Is Money An Issue In Your Marriage?
Consider this scenario. You’re in the early stages of a conversation with a friend and hear one side of their story. You love them and want to help, and you think you have biblical counsel to offer.
But not long after, you discover essential missing details and see the bigger picture. Now you look back at your initial response and wish you had known more about the situation before commenting.
Because I have written a book on marriage, my ministry receives questions all the time from couples facing difficulty or in the middle of a disagreement. I love receiving these appeals for help because I believe that the gospel, which is the only wisdom I have, is up to the task.
But there’s a significant problem with these questions and my ability to answer them: I know essentially nothing about the details behind the issue presented to me.
(If I were in a counseling environment with a husband and a wife for many sessions, I would be able to ask a sequence of investigative questions to discover more about the circumstances.)
This made writing a bonus Q&A chapter for Marriage: 6 Gospel Commitments Every Couple Needs to Make challenging. So rather than trying to provide specific counsel without necessary background information, I determined to answer, “How does the gospel of Jesus Christ give us a big-picture perspective on the most recurring marriage problems?”
Here’s a common dilemma that every married couple has faced: disagreements over money!
It’s regular for couples to have financial quarrels. One of the Bible’s most addressed topics is our money because God designed us to live in a world where money is integral. Since money looms so large and encroaches on almost every area in our lives, there will be times when you disagree about the use of money.
But I am deeply persuaded the arguments over money are seldom a mathematical or budget issue. They have to do with how you view your spouse and how you view God’s design for money.
First, your spouse. God’s goal in marriage is not uniformity; his goal is unity. Uniformity is having little to no differences, but unity is what you do in the face of difference.
God’s beautiful design is to place me next to my spouse, who is different from me and doesn’t see money the way I see it, to mature me and create dependence on him.
When dealing with financial differences in your marriage, you must treat your spouse with appreciation and grace. Don’t demean them because they happen to look at a monetary decision differently from you.
It cannot be the husband’s way against the wife’s way because whoever has the most power and can pull out the best weapons will win the battle. That’s not unity.
Second, what does God want for us as we unite together in our use of money? In a word: generosity! (There’s so much more that could be said, but I don’t have space for it in this devotional)
I’m concerned that the typical Christian marriage discussion of money revolves around debt elimination, financial stability for retirement, and the mathematical classification of a tithe. None of these is wrong, and all are helpful somehow, but the whole plan is devoid of the broader considerations of our call: to live as God’s generous and loving ambassadors on earth.
When a husband and wife get excited about generosity, you will experience a unity in your finances that you’ve never had before.
Appreciation. Unity. Generosity. This is how you begin to solve your money problems in marriage.
Paul David Tripp
P.S. – 15 other answers are included in my bonus chapter, “Ask Paul Tripp about Your Marriage,” a new addition to Marriage: 6 Gospel Commitments Every Couple Needs to Make.
1. Do you view yourself as a counselor? If not, consider how many times a day you share opinions or reactions to others. What impact might these unintentional words have on the hearer?
2. How has the Word of God provided you with wisdom that you can use to encourage others? Who has God placed in your life that you can offer truth to?
3. Do you talk too much or respond too quickly? Consider how you can ask better questions, take time to pray before responding, and become a better listener. Be specific in your reflection.
4. What was (or currently is) the last money argument you had with your spouse? What caused the issue? Go beyond the superficial facts and consider the deeper root of the disagreement. What did this expose about your heart?
5. How did upbringing, education, and cultural values shape your view of money? How does this differ from your spouse? How is their perspective a beautiful, God-ordained balance to your background?
6. What are some ways that you and your spouse can unity using generosity in the coming days, weeks, and months? How can you incarnate the generosity of Christ with your finances, and how can this generosity lead to practical opportunities to share the gospel?