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Christian Financial Advice and Biblical Stewardship

Can God Use Debt To Improve Your Relationships?

  • Scott & Bethany Palmer The Money Couple
Can God Use Debt To Improve Your Relationships?

Hear the word “debt” and it is tempting to tune out.

It hits too close to home.

It feels so emotional, even depressing.

Debt’s wrong, right?

The mention of that four-letter-word always seems to kick off the “shame game”--a huge dose of bad feelings to swallow with the already bitter pill of your shortfall.

But we all know someone whose life is currently affected by debt. That someone might even be you.

Student loans. Credit cards. Medical bills. Family loan.

The list is long and seems to affect everyone, so no finger wagging, arms crossed, haughty eye roll here. Debt happens. It’s not ideal, but it’s not “the whole deal” either.

The bigger concern is how debt affects your relationships.

Debt is temporary, but relationships are forever. How you decide to avoid debt or get out of debt matters to the health of your relationships.

We think it is so helpful to look each other in the eye and say, “I don’t love this situation, but we can do this together. Our marriage, our kids, and our relationship with God is more important than that number. Let’s get out of this hole together.”

There are three key relationships to protect, especially when you are in debt.

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1. Your Relationship with your Spouse.

1. Your Relationship with your Spouse.

Money is the #1 reason couples divorce. So there is no doubt that debt affects a relationship between a husband and wife.

Debt’s Con:

The gloomy cloud of debt that never seems to leave, even on sunny days, increases tension, blame, and resentment in a marriage. Little, daily issues seem to pile up until the gloves come out and the fighting begins.

If a couple sees only an uphill battle financially, they may lose hope and turn on one another, and say hurtful things they can’t take back.

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Debt’s Pro:

Debt’s Pro:

Believe it or not, a marriage can be strengthened by debt.

When a couple decides together to work to get out of debt, the bit-by-bit, day-by-day focus on a shared goal can strengthen a couple as a team.

They can choose opportunities to honor each other and move beyond finger-pointing to tackle the beast together and stand victorious with each success--three months without any additional credit card usage, one card paid off, a new side job, or their first, realistic budget.

God can use this challenge for good.

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2. Your Relationship with Your Children.

2. Your Relationship with Your Children.

Ever think debt is a “grown up” issue so it doesn’t really affect your children? Think again.

Children are greatly affected by debt. They are sponges soaking up what you say, how you say it, when you say it, and how often you say it. (Except when it comes to cleaning their room—they aren’t soaking that up.)

If money, or the lack of it, is the main course at dinner every night they understand quite well where it ranks in importance.

Debt’s Con:

When kids sense constant tension about money or debt it creates an atmosphere of fear for them. They may even dream the size of the financial issue larger in their imaginations than it actually is like the “monster under the bed” drill.

When kids hear mom and dad fighting about money they doubt the security of their home. Unfortunately, our children know plenty of kids from homes with painful divorces. If your money situation is not explained to them and disrespect is commonplace between mom and dad, they may imagine the worst.

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Debt’s Pro:

Debt’s Pro:

Having a hard time imagining the positive effects debt could have on your children? Take heart.

Your debt is a great opportunity to teach your child to be wise about money, and a wake-up call to notice what you are modeling to your child about money and marriage.

Teach them how to use credit. Teach them the value of a dollar. Let them learn how difficult it can be to earn and how easy it is to spend.

Talk to them about expenses: car maintenance, groceries, insurance, vacations, college educations, etc. Teach them how to save. Teach them how to talk about money in a helpful, respectful way. For every dollar in debt you are, there are that many teachable moments possible between you and your child.

Another positive effect is the opportunity for your child to be a part of the solution. How can they help out with tracking expenses or figuring out clever ways to lighten the load?

Use this challenge as an opportunity to show your child you believe what the money in their pocket says, “In God We Trust”.

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3. Your Relationship with the Lord.

3. Your Relationship with the Lord.

Didn’t see that one coming? Well, the God of the Universe did. God knew his image-bearers would be greatly affected by money and possessions, so the bible mentions money over 2,000 times.

One verse that needs no interpretation on dollars and cents reminds us of money’s rightful place in our lives.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

Debt’s Cons:

The negative effects of debt in our relationship with our Lord are serious. If debt causes us to trust in something other than Our Provider, we have made an idol and removed God from his rightful place. A direct command ignored. If we rise each day to serve the master of debt and not the plans of our Gracious God, we miss out. We miss the opportunity to reflect God’s glory to a hurting world and our faith suffers.

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Debt’s Pros:

Debt’s Pros:

How can there be pro’s when debt is clearly not a goal?

Debt is a great magnifying glass. It helps you see where you are not trusting God and living within His provision. Thank Him for that lesson. And know that money and possessions never satisfy, so cease the chase. Solomon reminds us, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NIV)

God wants the best for your relationship with your spouse, your child, and Him. He wants that you serve Him and not debt, but He is gracious and allows opportunities to learn from our debt and live in freedom as debt’s pros exterminate the cons.


Scott & Bethany Palmer, The Money Couple, are love & money experts, authors, speakers, and each have 20 years of financial advising experience. Together, they help couples solve money issues in their relationship. Grab a copy of "The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Love and Money Language," and take the FREE online Money Personality Assessment.

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