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Monopoly, Money, and Marriage


“I will buy water works from you for $250,” my husband offered.  We were playing our first family game of Monopoly.  Sitting around the board was my daughter who is eight, my son who is ten, my husband Brad, and myself.  Having played board games with my husband for 13 plus years, I knew what kind of overall “game player” he was – aggressive.  However, I had never played Monopoly with him.  He was definitely aggressive, buying up properties left and right and making deals on the side.

As the game went on, greed was evident, as well as spending all your money, taking big chances, and mortgaging property to pay bills.  I found myself reflecting on what we were indirectly teaching our kids about money by the way he and I were playing the game. I worried that Brad and I were modeling behaviors and values that we did not espouse in our management of money.

Bedtime came and we decided to continue the game the next evening.  After Brad and I put the kids to bed, I picked up the Couple Checkup book that I had been reading.  Wouldn’t you know, the chapter was entitled, “Finances – More than Money.”

Here are a few questions from the chapter that got me thinking:

  • How is the pressure to “upscale” our desires and expectations to keep up with those around us impacting our relationships, our marriage?
  • Do we consider how our financial choices add quality to our relationships or take away from our relationships?
  • What is the impact of materialism and consumerism on our relationships? Have we been fooled into choosing possessions at the cost of relationships?
  • What kind of emotional influence do we let money have by the financial choices we make?

I was particularly struck by the chart of what money can and cannot buy.  In a previous job, I trained people on relational skills.  Things like listening with interest, asking good questions, and responding well.  Oftentimes people who applied the skills found their relationships at work, home, or church greatly improved.  A common conclusion was that meaningful conversations are not something you can buy at the mall or on the internet; yet they are something we desire, something that feeds our souls.  How often do we get caught up in our materialistic, consumer society at the expense of nurturing meaningful relationships?

Finances can definitely be a sore, sensitive, firey, and/or troublesome place in a marriage.  And finances are an area that couples simply can’t ignore.  How are finances affecting your marriage?  What criteria are you and your spouse using for making decisions about money?  “Keeping up with the Jones’ ” or using money to buy and do things that add quality and depth to your relationships.

Just in case you are wondering – after multiple nights of playing Monopoly, my eight year old daughter, who didn’t fully understand it, ended up with the monopoly!

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