or training, they can pull 24,000 lbs. If they are trained to work together, they can pull 32,000 lbs; four times the amount of a single horse. They have “synergy” if you will… being able to do more together than they could if you added up their individual capabilities.
I believe this principle applies in the world of marriage and money. When a husband and wife get on the same page about their money, there is a synergy that is created that brings an amazing unity to the marriage. But, to get on the “same page” about money there are several items that need to be understood by the husband and by the wife.
- Recognize that Men and Women View Money Differently – Men see money as a scorecard and they can lose self-esteem if they feel they are losing in the world of money. Women see money emotionally and it represents security to them.
- Understand if you are a Saver or a Spender – Some people are natural savers and some are natural spenders. I am not a “natural” saver. I like “stuff” and I had to learn to make saving a priority. My wife is a natural saver and keeps me honest in this area.
- Are you a “Nerd” or a “Free Spirit?” – Dave Ramsey uses these terms to describe folks and how they think about money. Nerds like doing the budget. It gives them control and a sense that they are taking care of loved ones. Free Spirits sometime feel controlled and can seem to be irresponsible with money to the Nerd. They couldn’t care less about a budget or a plan. My wife is the nerd in our family. She loves the numbers, the structure of a budget, and the peace that a plan brings. I love all of those things too, but I am a but more free-spirited about it. A “loose” plan is good enough for me. My wife and I balance each other out pretty well in this area.
The Nerd is not always the saver and the Free Spirit is not always the spender. There can be mixtures and overlaps when it comes to these attributes.
Money fights are the number one cause of divorce in North America. Just imagine if you and your significant other completely understood where each other was coming from as it relates to how you view and handle money. Communication and trust would go through the roof and your relationship would be strengthened.
Check out how to get a Nerd and Free Spirit to sit down and talk about the dreaded budget in The Budget Committee Meeting.