Anytime a study is made of reasons marriages are in trouble one of the primary reasons will be money problems. It often seems that the more money people have or make the more the problems they have about money.
One of the problems is that the one flesh relationship isn’t applied to money matters. When it comes to money they still have the spirit, “His”, “Hers” and “Mine”. There may be some good reasons for having separate bank accounts as a couple, especially if one has some business that needs to be kept separate. But for most it is had to keep the other partner from knowing what one has and denying them the possibility of using any of it. Instead of bills being shared each person has certain bills that they take care of. Most of the time there will be some resentment by one or both feeling that they are doing more than their share.
In Hebrews 13:4,5 God said, “Marriage is to be held in honor by all and the marriage bed undefiled, but the sexually immoral and the adulterers God will judge. Let your manner of life be without covetousness and be content with what you have. For He has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you, so we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do to me.” Notice the connection God makes betwen marriage and covetousness. In this country we’ve made such a big deal of having things that we tend to redefine covetness to describe only those who are much more wealthy than us. Covetousness is not being content with what we have. It is the constant desire for something new or different than what we have.
In earlier days it was easier to be content because we weren’t confronted with advertisements every where we look. In earlier times about the only advertisements they saw was a Sears and Roebuck catalog once a year. Think of two things mentioned by Paul on the subject. In Philippians 4:10-ff. he said, “I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content. I’ve learned how to be full and to be hungry, how to have plenty and have little.” In I Timothy 6:6-10 he challenged the thinking that godliness is a means of gain. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out. Therefore if we have food and clothings we ought to be content.” He goes ahead to say that those who long to be rich set themselves up for a trap and for much harm. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
Contentment doesn’t mean we ought not to do better when we can. It is being fulfilled no matter what we have or don’t have. The loss of contentment leads us to want more than we can afford and push ourselves by buying too much on credit cards and purchasing either more house than we can afford or cars we can’t afford. Credit that seems like the answer to our problems becomes a anchor tied around our neck pulling us further and further down every week.
For years when I’ve met with couples planning to get married I’ve urged them to learn to live on 80% of their income, saving 10% so they can pay cash for the things they need and can have a down payment for a house when they are ready to buy one. Then the other 10% should be given to God. If we make a habit of living on 80% we won’t feel deprived. When income increases it isn’t time to go and make more debt, but time to pay off debts that are already there.
If a couple plans their spending together, works on financial concerns together and puts money back for situations that will arise in a family our marriage will avoid many hurdles. We tend to plan what we will do and how we will pay for things without planning for sickness or health problems that inevitably arise. Certainly we can’t plan for every eventuallity. But we can save for as many as possible.
With most couples it makes sense to have our money in one account, make a list of exactly how much we bring home each week, and exactly what bills we owe and what the amount is left then start from there to plan what we can spend and what we should save and give. Things can get better for every family if we work and pray together on everything. Please don’t take this to mean that one should give to God only from what is left over when we pay everything else. I believe what one gives to God comes out of the check first and from waht is left one pays everything else. God never blesses the one who tries to get by with giving the least they can to His cause.