Money Matters in Marriage — Sometimes Too Much
- Monday, October 02, 2006
A fresh perspective…
In premarital counseling, Ryan and I were warned that we would undoubtedly have our fair share of knock-down-drag-outs about children, in-laws, and money. After five years of marriage, I would like to think that, for the most part, we’ve proven the experts wrong. Of course, our son Reed has been pretty easy his first eight months and neither Ryan nor I could ask for better parents than the ones who raised us.
But I’m proud to say we have had very few squabbles over money (although this could be due to the fact that we have very little to fight over). What our wise counselors didn’t warn us, however, is that money can be a constant source of stress if you don’t trust God with your finances.
I’m not a greedy person. I have no desire for new luxury vehicles or fine jewelry. And until Reed started becoming mobile, I was perfectly content in our tiny, 75-year-old farmhouse. However, when it comes to money, I sometimes feel as if we’ll never have enough. It’s not that I want a lot of material things. I just don’t want to owe anyone a dime!
Though Ryan and I have both been in the work force less than five years, we have less debt than the average American and can make our monthly payments easily. Yet somehow, I still feel like any money we owe looms over us. Even when we have a large sum left at the end of the month, instead of rejoicing that we can put it toward paying off a loan, I stress because we still didn’t manage to pay that debt off completely.
Ryan has a much healthier attitude toward money, but since I’m in charge of the checkbook, he’s often stressed by association. So about once a month, we hit a rough patch in this department. We don’t usually fight about money directly, but the stress we feel about finances leads to short tempers and harsh words. Then, I start to pay the bills, double- and triple-check the numbers, and realize, like always, that we’ll have enough. In fact, we almost always have a little extra. At times like this, Ryan gently reminds me that God has proven time and time again that He will be faithful to provide. And that when we ask God for our daily bread and He delivers, we shouldn’t gripe because he didn’t send us food for the deep freeze too.
A seasoned perspective…
Because I chose, with my husband’s blessing, to spend most of our marriage as a stay-at-home mom, for many years, we were a one-income couple with six mouths to feed, and later, three children to put through college. (Three down, one to go!) It doesn’t take a genius to do the math and know that, until recently, finances were a major struggle for us.
Still, many, many times over the years, Ken and I looked around us at couples who were dealing with divorce, infidelity, terminal cancer, rebellious children, mental illness and a host of other problems that plague even the dearest Christians, and we actually thanked God that our financial situation was the area where He’d allowed us to experience trials and struggles.
That’s not to say these times were fun when we were going through them. There were months early in our marriage when we depended on the generosity of friends and family to get through. Too often, paying the bills meant deciding which bills to pay and which creditor we might be able to hold off a bit longer. Our financial situation created plenty of conflict and stress in our marriage.
There were times, I’m certain, that financial counselors (had we sought them out) would have advised that declaring bankruptcy was our best option—perhaps our only hope. But we were depending upon another Source. And time and time again, He provided just what we needed just when we needed it (and usually not a moment sooner). I have no doubt my faith is stronger for the trials we went through. And we look back on those times with few regrets.
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