5 Money Questions For Marriage
Few things test a marriage like money. To be clear, money isn’t the root problem, but it does expose relational deficiencies and priorities. How a couple manages money will reveal what they really treasure and love. It will ultimately reveal the affection(s) of their hearts.
Here are five questions married couples can ask to evaluate whether or not they are honoring God and each other with their money and possessions.
(These questions are mostly applicable to single people, but the impetus for writing this blog is a session I always do on money for those who seek premarital counseling.)
- Do we think biblically about God’s money? The money you possess is really God’s money. “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains; the world and those who dwell in it.” (Ps. 24:1) Seeking to build your own kingdom and security by your own power instead of being rich toward God is foolish (Luke 12:13-21). If God is not first place, then something else is, and how you think about God and money will show it. If you don’t see your money in a God-centered way, then money and what it affords will become to you a god and savior.
- Do we practice joyful generosity toward God’s people? The discussion about how much is one worth having, but what is biblically clear is that God wants those who belong to Christ to be generous in giving and He wants them to be cheerful about it (2 Corinthians 6:9-12). God is concerned with both the quantity and quality of your giving. It really is quite simple; God wants us to supply the needs of the saints for their well-being and the work of ministry (2 Corinthians 9:12 and 1 Timothy 5:17-18), and so He asks all who belong to Christ to be generous. God is most glorified when we do this joyfully and not under compulsion. Our giving should be gospel-driven and motivated by God giving the greatest gift of all; His only begotten Son, Jesus (2 Corinthians 8:9). This is one of the primary ways to answer the first question: “Are we rich toward God?”
- Do money and possessions produce ongoing conflict and tension in our marriage or other relationships? If there is constantly conflict over money, then there is likely one of two reasons. First, there is no reasonable expectation by which the couple can communicate about spending. This is why a budget is so important. The budget is a visible and agreed upon expectation that both people seek to honor. With a budget, both people know what is coming in, and they both have agreed to a plan by which the money is spent and goes out. The expectation of a budget provides the opportunity for accountability and a shared cause. Second, there is a lack of communication about the shared expectation. Someone has to take the primary responsibility to track expenses and communicate the budget reality in a considerate, clear and kind way. Both people should agree who the point person will be, and then they have to be willing to communicate and agree upon how the money should be spent. When there is no reasonable expectation for expenses and little or no communication, then trust is eroded, and conflict is inevitable.
- Do we have excessive and perpetual debt? Look, with the exception of Dave Ramsey, few people are going to fault you for having a mortgage and reasonable car loan. But if debt causes you to take on more debt when the need for normal expenditures arise like car maintenance and vacations, then you have too much debt. If debt keeps you from being generous toward God and His people, then you have a debt problem. If debt is a constant source of conflict, then you might need to revisit number three. Sure, sometimes things happen that are beyond our control and we have to take steps that might create debt. But the truth is this: A lot of debt, if not most, is avoidable. No debt is best, but debt that steals joy, kills relationships and destroys opportunities is nothing less than a slave (Proverbs 22:7).
- Are we trapped by materialism? Again, look at questions one, two and four to get started answering this question. From there ask: Do we have more than we can take care of in time and money? Is our greatest joy found in the stuff that we claim to own? How do we respond when it gets old, dinged, damaged or destroyed? Do we worry about our stuff more than we worry about eternal matters like the souls of people and those who have almost nothing presently? Do we own our stuff or does our stuff own us? Does our stuff cause strife with others that we love and care about? When we look back on our lives, will we have given our best energy and time to the acquisition of possessions that will not last? Are we going into debt to have stuff that we actually can’t afford? Are we able to live within a budget and have delayed gratification if there is something we really want? Will we ever have enough? When will enough be enough? If you can’t be happy without money and possessions, then you will likely never be happy with them – at least not for long.
Money is not bad. As a matter of fact, God can use it for all sorts of good in the life of our marriage and other relationships. But we have to be willing to ask some tough questions and be honest about the place of money in our lives. Get a-hold of your money, or it will have hold of you.