It has been said that money and finances are spoken of over 800 times within the Christian Scriptures. But, if you take time to read those Scriptures, how many of them speak of money within the context of marriage? As far as I can tell, none. There are many wonderful general principles presented in those passages, but it is sometimes hard or impossible to put some of those ideas into practice in a marriage relationship.
Despite this fact, though, I think there is an example set for us within Scripture for how money should be handled in marriage, and that example is set forth within the early church.
Acts and money
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. (Acts 2:44-45 TNIV)
The best example of how money was treated in the early church is found at the very inception of the church. The people lived together, ate together, and worshiped together. But, they did so in community. These “believers were together and had everything in common.”
In marriage, we must first recognize that the couple is together and, in a sense, has all things in common. This is not to say that their identities bleed together and all sense of self is lost in the sense of the other. Individuality still stands strong, but, when it comes to things like possessions, ownership becomes sort of a moot point. “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine.” Not only does the married couple move in together, but they share common possessions. One couch, one recliner, one TV, one computer, one dinner table, one bed.
The thing to realize about money and marriage is that whatever, for example, the man brings in monetarily, it becomes the woman’s as well. The money is used to pay household bills, put food on the table, and provide for any other expenses may arise. It becomes hard for the wife to say she wants such and such and for the husband to say he wants this, that, and the other because they must take into account what combined needs are present in the relationship.
This is one of the reasons that finances are one of the biggest reasons for marital fallout. One or the other partner (or both in some instances) spends money in an inappropriate manner and leaves the relationship without something. As the strain of debt strangles one partner, it strangles the relationship as well and things fall apart.
At this juncture, some would say that this is why couples should start saving money right off the bat. But, sometimes, this is not so easily applied. Sometimes a couple may be completely responsible with their finances but come out only having just enough to barely get by. In these cases, saving is sometimes impossible. So I propose a better idea (not to belittle the importance of saving, of course).
A better means of heading off any financial disputes is to do so before they even occur. Communication is key when it comes to finances. As silly as it may sound, every purchase should be discussed prior to making it. And, if a surprise is in store, it must be done only if there are the funds available to do so without adding further strain. It’s as simple as that. When you go grocery shopping, stick to the list and only make extra purchases if they can be afforded after the list is complete. If one partner wants a book or a movie, make sure the money is available before purchasing it.
I also believe that finances must be, when possible, done jointly. Checkbooks must be balanced, groceries purchased, and bills paid openly and together. There should be no secrets and, when possible, both partners must know everything that is going on financially.
Money may not be able to make you happy, but managing it well can aid in keeping things from going sour.