When the Spouse Isn't On Board

Typically when a married couple first gets together.....sitting down and having a lengthy talk about finances isn't really top priority (if it is, congrats....you're nerds).

You're swept up in the amazing momentum of wedding planning....setting up a house....or, in our case, getting down to the business of popping out a kid right away. 

Money fights and money issues are a big reason for divorce. One of the MAIN reasons. Take two people who have completely separate finances and combine them, that's bound to be a powder keg. 

But it doesn't HAVE to be that way. 


People ask online all the time "How do I get my husband/wife on board with a budget/debt repayment plan"?   One of the FIRST questions I would ask in return is "have you combined your finances?" 

I'm old school, I suppose. I don't believe the combining of the $$ should be done before marriage (even though my husband and I did JUST that....even buying a house before we were married! We are fortunate it all worked out). However, once those papers are signed and the rings are on, the money is YOURS....both of yours. No more secret accounts. No more "that's his bill"....it's yours. 

Joint effort, combined goals, and success come with working as a team. If your spouse can't trust you to combine finances and insists on "this is mine, that is yours" type thinking....that's a bigger problem than any financial plan can fix. That's a trust problem. 


One of the biggest issues with getting a reluctant spouse plugged in to a budgeting or debt repayment plan is that most folks are thinking in the "now". What they are seeing is how this affects them RIGHT NOW. 

Budgeting takes away all the fun. I want to be able to BUY things. Everyone has a car payment and I deserve a nice, new truck. 

This line of thinking is ignoring the big picture and long term plan for your family. 

Every family, I believe, needs a 5 year or 10 year plan. Where will you be? What will you be doing? And...most importantly...HOW do we get there.

By laying out the dreams for the future...and showing how a solid budget and debt payoff plan will get you there faster...you can convince even the most stubborn spouse to dream with you and contribute to the goal. 


Think of how quickly the last 10 years went by. Heck, the last 20. Now, how old are you and your spouse going to be in 20 years? I'll be 56. FIFTY. SIX. I better be darn near ready for retirement at that point. 

When you join your life with another person, that's forever....and you have to PLAN for what that means financially. Unless you plan on working until you're 80 to keep yourself stocked in cat food, you need a solid retirement plan. 

Again, the "right now" thinking can tend to derail this. 

What helped us is writing everything down....putting it on paper. Also, a good "Compound Interest" calculator can show you EXACTLY what your investments will yield come retirement age. Seeing the numbers in black and white is VERY motivating. 


Can you work a succinct budget/debt repayment plan on your own without your spouse? Sure. Will it be successful? Likely not. If you're dragging your spouse along kicking and screaming, you're going to lose momentum. You're not attacking the goals together and one person cannot steer the ship alone. 

What helps to get the reluctant spouse engaged is the budget meeting. This is a chance to not only see the numbers clearly....and lay out your current financial situation with no ifs, ands, or buts....but this keeps both of you accountable. You put the budget on paper together...you agree to abide by it....you are a team now. Accountabilabuddies, if you will. 

What if they won't even sit DOWN with you to discuss the budget? 

Well, then, I think a good....fair...calm "Come to Jesus" discussion is probably in order. Try to explain how IMPORTANT it is that your family reach all of their goals....that your kids are secure...that your RETIREMENT is secure. 

Remember....even with reluctance on one side, you are a TEAM. This is a "we" situation. 

Getting a reluctant spouse to come along with you on a debt payoff/budgeting journey isn't going to happen overnight.....and it probably won't be easy....especially if you've been all crazy with your money for some time. A drastic change in direction may freak them out.....so try to refrain from doing NOTHING but talking about "the plan" (I am REALLY REALLY bad at this, right Hubby?) 

Shared goals are the foundation of any healthy marriage....and working towards that, even with a little resistance, is bound to make you stronger.