Sharon says: I found out that Jack has spent us into a huge debt without my knowledge. Apparently, he’s been visiting department stores with our credit card, as well as making large purchases. I feel betrayed; it’s like financial infidelity.
He says: “It’s my money – I should be able to spend it however I want.”
Jack says: I earn the money – I should have the right to decide how to spend it. I don’t know why Sharon is getting so bent out of shape – it’s not like we are homeless because of it.
What do they do?
Marriage is not about “mine-is-mine and yours-is-yours,” it is about working together, sharing responsibilities and making joint decisions that benefit the family unit. Marriage is about selfless giving and not selfish taking. We are not surprised Jack and Sharon are experiencing issues surrounding their finances because the three constantly recurring marital challenges involve time, sex and money.
Finances are a crucial topic on the “must-discuss” list for all engaged and married couples. As with most marital challenges, finance issues need to be handled together – as a couple. Making joint decisions about finances are just as crucial as discussing your sexual desires and protecting the prime time you spend together. Finance issues should not be about who makes the money or even who spends the money, as it has more to do with how to manage it for the present and future. The independence as a family unit is tied to successful planning and handling of money.
It is a fact that most households have two breadwinners these days; some from necessity and some from desire. Consequently, it is really crucial that both husband and wife make time to talk to each other about the priorities of money and how it is to be spent. There is nothing wrong with Jack having a right to spend money being brought into the household, but the same is true for Sharon. Who gets to spend it doesn’t matter, as long as both agree to it and the decision is not made unilaterally.
Without making a big scene, one approach Sharon might wish to take is to share with Jack, choosing her words carefully, her concerns about the money Jack has spent and the impact it is having on their relationship. In turn, Jack should be ready to share with Sharon why he saw the need to put them into debt. Both Sharon and Jack should be prepared to acknowledge a possible issue that would be helped best by a professional.
Choosing the most effective words when sharing your concerns is important and should not be taken lightly. Scripture reminds us, “In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze.” (James 3:5) This is what strong negative words will do for your relationship; they can be devastating. Both Sharon and Jack appear to have strong feelings about this issue and both need to be sensitive and compassionate when discussing it. As marriage partners, respect and consideration are at the top of the list of prerequisites for a successful dialog. With this is mind, the reasons behind this issue has the potential to surface.
Deacon Tom Fogle and JoAnne Fogle help prepare couples for marriage.