When Your Finances Are Hurting Your Marriage

Harold Sala

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10

Jack and his wife Sue should have more than enough to be satisfied! He’s an attorney with an income in six figures and a growing practice. She’s an interior decorator. Ten years before, Jack had married his childhood sweetheart. In the early years of their marriage, they often talked hours at a time, and when words were exhausted, they held hands and their hearts communicated with each other.

Now, they are hopelessly in debt. Communication is strained, and each blames the other for their problems. “All you ever do is work, work, work!” she yells, and he answers, “I’m only trying to earn enough money to satisfy you!”

Surprising as it may be to some, money disagreements destroy more marriages than do affairs! In at least 85% of all broken homes, how money is handled is a major source of disagreement.

Is money management ruining your marriage? The issue is not how much you have or how little you have. It’s what you do with what you do have! Whoever controls the spending has power, and the battle for control is really a power issue.

If money is producing conflict in your marriage, apply the following guidelines:

GUIDELINE #1: Stop using money as a weapon to hurt each other. “An eye-for-an-eye” represents another credit card transaction, tit for tat. It only results in both of you becoming blind and eventually broke. That’s like punching a hole in a sinking ship as a remedy for another one. It doesn’t work. Ask yourself, “Is it worth it to let money destroy our relationship?”

GUIDELINE #2: Stop fighting and start talking. The first positive step is to get a budget, and don’t be like the fellow who swore that he would live within his budget even if it meant borrowing money to do it. Agree that you will not make any major purchases without both consenting to them. You made a commitment to each other at the marriage altar, and money is just as much part of that commitment as is sexual fidelity.

GUIDELINE #3: Start paying cash. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. This one is not only common sense but it is in keeping with a Scriptural principle. “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another,” wrote Paul in Romans 13:8. Eliminating the interest which is probably killing you can increase your buying power by at least 40 percent.

GUIDELINE #4: Analyze your need to spend what you don’t have. In some cases, people spend money to impress people whom they don’t like, but when you spend what you don’t have to impress someone you don’t like, you are only hurting yourself. Others spend money they don’t have in an attempt to demonstrate love. For yet others, it’s a high almost akin to an addiction such as drugs or alcohol. Yet—and this is where the danger becomes evident—abuse of your contract with each other does about as much to destroy intimacy as forfeiting a shower for a month or two. It drives a hard and fast wedge.

GUIDELINE #5: Get help. You can start over but you never start again. But starting over—with the one who stood by your side and said, “I do!” can result in rebuilding your marriage, the intimacy you once enjoyed, and eventually your financial nest egg.

GUIDELINE #6: Ask each other’s forgiveness and start seeking God’s help.
Life is too short to have your home broken up by poor money management. It just isn’t worth it. Jesus was right when he said, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). It is still true today.

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