As a pastor I’m often asked what I think is the number one reason for divorce. I always give the same answer, “Money.” Now, to be a little more circumspect, I must admit this answer is not only very simplistic, but it also overlooks a whole host of evident spiritual and personal shortcomings in both parties. However, I think it is fair to say that the majority of couples that come into my office for counseling do so because of something to do with their finances. Maybe the problem stems from the husband wanting more and more money, so he works more and more and never spends time with his family. Maybe the problem is found in a wife that doesn’t realize that you can’t spend more than you have – at least not for very long. Maybe the issue is that she “came from money” and he didn’t have “pot to spit in or a window to throw it out of” when he was growing up. Maybe it it simply the stress that comes from not enough money coming into the family and the constant struggle to just keep the utilities on. Whatever the situation or the circumstance, the majority of couples who come to my office with marital problems do so because of issues related to money.
Sometimes this problem can manifest itself in the most extreme of cases. A fellow pastor told me a couple of years ago about a couple in his church who had been causing some problems for a while. It was obvious that the man thought that he was always right and everybody else was always wrong. He lorded over his wife and asserted His masculine “leadership” at every opportunity. Finally, whatever the straw was, it broke the proverbial “camel’s back” and this couple left the church. Not long after their departure a whole host of problems fell on this family. It started off with some very serious physical issues but culminated with the wife finding out that their home was being foreclosed on in a matter of a few weeks because the husband hadn’t made a mortgage payment in a couple of years. When the wife asked the husband how this could have happened he glibly said, “I’m sure you’ll want to get a divorce.”
The truth is that money doesn’t have to divide couples. In fact, money shouldn’t be the source of disagreement that it is in so many marriages. I also believe that we as pastors and church leaders have done a very poor job in teaching our young people and couples how to properly view and handle the money that the Lord entrusts to them.
So, let me share some very practical, and I hope helpful, suggestions on how to view and handle money in your marriage.
Money and Marriage.
1. Don’t love money. The Bible says that it is the root of all sorts of evil.
2. Don’t get entangled or “caught up” with money. When money – the making of it, spending, obsession with it – becomes the focus of your life you’re headed for trouble.
3. Save some and give some of your money. This comes from having a healthy view of money. Put some back and remember to be a generous giver. You’ll be much happier if you’ll do so.
4. It’s not a sin to borrow, but it is sinful to borrow more than you can quickly and easily repay. Some wrongly believe that the Bible condemns ever borrowing money. This isn’t true. However, it does condemn borrowing so much that you become a slave because of your debt.
5. Don’t spend money that isn’t yours. It’s a rule we learned in kindergarten. “Don’t take what doesn’t belong to you.”
6. Don’t have separate bank accounts. I’ve never seen couples who had separate bank accounts that didn’t end up having problems. Marriage is two becoming one in every area of life, including finances.
7. Don’t have “honey doesn’t know money.” Secrets are not good for your marriage. They breed distrust. Also, having unaccounted for money could open you up to other areas of sin.
8. The wife may pay the bills and balance the account, but scripture teaches that the husband is ultimately responsible for the family’s finances. The husband is to be the leader in the home. He may not be as good at math as the wife, but he should know what comes in, what goes out and where its is going. He’s ultimately accountable for the financial well-being of the home.
9. Make a budget together, and stick to it. It’s so simple, yet so often overlooked. The time invested here will pay huge dividends in marital happiness.
10. Remember that “your money” is really “God’s money.” Everything you have is a gift from God. You’re just His “steward,” and as such God requires that you be “faithful.” I’ve found that when people realize “their money” doesn’t belong to them, but rather belongs to God, they do a better job of stewarding it.
Number ten is really the key to managing your money as a family. Anything you have, and even the ability to make a living, comes from God. If you’ll love God more than anything, each other more than money, and follow these simple suggestions you’ll be well down the road toward not only having a healthy view of money, but also a happy marriage.