By Terry Frisk
When my wife, Barb, and I were married, we pledged the traditional Christian vows to each other. While there may be some variations of these vows based on faith traditions, the pledge we made was:
“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part. According to God’s holy ordinance and thereto I pledge you my faithfulness.”
Like every marriage, we have certainly experienced each of these conditions throughout our marriage. Quite often, they are in a combination with each other. The better times occur when we are at our strongest physically and mentally and able to work to provide financial stability. The worse times are often brought on by illness that can limit our ability to earn income and incurring medical expanse that strains our finances. How we approach the ups and downs of our marriage is an expression of our faith in God and our love for each other. In Matthew 9:5 Jesus said:
“For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Becoming one in flesh relates to all aspects of marriage, including finances. Through the years, we learned the wisdom of combining our finances. There were years where I earned more than Barb and years where she earned more than I did. Because we pooled our incomes into a joint account, we viewed our income as equally contributed by both. Then, we decide together on how to allocate our combined finances. This can be challenging at times. One spouse may be into outdoor recreation (hunting, fishing, etc.) while the other may prefer different activities. Quite often, there is a significant difference in the cost to participate in these activities. How do you deal with this? Just like viewing income as contributed equally by each spouse, couples must recognize and agree on how they will spend or save their money may not be equal.
Here are some tips to help you and your spouse achieve financial harmony in your marriage:
- Remember that everything you have is a gift from God. God intends for you to be generous with your financial resources. Practice that generosity with each other.
- Work together to develop a budget. Recognize that achieving each other’s goals may not necessarily mean individual spending is equal. This may require compromising.
- When creating a budget, make giving and saving some of your income a priority. Recognize God’s gifts to you by giving back a portion. In addition, set aside some of your income during richer times so you have funds available to support the poorer times.
- Give each other latitude to spend the budgetedfinances as each see fit. But, consult one another on major purchases.
- Be transparent with each other to build the trust necessary for a successful marriage. Hiding income and spending is a recipe for disaster.
During our 43 years together, Barb and I have worked through many financial issues together. We probably disagree on issues as much as we agree. But, through prayer and open communication, we have worked through our financial struggles together. Those conversations are not always easy, but well worth it in the end.
Terry Frisk is a partner in the firm B2B CFO, providing financial advisory services to small businesses. He also counsels individuals on personal financial matters through the Cathedral of the Rockies Budget Counseling ministry. He may be contacted through e-mail at email@example.com.