Communication about finances is important in marriage. Ron at The Wisdom Journal posted 7 Things Men Wish Women Knew About Money, and I want to give you the woman’s viewpoint. My husband and I have been married for almost 13 years, and in that time, we’ve learned a lot about each other and our views of money. Though our financial road hasn’t been super rocky, there are a few things I wish my husband had known right off the bat that would have made things a little smoother along the way.
1. Being there is more important than having money.
As a woman, it’s important for me to feel like our family is the most important priority in your life right behind God. I know that it’s important for you to feel like you’re providing financially for us, and financial security is important. But emotional security is more important to us. We really do appreciate that you work hard to provide for us and give us financial security, but we would prefer that you cut back your hours, so you can be at the kids’ baseball games, school plays, band concerts, and have a free day to spend with the family once in a while.
How you can help: Be there. If you’re working 80 hours a week, realize that cutting back your hours would be beneficial to your family. Set aside one day on the weekend to spend with your family, even if you’re all working together in the yard. Just be present, physically and mentally.
2. You’re not less of a man because I’m better with the finances.
In my marriage, I’m better at math and my husband is better with people. In the early years of our marriage, we experimented with Jim being the one to balance the checkbook and pay the bills, and we soon realized that I was much better at doing the day to day money management. It takes me less time, and I rather enjoy it.
But just because the woman is talented in that area, doesn’t mean you’re inadequate. You have talents in other areas, such as dealing with people or fixing cars, or doing the yard work (I’ll admit…I kill almost any plant I try to grow). It’s best to divide up the tasks for running the family according to each person’s talents and preferences, rather than sticking to gender stereotypes.
How you can help: Don’t resent me for taking charge of paying the bills. And feel free to use your talents. If you’re better at dealing with people, even though that’s frequently considered the “woman’s domain”, feel free to line up a babysitter, so we can go out. Take charge of the gardening, if that’s what you like. And if you love to cook, feel free to step right into the kitchen!
3. Day to day actions speak louder than expensive gifts.
You see the commercials on TV. A man gives a woman a diamond ring, and she flips completely head over heels for him. While I concede that most women appreciate a diamond, it’s the day to day stuff that’s more important. A woman won’t notice that you’re not buying her expensive gifts if you’re giving her the gift of your time day in and day out. And if you give her a gift that she knows you can’t afford, she will worry about the money you spent.
Far more important than spending a lot of money are the little things that tell your woman you appreciate her. When I’m tired in the evening, my husband frequently offers to wash the dishes, so I can relax, and it’s an action that doesn’t go unnoticed. Kevin Leman wrote a book called S*x Begins in the Kitchen, and it’s true.
How you can help: Don’t overspend on gifts. I’m not saying that you should never buy gifts, but focus more on the day to day things that make a difference in your loved one’s life. Helping out with the chores, the kids, and even a handwritten love note speak far more clearly than a trinket picked up at the last minute for Valentine’s Day.
4. Spending money on decorating the house is important.
A woman’s home is important to her. Women see their homes as a reflection of themselves. When people come over to visit, they look at the things hanging on the walls, the things displayed on the shelves, and the general state of the house. And when they make a judgment about the state of the house, a woman takes it personally.
It’s important to allow us the freedom to spend a little money on wall hangings, throw pillows, and curtains. To a man, it may seem trivial, but to a woman, these are the things that make a house feel homey. It’s important to let us splurge on these things once in a while.
How you can help: Remember that a house is to a woman what a car is to a man. We know you men love your sporty cars or rugged SUVs. You like to shine them and keep them looking nice. Women are the same way about their homes. Indulge us and let us spend a little money on our homes without grumbling about the way we spend money on unnecessary things. To us, the little things that make a house homey are important.
5. Even if I manage the checkbook, I want you to be involved.
It’s important for both spouses to be involved with the family finances, even if it is determined that the woman is the better overall money manager. There’s nothing more frustrating to a woman than to feel like she’s left alone to deal with the monthly budget and bills. There’s no worse feeling than to have to tell your husband, “You need to cut back on the lattes, because it’s not in the budget.” Women don’t like to be the bad guy.
Open communication about money is important in marriage. It’s important for us to know that you are supportive of the budget, and if you’re not, we need to know why. The budget needs to be a cooperative effort, so it’s acceptable to both of us. We also need to know that if something happened to us, you’d be OK to take over where we left off.
How you can help: Set up a weekly budget meeting. Ask how we’re doing with the budget. Make suggestions. Be involved. Just because you’re not the one writing the checks and paying the bills doesn’t mean that you can’t be an active participant in the family finances.
6. It’s OK to say no to me sometimes.
I’ll admit. Women can be very emotionally driven sometimes. And I’ll concede that sometimes we come up with crazy ideas that cost a lot of money. Sometimes those ideas are brilliant. But sometimes they just cost a lot of money.
I know that your desire is to make your spouse happy. But when we suggest things like buying all new appliances for the kitchen, and those appliances are nowhere near within the boundaries of the budget, don’t be afraid to suggest that we save the cash first. Sometimes women try to fill emotional needs by shopping for new things. Try to get to the root of the problem. Say no to the stuff, and start paying more attention to what your wife really needs.
Women like strong leadership qualities in men. That doesn’t give you the license to be a dictator, but women like to feel like a man will take the lead and make decisions that are in her best interest. I remember in premarital counseling our pastor told my then fiance that at times he would need to make decisions that were in my best interest, even if I didn’t see it that way at the time. On rare occasion, my husband has had to do that. And though I sometimes get angry at the time, I’ve always come around to respect my husband even more in the long run.
How you can help: Recognize the difference between needs and wants. When you find your wife wanting to blow a lot of money on a want, ask her why. And if you can’t afford it, don’t be afraid to insist that you save the money first. The big purchase might provide short term gratification, but if you can’t afford it, it will cause problems in the long term. Better to think long term in this case.
7. If I know that you love and cherish me, I will bend over backwards for you.
It all comes down to this. Women want to feel loved. Cherished. Treasured. Needed. Appreciated. It doesn’t take a lot of money to convey these feelings to a woman. A love note. A hug. A squeeze of the hand. Assurance that you are there for her, even when her emotions are out of control. If you provide a woman with the knowledge that she is cherished and treasured, you will be the king of the castle in her eyes.
Last year my husband lost his job. We went through some really hard times, yet all through that time, I knew that he was there for me. That he cared about me, and that he would do whatever it took to keep our family afloat. I never stopped respecting and loving my husband. And when he landed the job of his dreams, I fully supported him, even though it meant a huge pay cut. We don’t need the money. And he gives so much for our family, I don’t mind sacrificing a little bit of money, so he can pursue a career he loves.
How you can help: Make sure your wife knows how much she means to you. Show her every day how much you love and appreciate her. If you do these things, she’ll likely support you in whatever you do.
Looking back over these 7 things, I realize that most of them have to do with letting a woman know that she is loved. Contrary to popular male opinion, women are not really that hard to understand. We just want emotional security. As long as we know we can rely on you, it’s not hard to keep us happy. And we’re pretty strong and will stand by you when the going gets tough, if we know that you love us.