Managing Money in Marriage

by J. Allan Petersen

Some psychiatrists say that if most unmarried persons realized what it takes to make a truly happy, successful marriage, they'd forget the whole idea.

Nothing else is as exposed to the shifting winds of human nature as is marriage. Each person makes his own individual contributions to a marriage. He brings his unique personality and a backlog of experiences that have molded his attitude toward life and toward people.

I recall one almost unbelievable incident involving a particular couple. The wife, in sheer desperation, said to me:

"Mr. Petersen, you're a counselor. What should I have done? My husband ordered me to sign for a $14,000 loan. And when I said, 'For what?,' he replied, 'Never mind! Just sign it.'" Here was a husband who expected his wife to commit herself to a burden of debt. But was he committing himself to explain?

Certainly not! Now, that's gall!

Husband a Tyrant

This man probably entered marriage with the personality of a tyrant. Perhaps he's living out the pattern set by his parents. His father might have ruled his wife with an iron hand. And such marriages have little chance of being happy.

But this man brought something else to his marriage. It was his attitude toward people and money. He used everyone he could to get what he wanted. He demanded that his wife sign for a loan to cover-what? A gambling debt? A new car? Whatever it was, she had every right to know before she signed for the loan.

The Word of God is right on target concerning marital relationships. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it. . . . He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church" (Eph. 5:25,8,29).

Marriage is giving--giving love and honor, courtesy and consideration. It also involves money and management of money, often a cause of considerable friction and disharmony in many marriages. Poor money management can literally wreck a marriage.

Four Guidelines

Couples should be guided by four principles of managing money if their marriages are to be harmonious according to the Scriptures, and in the Lord's will.

First, there should be no secrets. Both partners must be fully aware of the family's financial status. No private income should be unknown to the other party; no deception should be allowed.

Second, there should be no master-slave attitude: "I made this money. I'll decide how it's to be spent!" The wife working in the home has as much right to the income as her husband has. Any income earned by either party should be shared by both.

Third, there should be no cheating. Whatever plan has been established, both partners must agree to it and, if at all possible, stick to it. When that's not possible, they should talk it over and agree to shift gears.

Fourth, there should be no forgetting where the money comes from. Who gives a person the natural aptitudes and talents he was born with, the opportunity for education and training, his health, the strength to work, the brain to think-all the necessary equipment for earning a living?

These all come from God! It's the fool whose attitude says, "There is no God" (Ps. 14:1). Everyone is on God's great earth, using His facilities and the power He's given us to earn money. And He expects some return on His investment.

Wrong Attitude Typical

A man's poor attitude toward his wife can be typical of the attitude many people have toward God. They figure God is obligated to do whatever they want done, in case they decide to use His services. Yet they never commit themselves to Him. Well, it just doesn't work that way!

To those who have turned from sin and committed themselves totally to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God says, "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it" (John 14:14). "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him" (1 John 5:14,15).