(published in The Biblical Builder)
Imagine you are courting the love of your life, and one of you asks the other, “So, what do You believe a credit card is?” Not so romantic is it? It’s safe to say that most couples do not inquire too deeply into the area of financial beliefs; it’s not fun and it is certainly not romantic. Yet money tends to be one of the leading causes of disagreements, division and divorce.
While Christian couples share the same spiritual beliefs, many do not share the same financial beliefs and unfortunately the realization of these varying beliefs may not surface for months or years into a marriage
In counseling couples, I’ve found it helpful for spouses to have a “seek first to understand, then be understood” approach to discussing finances. Understand that your spouse more than likely had different influences while growing up, and different conditioning, being raised by his or her family, hearing conversations about money and seeing examples of handling money that may be quite different than what you experienced growing up.
Perhaps while you were growing up, you heard sayings like, “Money doesn’t grow on trees you know!”, or “Eat all your supper, there are starving children in Africa.” Or , as an example, if one spouse’s parents gave him or her just about everything they asked for, and the other spouse’s parents used guilt when asked for something, there are definitely some varying outlooks or beliefs that are instilled in these two people who are now a couple.
Witnessing how our parents handled and dealt with money issues has an enormous impact on our lives in how we view and handle money, both positively and negatively. Chances are we took on the same habits or disciplines as our parents; or, hopefully, recognized any destructive behavior and determined not to carry on that particular trait!
While early conditioning does not excuse unhealthy or destructive adult behavior, it is very helpful in gaining an understanding of current belief systems and patterns regarding money, which, once identified, can help overcome or reverse the unhealthy belief with a healthy, scriptural belief.
Let’s say someone does not “believe” in having a savings account. It could be, for example, that they witnessed their parents struggle to save but something always “came up” causing them to deplete their savings. Viewing their parents’ frustration, it’s easy to conclude that there is “no point” in savings, and thus, this person who is now an adult does not save money.
In this example, if the “unhealthy” belief is that “saving money just doesn’t work”, what could be the “healthy” alternate belief? A couple could look at the benefits of starting to save a certain amount every month so that, when unexpected expenses do occur, there is money (cash) saved to pay for it, and thank God for that, they did not have to borrow, use a credit card or do without. Yes, the savings balance dips, but as you continue the discipline of regularly setting money aside in savings, it grow again. We know it is wise and God- honoring to save as Proverbs 20:21 says, “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.”
For couples who desire to be on the same page financially, working together to better their family’s finances and enjoy a closeness that comes from a better understanding of each other in this vital area, I recommend the following exercise that should be approached lovingly and prayerfully with the goal of having a clearer understanding of each other rather than finger-pointing and blame:
With paper and pen ready ask these questions out loud and each spouse writes their own answers:
“What sayings about money did you hear while growing up?”
“What would you say your Father’s beliefs about money are (were)? Your Mother’s?”
“Do you think you have Accepted or Rejected those beliefs?”
“How do you believe this has influenced you today?”
Then share your answers with each other. If each person has been transparent, this exercise will certainly help couples have a better understanding of the financial influences which have impacted and conditioned them. This is a good starting point in the effort to strive together, honoring the Lord in your handling of money.
As the goal for the Christian is Christ likeness, the wisdom, knowledge and guidance needed is found in God’s Word. Please do not hesitate to seek the counsel or your Pastor, Adult Bible Teacher or other godly men in searching for Scriptural truths addressing these financial matters.
Also, you can contact me by e-mail, requesting Scriptures on the various aspects of money and finances, at: Tim.Rosen@att.net
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