In previous articles we have focused on how to have “oneness” in marriage. As we get started again, here are the previous suggestions:
“Oneness” calls on us to being open and transparent to one another.
“Love” is not feelings – it is doing what love calls for, whether we have feelings or not.
“Communication” – we focus on talking to each other with honesty, but also with kindness.
“Conflict Resolution” – we respond to each other when there is conflict. We talk about it, but there is also apology and forgiveness.
So what is next in our oneness?
Taking Financial Steps
Finance makes a difference in many marriages. One of the highest reasons for failure in marriage – and divorce – is disagreements in money use. So how can we have a unity in marriage that includes money?
One of our understandings is what the Bible says about our attitudes toward money. God has attitudes and instructions toward all kinds of things in life, and finance is one of them. Here are two biblical teachings toward finance:
1. Finances and wealth are not the meaning of life.
We are not to focus on money or be worried about it. Instead, we are to trust God versus trusting in wealth.
Wealth draws us away from God. “It is hard for a rich man to enter heaven.”
1 Timothy 6:9-10
Wealth is a temptation, a “root of evil.”
So we are not to be upset about money, nor are we to focus on money.
2. Our money is not ours – it is God’s.
2 Corinthians 9:7
God loves a “cheerful giver.”
1 Timothy 6:17-19
We are to fix our hope on God, not on money. Instead, we use our money for ministry to others.
So we use money where we need to on our personal situations, but we also use it for God’s kingdom. We give to things like needy people, our church, and to organizations that we respect.
One of our questions is whether we believe in God. If we believe in God, do we also believe in the Bible? If we believe in God and in the Bible, are we willing to humble ourselves and avoid our body-attitudes? Are we willing instead to submit to God’s attitudes?
Statistics indicate that we should avoid debt as much as possible because debt puts us in submission to payment. One of the primary causes of debt is our flesh. Our flesh leads us to spend money and accept debt in pursuit of pleasures.
On the one hand there are reasonable causes of debt – things like home purchases or car purchase. These things often require more money than we have on hand.
But here are two basic arguments for avoiding debt.
1. When we are young or knew in marriage, or when we are just not wealthy, then we need to do minor spending versus major:
Purchase an inexpensive house; don’t buy everything into the house; purchase an inexpensive car (a used one); and do not spend excessive money on things like clothing or nights out or vacations.
2. Throughout life – whether we are wealthy or poor – let’s don’t focus on full senses of enjoyment.
In other words, a mild form of dating, vacation, or enjoyment, is biblically acceptable and a good thing to our marriage and to our family. But our use of these things is well within our finances, not using debt.
So we avoid debt on things like this, and we even avoid a focus on enjoyment as the meaning of life.
A budget helps to avoid debt
One of the primary ways to avoid debt is to use a budget. The budget calls us to use cash instead of credit cards. Using credit cards typically adds to debt.
So to use a budget, one of the ways is to weekly or monthly put the cash into envelopes. If we work on it together as a husband and wife, we dedicate how much money should be put into an envelope for each requirement – house payment, taxes, food, clothing, gas for car, and car repair, insurances and medical costs, date or vacation, etc. When those things are set aside, we use only what is available. If one of them – like food or gas – requires more than what is adjusted, then one other envelope might contribute money – perhaps the date or vacation envelope.
Avoiding Conflict in Marriage
One of the primary results of debt is a conflict in our marriage. One of us wants to spend money but the other doesn’t want to. Or one of us wants to handle the money without any involvement with the other.
So we should talk to each other. We listen to the other’s thoughts and we have honest, open-minded discussion, and we then come to agreements on use of money.
If we cannot come to an agreement, then it might be good to have a meeting with someone who has good perspective on finances. And it is even better if this wise person also has biblical knowledge in addition to statistical knowledge.
How to have oneness
Our primary focuses include communication and conflict resolution. Finance is one of the places where we do communication and resolution of conflicts. When we are committed first to God, and in response to God, we are committed to each other. So we talk about finances, make wise steps on finances, and we are tolerant toward each other – and loving toward each other. Our focus is not on ourselves or on our thoughts or opinions or desires, and our focus is not on money. Our focus is on God and our marriage.
Tom Clark is a Family Life Ambassador with the Family Life Ministry and on the Advisory Board of the Virginia Christian Alliance.