Is Money a Blessing in Your Marriage?

Feb 7, 2024
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The biblical vision for marriage is oneness, unity. But that’s easier said than done. Each spouse comes into marriage having been shaped by the influence of parents, various life experiences, their temperament, and more. Getting on the same page can take time, and learning to manage money together is often one of the biggest challenges couples face.

New research from Fidelity highlights some of those challenges, which can highlight ways to make the whole money thing work better in all of our marriages.

The company’s 2024 Couples and Money study, based on a survey of nearly 1,800 couples, found that 55% of respondents feel very good or excellent about their financial health. While the company didn’t define “financial health,” that strikes me as a low percentage. In fact:

  • 25% of respondents said money is their greatest relationship challenge (this is a bigger issue for younger couples, with 29% of Gen Z couples saying money is their greatest relationship challenge vs. 17% of boomers)

The next four bullet points suggest areas to work on:

  • 25% of respondents said they resent being left out of financial decisions

  • 25% said they are often frustrated by their partner’s money habits but let it go for the sake of keeping the peace

  • 34% said they disagree on their family’s next big savings goal

  • 36% don’t even know how much their spouse makes

  • 55% said they make retirement investing/planning decisions together 

  • 57% said they make day to day financial decisions together

Looking down the road

Retirement planning in particular looks looks like an area of opportunity. On a positive note, 70% of respondents said they and their partner share the same vision for retirement. However: 

  • 54% said saving enough money for retirement is their top financial concern

  • 53% do not agree on how much they need to have saved for retirement — more specifically, 55% said they have no idea how much should be saved by the time they retire to maintain their current lifestyle

  • 47% disagree on how much risk they are comfortable taking on in their investments

  • 30% of women and 19% of men worry about not being financially prepared in the event their partner passes away

Communication is key

Of course, communication is important for all aspects of a healthy marriage, certainly including the financial aspect. The Fidelity study found significant differences between people who rated the quality of communication in their relationship highly compared to those who didn’t. For example: 

  • 78% who gave high marks to their communication said money is not their greatest relationship challenge vs. 51% who said their communication could use some improvement

  • 78% said they discuss finances together at least monthly vs. 57%

  • 65% said they expect to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement vs. 40%

  • 57% rate their household’s financial health as excellent or very good vs. 34%

One other finding of note: 27% of older couples said building a financial plan together is their “love language.” (I’m not sure that was one of the choices in Gary Chapman’s famous book, but maybe it should have been!)

More than a one-month topic

While the Fidelity study was clearly timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day, financial harmony with your spouse is something to foster throughout the year. So why not use this study as a conversation starter?

Does it point to any areas for improvement in how you manage money together? Ask yourself and ask your spouse: Does money feel like a blessing in our relationship or a challenge? What would make it more of a blessing?

Managing money is something none of us ever get fully “right.” Hopefully we’re always learning more about God’s intentions in this area and how to more fully apply His teachings in our daily lives. But this much I know: your spouse is a gift from God, and the resources God has entrusted to your care are gifts, too. Growing in your capacity to manage those resources as a team is an important way to love your spouse well and glorify God.

What have you found especially helpful in managing money with your spouse? 

Written by

Matt Bell

Matt Bell

Matt Bell is Sound Mind Investing's Managing Editor. He is the author of five biblical money management books and the teacher or co-teacher on three video-based small group resources. His latest book, Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management, was published by Focus on the Family in 2023. Matt has spoken at churches, universities, and conferences throughout the country and has been quoted in USA TODAY, U.S. News & World Report, and many other media outlets.

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