It frightens me when a couple tells me they’ve never fought over money. I figure if they will tell me that, they’ll lie about other stuff, too! I’m convinced that money issues destroy more marriages than practically anything else. One survey indicates that more than 55 percent of divorces claim that money trouble is the leading cause. At this very moment, some of you married folks believe that you are sleeping with the enemy!

The truth is, your spouse is the best friend God will ever give you. The enemy is not the money — or your spouse. The enemy in all of this is Satan himself. He’s the one who smiles when you’re in pain and laughs when you fight. He’s the one who whispers, “You’ll never get it right.”  The Bible tells us the devil’s stock-in-trade is in lies. If he can convince you that you’ll never work through the money issues with your spouse — guess what? You won’t. And you will become increasingly convinced that the two of you are “wrong for each other.” Remember, whatever is wrong can be made right with God’s help, provided you’re willing to do some important things the right way.

It’s not until husbands and wives see the enemy for who he really is that their finances will begin to improve. It’s time for married people to fall back in love with each other. Many couples can trace the day their relationship changed for the better to the very day they decided to get on the same side of the money fence.

In my No Debt No Sweat! Money Management Seminars, I’ve taught these principles to a lot of people. And I’ve witnessed some pretty staggering things. But some stories stand out. Jim and Joyce (not their real names) live in the Dallas area. When I came to their church to present the seminar, Jim was a thirty-four-year-old architect, and Joyce was the church secretary. Jim thought he had no money worries — at least none he cared to admit.

He paid $521 a month to lease a Ford Exhibition. Even with gasoline prices rising he filled up frequently because he got only 17 miles to the gallon on his 80-mile round-trip to work. He ate lunch at restaurants most days and thought nothing of using his credit card to finance outings to the gourmet pizzeria or the Chinese buffet. This was a real problem for Joyce who handled the money and paid the bills for their family of four.

On Sundays, Jim would throw a few dollars in the collection plate, never thinking about the fact that he’d spent more on a backyard “pet butler” to clean up after the family’s dogs than he’d given to God.

About the only financial stress Jim would acknowledge was the constant “nagging” from Joyce. Joyce was fully aware of her husband’s $40,000 of school debt, their $10,000 of credit card debt, and her $5,000 of medical bills due to chronic migraines and rheumatoid arthritis. The fact was, their money problems were growing by the day—and Jim didn’t seem to get it!

“Every time she’d talk about finances, I’d get angry or upset,” he later said. “I don’t know if it was because I didn’t want to know, or because I felt she was coming down on me.”

That was their situation when Jim and Joyce attended our seminar. Along with the material I taught in those sessions, I reminded the audience that, by making only the minimum payment on debts — as the couple had been doing — it could take twenty to thirty years to pay their credit cards off.  One comment in particular stuck with Jim. I told the audience, “Some of you have made payments this month on meals that you ate during the Reagan Administration!”