Ask Dr. Ron: What about the Money? . . . Financial Stress in Marriage

 

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IMG_7570_1024Money may be the thing married couples fight about the most. As a matter of fact, one statistic tells us that the #1 reason why first marriages are ending in divorce is financial stress.  This financial stress is triggered by things like reduced income/same expenses, divorce, poor money management, underemployment, gambling, medical expenses, saving too little or not at all, no money-communication skills, student loans, credit card debt, and financial illiteracy.

We know that God takes our finances seriously as He has a lot to say about them in the Bible.

For example, in the New Testament Jesus says more about money issues than He does about Heaven and Hell combined!

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the young pastor Timothy tells him, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs,” (1 Timothy 6:10 NASU).

Let’s be clear here, Paul is NOT saying that money is evil, sinful, and wrong. Rather, he is warning Timothy to guard from getting emotionally attached to money. This is where the troubles begin. I think what Maxine Marsolini says in her book, Blended Families, is spot on when she writes, “Money—the very word wells up emotion in us. I marvel at how easy it is to become defensive over money issues. There is nothing we possess (outside of love) that is not impacted by money. Next to health, most of us recognize the almighty dollar as life’s biggest necessity. It’s time to mentally redefine money. By defining money in its truer sense, as a tangible resource and practical tool given by God to be used as a medium of exchange through which our family’s daily needs and even occasional desires are met, we give our currency a non-emotional identity.

By removing our emotional attachment to money we can scrutinize our actions, set goals, and see where we lack sound structure with personal finances.”

So strong is the pull of money, that Paul says some have “wandered away from the faith” as a result of their love for it. The thought here could be that Paul knew of some who walked away from receiving saving faith because of their love for money; much like the Rich Young Ruler who walked away from receiving Christ, (Matthew 19:16-22). Secondly, Paul could be telling Timothy that some believers have walked away from a close, growing relationship with Christ and as a result have lost their fruitfulness. Either way the results are very negative, because they have “pierced themselves with many griefs.” The bottom line is that greed leads to sorrow and grief in anyone’s life.

When it comes to marital finances one of the biggest solutions to money problems is to talk about them. Be forthright and honest about things like your debt and adopt a policy of transparency when it comes to purchases.

I highly recommend taking the class Financial Peace University as it covers every area of finances and has been successful in helping reduce financial stress in many marriages.

That last thing we want to do is to give the enemy one more foothold in our marriages and families to “steal, kill, and destroy, (John 10:10).

Ask Dr. Ron: So, What about the In-laws?

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IMG_7570_1024Over many years of marriage counseling I have had a plethora of questions like the following:

  • My mother-n-law gives us NO privacy, what am I supposed to do?
  • My father-n-law tries to make financial decisions for us, how should we respond?
  • Our parents like to tell us how to discipline our children, what’s up with that?

Whether it’s your nosy mother-n-law, or a father-n-law who thinks he can help you with your finances, relationships with in-laws can trigger some serious tension in your relationship.

First, remember that you are not alone in this situation. Most marriage relationships suffer from time-to-time with stress brought on by in-law relationships. You are not the first nor the only couple this has happened to.

Second, recognize that it’s very easy for you to be critical of her parents, but not as easy to see the stress your family causes her. The point is this; we often have “blind-spots” in certain areas of our lives.

Third, apply the marriage principle God unveils in Genesis 2:24 where He gives this critical instruction to ALL married couples,

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” NASU

The first step in applying this principle is the “leaving” part. The closer your partner’s family is the harder this is sometimes. Unfortunately this is not a step that you can just decide to “skip.” It’s impossible to “join” something new when you have not “left” something else. The word picture portrayed in this first step of “leaving” is that of loosening the grip on something, or in this case . . . someone. So, God isn’t telling newlyweds here to sever their relationship with their parents. He isn’t suggesting they never see nor talk to them again. That is not the “leaving” He is talking about here. He is, however saying, you need to loosen your grip on dad and mom, stand on your own two feet, allow you and your partner to make decisions that before may have been made by your parents. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask parents for advice after to say your “I Dos.”

The second part or step in this principle is the “joining” step. God says after one has left the parents, he/she is to “be joined” to his wife or her husband. The word used here has the idea of catching someone by pursuit and then clinging to them. Certainly the physical consummation of the marriage is involved here, but it goes beyond just physical union. The new husband and wife must also get on and be on the “same page.” Just to mention a few, here are several areas couples need to get on and stay on the same page about:

  • Finances
  • Raising the children
  • Marriage roles
  • Communication / Conflict Resolution
  • Relationships (personal & family)

Although these two steps (leaving & cleaving) are both sometimes more of a process than a push-button act, when the leaving & cleaving are pursued God promises, “they shall become one flesh.”

So, when any married couple is determined to obey Genesis 2:24 and become one flesh, that is their greatest defense and antidote for the many “in-law issues” they may face throughout their marriage.