When you get married you make a covenant with one another and as you do so you become ‘one flesh’, so if you are reading this and your spouse is not, then why not lovingly encourage him/her to join with you in this study. The way forward is not found in simply implementing a financial plan, but by allowing the word of God to transform your thinking and your planning. (Re)discover the joy of communicating in these matters with one another – and, if you have children, plan how you can help them because the challenges when they leave home may be greater today than ever before.
My former Pastor, Johnny Hunt, says the two primary causes of marital breakup are money and lack of communication and the reason they are not communicating is often because of money problems.
Debt has grown over the past forty years and this has fed an increasingly materialistic society with a ‘have it, and have it now’ mentality – buying on credit, paying later or stretching the home loan. There is no age barrier to this debt-creep – even those who are retired have not retired as free of debt as they once might have envisaged.
The financial difficulties that many households face have many causes and can be exacerbated by investments that rise only to plummet and a ‘retirement pot’ that is often inadequate. The seeds of anxiety and discord may never be far from the door. To make matters worse, guidance on how to handle money may have had only a brief mention when you lived at home – and if you have children maybe that is still the case.
Steps to help manage your finances as a couple
These have worked for others, so why not you?
Step 1: Plan to do this together
Often one spouse takes responsibility for the finances. I am an accountant and have owned three businesses, yet my wife, who has no bookkeeping qualifications, masterminds our finances – pretty much from A to Z. A word to the spouse who is stronger in this area – do not dominate or get frustrated if your spouse is not as good at this as you are. Do what you can to lovingly help your partner understand the household’s finances.
Step 2: Pray
You may not have done this before at home, but I recommend you both get on your knees and pray. It is not that God will not hear your prayers if you do not, but rather you are giving God the honour He deserves – as you bend your knees you are submitting your will to Him as you both draw close to Him, and so to one another.
Step 3 Position
I strongly recommend that you each take five minutes to write down what state you think your finances are in – what needs fixing and what does not. Alongside each statement you might write a number from 1 (easy) to 5 (very difficult) to indicate how difficult a situation it is to address. You might also wish to add another column for the number of months/years you think it will take to change the situation. Then compare what you have each written and prepare a combined status report to see where you are in agreement and where there are differences in how you see the situation - or perhaps where there might be some ‘blind spots.’ If you can, agree a joint way forward. Throughout, make sure you remain positive and share together as humbly as you do when you pray.
Step 4 Pray again!
Pray about your way forward, continuing to ask God for wisdom. Find time for one another – enjoy each other’s company. Plan another time to repeat the process.
If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. Matthew 18:19, NLT