Married Alone (Money)
One reason God created marriage is so that man and woman could work together to subdue the Earth (Gen. 1:28). God formed the Earth out of chaos; our job is to keep existence trending towards order rather than returning to chaos. Yet it seems life has a natural tilt toward the chaotic. Left to themselves, certain areas of existence will quickly spiral out of control; like the bathroom sink of a five year old. Five year olds do not have the proper motor skills required to balance a dollop of AIM on a toothpaste, gently wet it under a trickle of water, and stick it in their mouth. Five year olds also lack the ability to spit. At five they spray, they do not spit. It doesn’t take long for our daughter’s bathroom sink to descend into chaos. In about three days it looks like a tube of toothpaste was attacked by a serial killer. There is toothpaste blood everywhere.
Money is one of those areas where there will be blood in the marriage if there is not control. Money will subdue a marriage. Money is also one of those areas where one spouse or the other can begin to feel alone, which is never good (Gen. 2:18). Here are some practical tips on money and marriage that will help you work together, conquer a growing sense of separation between you and your spouse, and subdue the finance beast.
1. Develop a budget plan and follow it! Many marriages exist with two financial plans, his and hers. If the attitude of the marriage is his money and her money there will be separation. If there are two checking accounts, there may already be problems. Many spouses feel that they cannot trust their significant other with the finances. Perhaps it was a mistake in the past, something hidden, or a careless attitude. In any event the separate checkbooks tell a tale, “You are separate and alone.” If things are to this point, I would surmise there are some serious issues in the marriage that have nothing to do with money, but perhaps sitting down and creating a budget TOGETHER may be a good step in the right direction.
2. Stop frivolous spending. If you do not have a spending plan (i.e. budget) you will be prone to frivolous spending. A budget says we have X amount of dollars, so go to the store for the purpose of buying 1 pair of $X pants. Budgeted people drive to the store, hunt and purchase one pair of pants – then drive home! Non-budgeted people drive to several stores, see lots of things and buy them all. Instead of returning home with one bag of pants, there is also a bag of shirts, some shoes, a knife, a clock, a game, a dog, a sink, and a really nice toothbrush that plays music. Many bags kill marriages. Work together, plan together, spend together, and stay together. If you have a budget, you will stop frivolous spending. Not long after we were married my wife and I created a budget. In doing so we realized we were funding a small country by eating out – like Mexico, because we ate so much Mexican food. The budget was not only an eye opener, but also a good weight loss plan. We ate out less and lost a bunch of weight.
3. Get out of debt. If you create a budget you will soon see how much wealth you could build if you did not owe so many people so much money. Proverbs 22:7 says that the borrower is a slave to the lender. I like what Dave Ramsey teaches about debt. We are under the delusion that debt is a means of building wealth – WRONG! You do not own anything you borrow. Stop paying for it and you will soon see who actually owns your life. Cut up the credit cards, they may be killing your marriage. Proverbs 28:20 says that wealth is built slowly, with a faithful plan. You cannot borrow your way into prosperity.
4. Learn to be content. Proverbs 27:27 says, “Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man.” Go ahead and concede that you will never have enough. There is no amount of “stuff” you can own that will satisfy your “wanter.” If you buy what you want, they will make more, and version 2.0 will be even better than yours. Look at all of the garbage in your garage, attic, or closet – it is a testimony that your “wanter” is killing you financially. Budget planning may not quiet your “wanter”, but it will cage it.
When it comes to money, get together or suffer separation. Money will soon subdue a marriage if there is not a common plan. Help one another slay the finance beast.