Here’s a not-so-fictional story about money and marriage, one that has been lived out in thousands of homes:
Making no effort to be quiet, Graham comes to bed. It’s about 1 a.m. Anna has been asleep for three hours, but she’s wide-awake now. ‘Anna,’ says Graham, ‘we’re never going to make it if you keep spending so much money.’ Stress squeezes Anna’s stomach. She knows Graham has been working on their finances. She’d like to pretend she didn’t hear him but figures she can’t.
She turns toward him. ‘Honey, what can I do? I try not to spend too much. There are things that we need.’ Graham sighs. “We need fifty dollars’ worth of makeup from Dillard’s? We need one hundred twenty dollars’ worth of groceries a week? We need to buy new furniture for the living room and put up new curtains? These are not needs, Hon.’
Anna stares at the ceiling. ‘Okay, the furniture and the curtains may not be needs, but my makeup and—’ Graham interrupts, ‘Honey, you’re beautiful. You don’t need to spend that kind of money on makeup.’ ‘But that’s what it costs. And I don’t buy it that often.’ She tries to snuggle next to Graham, but he pulls away. ‘Are you kidding?’ he says. ‘I’m so stressed out, and you think you can just cuddle up and be cute and it’ll all be okay. You’ve got to take some responsibility here, Anna. Things are not okay.’
As Graham and Anna have found, it can be a huge problem between husband and wife when one of them spends—or seems to spend—too much. In fact, if someone were to ask you what the number one reason is for couples falling apart, you might think sex, household chores, or the strain of bringing up children would top the list. However it’s actually money that drives more couples apart. Three leading charities all cited money worries as the number one cause of conflict in a relationship. They said it was not lack of cash that was the main cause of strife, but issues around trust and values—basically, if you disagree about how to manage your finances.
We will find that finances become a major issue in marriage when one or both members of a marriage get too wrapped up in accumulating things, or they worry too much about financial matters. They are resolved when both parties put God first.
Money and marriage principle #1
Both should focus on investing in eternal things. (Matt. 6:19–24)
Everything we value on Earth will pass away. Most of our existence will not be on this earth, and there is not one thing that you possess that you will take with you into eternity. Yet we fight and argue over things that have no lasting value whatsoever. You must start your discussions with this reality—“Everything you have will decay.”
How we handle money reflects on the focus of our heart. The value we give to things says something about us. Things like a passion to get fancy new cars, larger houses, or the latest technological gadget say something about what is really important to us. We go into debt, we stress ourselves and lose sleep when we have to give up something of value to us.
Buying things doesn’t provide real security. It does nothing to change God’s love for us. Due to the consumerism so prevalent in our culture, it’s an ongoing battle for many people to let go of the fleeting gratification of things for the long-term security of a relationship with God.