when marriage is hard(2)Over the past several months, I’ve had more than a dozen women contact me about their marriages and how they are just not working.

He’s done something stupid. She’s done something stupid.

Or it’s just the everyday stuff that is driving each of you crazy. So I thought I’d take the next several Wednesdays and address the four biggest reasons that women are coming to me about their marriage, and try to give you some practical take aways about what you can do about it.

Reason #1 Marriage is hard: Money

Earlier this year, Roger and I got the notice that Target had the tiniest of security breeches and sadly, his card was affected. (You know. The debit card that EVERYTHING is attached to…) To say it was inconvenient is an understatement.

But we dutifully changed all of our cards and got them hooked up with our accounts.

Well. Almost.

Turns out there was one account that didn’t get reconnected. Our homeowners dues.

We got a bill from them every month, which I promptly put in the recycling. (After all, we were paying it online right?) Each month they would send us a statement of how grossly past due we were, and each month I would toss it.

Until the postman rang twice.

With a registered letter.

This letter let us know that we were six months behind in homeowners fees, and in addition to that, the penalties, and now LAWYERS fees, well let’s just say that we were thousands and thousands of dollars behind.

Oh – and this came in May – right when my income goes to zero.

To say that this was a stressful summer financially would be a gross understatement. This is the summer that we will spend two years recovering from.

(And yes. I open ALL of the mail now.)

Here are a few things I learned from our summer of financial ruin:

  1. Accept that money is not one partner’s responsibility. I tended to leave the money stuff to Roger, but the burden needs to be both of ours. While Roger is the leader of our home, we run it like a partnership – that means the rights and the responsibilities.
  2. When money times are tense, do everything within your power to cut spending. This summer we had a lot of “Pantry Meals” (eating things we already had in our pantry and freezer.) I kept our grocery budget to a minimum, only ran the air conditioning when it was sweltering hot, got clothes altered instead of buying new things, redecorated with paint instead of trips to Home Goods, and looked for free or cheap entertainment. I couldn’t make our debt go away, but I could do my best to contribute in any way I could see fit.
  3. Get help. Dave Ramsey and Crystal Paine have saved many a marriage. Check out their websites, and get on the same page with your spouse. It is marriage-empowering to actually do things together to save money. Be a cord cutter   and get rid of cable. (We did, and we’ve lived to tell about it.)
  4. Get on the same side in your marriage. Yep- it’s frustrating when bills go unpaid or you’re not making as much as you used to. But blaming each other is a surefire way to add more stress to your marriage. Have a weekly meeting to go over finances and get on the same page. (We have a weekly “Food and Finances” night where we go over bills and then eat something delicious. It’s our little reward for being responsible adults.
  5. Pray specifically. Get VERY specific with God about your financial needs. God is not offended by your needing money help. Jesus talks about money all the time in the Bible. When Roger and I were having severe money issues, we spent a lot of time praying, and rejoiced every time God answered our prayers. It was a great boon to our marriage seeing God be so active in our need.

So what advice would you add to this list? Tell me in the comments below, and one commenter will win a four book marriage set, including The Husband Project, Praying God’s Word for Your Husband and two copies of The Marriage Project.

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