Christianity -- Christian Living/Taking things personally


Hi Barbara,
My husband and I are Christians, but when we talk about our finances, i feel so much guilt related to overspending that i can hardly think straight.  He is trying to figure out how we can save more qnd all i can hear is that i am messing up everyone's life.  I have a looong history of a disorganized life. When you are single, it affects fewer people, but being married w/3 kiddos, my disorganization gas led to impulsively buying replacements of things we already have or, for exqmple, 3 grocery trips a week because i havent planned meals.  He has wanted to save half his income & take a year off to spend more time with ourpreschoolers at this formative stage-- and i just spend money on little  things and our  budget at the end of the month is like  death by a thousand tiny cuts, so to speak.  Zero saved.  How do i not become so overwhelmed by guilt that i can get in this boat and start paddling with him to a healthier financial situation?  We tithe, we've done dave ramsey.

Hello again, Amy.  Two quick things: First, the link to the 5 love languages ran over into the text.  It's actually    and I had another thought last night.  Perhaps visiting the budget with your husband weekly and having validation of a job well done on a more frequent basis will help to keep the thousand tiny cuts to a minimum.  At least your husband will see that you're trying.  Be blessed today!  B<><

Hi Amy, first let me say that I'm proud of you for using the New Year for making positive efforts at being a good marriage partner.  :)

The truth is far too many women would selfishly say, "Earn more if you want to save more!"  

Therefore, the love you have for your husband in this regard is to be commended.  Your husband would be blessed to see that your heart is headed in the right place on this.

Part of the difficulty I would imagine based upon what you've written here, is that the two of you may speak different languages regarding money and have different reactions to it.

You wrote <<My husband and I are Christians, but when we talk about our finances, i feel so much guilt related to overspending that i can hardly think straight.>>

It sounds to me like he wants to talk about it from a logical numbers standpoint and you're emotionally attached to the spending you do.  His logic is completely reasonable given his personality and upbringing.  Your emotional attachment to the spending you do is also completely reasonable given who you are.  Acknowledging that each of you didn't arrive at who you are overnight is important in learning to speak the same language regarding money.

Guilt doesn't come from the Lord and the truth is that your husband may not be trying to make you feel guilty at all.  It could be that even discussing money turns on your "old tapes" of guilt because of how you view money differently.  Guilt for overspending.  Guilt for not planning.  Guilt for not earning your keep (perhaps?).  Our "old tapes" are often self-imposed from unresolved guilty feelings and our self-perception of worth (or lack thereof).

Money for him may represent dollars, numbers, authority, and time.  Maybe it represents achievement and success and reward for a job well done.  It represents how he provides for you and the kids because he loves you.  

Money for you may represent something totally different.  For you, perhaps money represents love, value, and happiness.  Maybe part of how you knew you were loved when you were a kid was that people spent money on you or gave you gifts or rewards for tasks completed well.  That translated over to the value that you have or the happiness that you feel.  Money may be tied to how you feel about yourself.

Both of you have things deeply rooted in your past, in your gender roles, and in your parenting expectations.  Your differing views can be reconciled by understanding how the other is communicating and receiving love and validation.

So, for example, I'm assuming you both have arrived at a budget.  Now, let's say you have a budget of $80.00/week for food.  He views it that $80.00 covers meals M-Sun and that everyone is fed.  He has done his job of provision and has an authority validation of a pat on the back when you live within the budget he has established.  He is happy because he provided and organized and you have lived within it.  All is good in hubbyville.

Now, you may view it that $80.00/week is sufficient, but that roast beef for Sunday dinner that is $3.29/lb on sale would say that you love your family more than buying ground beef at $2.79/lb.  Since you didn't plan the meals out ahead of time, you have flexibility to do what says love to you.  Budget creep happens and you're justifying it as an expression of love for your family and wanting to do nice things for them.  Let's say you end up spending $89.50.  It's only $9.50 over from your perspective and you love your family and showed it in a way that makes you happy.   You think all is good in wifetown...

...until you sit down with the budget...

...because what it has also done is it has robbed your husband of all that is good in hubbyville.  He feels like he's not provided well enough or organized sufficiently or that you don't love him enough to make it all good in hubbyville.  He points to the numbers and the logic and the budget.  So you end up feeling guilty that you aren't viewing money as logic and numbers.

You will only feel worse if he decides the meals and treats you like a child or like you can't do your job well enough.  You will feel worse if he yells or makes you feel like you let him down.  You will feel worse if you feel like you can't be yourself and live within a budget...or if you can only be yourself on more than what is available (which BTW, always expands to fill the budget available).

Furthermore, if you do not work outside of the home (either never have or gave it up to raise a family) or make little money comparatively, the guilt only increases because being a stay-at-home mom requires sacrifice and you miss the validation of the big paycheck.  I speak for myself on this one.  It has been very hard to accept dependence, earning less, and the reward of doing tangibly valuable work.

So here's a solution to try:  First, find out how he views money and teach him about how you view it.  If you have never taken the 5 Love Languages survey online read the book, you (both) might find it helpful.  Because you are you.  He is who he is.  The boat needs to be big enough to accommodate different personalities and still stay financially afloat.

Then revisit your budget together and factor in how you view money and give yourself some incentive to plan even though it might not come by nature to you.  Incentives may be that for every dollar you come in under budget, you will have 2 dollars to use as "love" money.  You can make a game out of planning meals and agree he will happily eat whatever you have creatively prepared as long as you stay within the budget.

It's not just a matter of budgeting or accounting.  It takes into account the meaning that you affix to money.  Some women spend money for self esteem. Some spend it to pamper themselves so they feel loved.  Some spend it on their kids because they wished their parents had loved them more.  Could be a million things...but the important part is that it's not just the dollars and's what those dollars and cents mean.  Feeling loved, valued, like a good parent doesn't need to cost money you don't have.

Ramsey and Crown Financial have benefits if you're just looking at the dollars and cents.  Crown Financial is a bit more person centered than dollar centered, IMO.  But it doesn't sound to me like you're not understanding the value of saving or the meaning of decimal places.  It's harder to get at the root of what money means emotionally which will help you to establish goals that don't deny who either of you are or prevent anyone's feeling validated as you both pursue your dreams together.

I'd talk about whole-person goals and how money is merely a means toward those before developing a revised budget or new reasons to love the existing budget.  It will give you added incentive to honor your husband in how you spend and give him more incentive to encourage you in all ways for the sacrifice you're making as a mom.  That way you can move beyond guilt which is wedge between the two of you that neither of you put there.

Make sense?
Please let me know if I can explain anything better and I will be praying this new year goes well for you both.
Blessings, Barbara <><

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Barbara Shafer


Barbara Shafer (Seminary Gal now also at ) I am an Evangelical Christian who is willing to answer faith questions in a thoughtful, researched manner. In particular, my heart`s desire is to assist those who need answers regarding suffering and those seeking to reconcile the Christian faith with the field of science.


I have a Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I particularly enjoy apologetics (defense and explanation of the Christian faith) and systematic theology (understanding how the Bible itself supports various aspects of Christian doctrine). Both of these play a vital role in the "nuts and bolts" of evangelism... but the heart of Christian evangelism is love and compassion. A turning point for me was when I experienced the loss of my daughter Julia. Since then, my heart has been to help people who struggle to understand the Christian faith (and those who may be questioning the goodness of God) in light of the problem of evil and suffering. I've been informally answering Bible questions via other Internet avenues for over 10 years- to skeptics and believers alike. Thank you for blessing me with these opportunities.

Master of Divinity, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

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