5 Characteristics of a Lasting Marriage - Finances as a Team
In the first part of this series, we discussed how acceptance in a marriage is critical to building oneness and intimacy. One of the areas we discussed that we should have full authenticity is our finances. Our secular culture gives no real education about what role money plays in our lives and relationships. Very often children become adults having no idea of how much money their parents have saved or even what they earn. Talking about money is off-limits and people often become adults carrying irrational attitudes, beliefs, and anxieties about money or not knowing how to manage money. When they later enter a coupled relationship, these anxieties generally emerge.  In addition, we live in a culture with a divorce rate at 50% for first marriages and as high as 73% for subsequent marriages. As individuals enter marriage with the mindset of protecting their finances from an individualistic mindset, this creates a barrier to the oneness God intended for our marriages. The Bible gives us key principles to bring oneness to every aspect of our marriage, including financial stewardship. Matthew 19:4-6 tells us:
‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Our first three articles in this series, discussed ways to grow oneness in your marriage, through acceptance, conflict resolution and communication. Focusing on oneness in your marriage will demand a lifetime process of relying on God and forging an enduring relationship according to His design. At the core, it is allowing the Lord to grow us to come together to serve Him with a common direction, purpose, and plan. So, as we can see that in a biblical marriage; a husband and wife are one, the financial assets and incomes of both husband and wife should be merged and they should operate from a unified financial management base, rather than separately and independently. The thought of this may terrify you, because when we examine finances, financial problems may be only a symptom or a result of other family problems that exist. Not discussing your finances will not preserve your marriage; it will instead rob your marriage of true intimacy and a strong foundation.
We will examine three questions to gain better understanding on the current state of your Financial Unity:
1. Do you know more about your spouse sexually than financially?
This question may seem strange, but not within the context of our current culture. Studies show that couples are more likely to discuss their prior sex lives or their infidelities than their history of money (Atwood, 2012). We live in a society that has minimized the intimacy of sex as less valuable than the dollars in our bank account. Our culture wants us to exist in a world where a person is valued for the image they create than the reality of who they are. We bring these errancies into our marriage and when reality starts to break through, one of two things will occur:
You will find out that you don’t trust your spouse with your financial information (or they don’t trust you) and will be faced with the reality that there is a bigger issue in your relationship – self-interest ,a lack of trust, and no authenticity.
We will allow ourselves to be financial vulnerable to our spouse and begin to work together to build biblical financial intimacy in our marriages.
2. Are you or your spouse’s happiness driven by giving them the desired lifestyle in which they are comfortable or what you allow them to purchase?
We have all heard the phrase “Happy Wife, Happy Life”. As loving as that phrase seems, it actually is far from it. A relationship based on trying to make the other spouse happy is a recipe for disaster. Happiness is based on feelings and feelings can lead us astray. If our spouse engages in destructive financial behavior (such as a bad shopping habit, living in a home above what you can afford, buying items without regard to income/bills etc..) it will make them happy in the moment, but tear your marriage apart. We must lovingly encourage spiritual growth and character formation in our spouse, because marriage serves a bigger purpose, helping them to grow closer to God. So the phrase that should define our marriage is “Marriage isn’t about making you happy, it is about making you Holy”. 
3. If you/ your spouse lost your income/job that indefinitely changed your financial stability, would you still feel safe/secure that your marriage will last?
The “American Dream” is about earning your way to success. We find our identity, safety and security in the lifestyle we surround ourselves by. The Bible tells us that finding our identity in temporary things will always leave us wanting (Matthew 6:19-21) (Ecclesiastes 5:10)( 1 John 2:15-17). When we come to realize that everything is God’s and we are merely the managers, will we manage our finances with true intention. God owns everything. "We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either" (1 Timothy 6:7). Once couples accept the fact that God owns everything and they have been chosen to be stewards or managers of God's property, they will then understand to manage it according to His principles and standards and trust in the sovereignty no matter what financial status they are in. 
Overall, what does the Bible say about managing money? The answer can be summarized with a single word—wisdom. We are to be wise with our money (Luke 16:1-13). We are to save money, but not hoard it (Proverbs 6:6-11) We are to spend money, but with discretion and control (Proverbs 21:20 6:1-5; 20:16; 22:7, 26-27) (Ecclesiastes 5:5). We are to give back to the Lord, joyfully and sacrificially (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). We are to use our money to help others, but with discernment and the guidance of God’s Spirit (1 Timothy 5:8). It is not wrong to be rich, but it is wrong to love money (1 Timothy 6:6-11). It is not wrong to be poor, but it is wrong to waste money on trivial things (Prov. 14:29, 21:5) (Luke 16:1-13). The Bible’s consistent message on managing money is to be wise (Proverbs 1:5). 
Here are some questions to help you start working as a team in your financial stewardship:
How has your family of origin affected your view of giving, spending, saving, debt, etc…?
Are you a spender or a saver? Does your partner agree with your assessment?
Have you and your partner discussed any financial habits that make you nervous? If so, how do you think you will address them?
Would you consider yourself faithful in managing the resources God has stewarded you? Why or why not?
Who should be in charge of the budget? What responsibilities should the other partner have in regards to money? How do the concepts of oneness and spiritual leadership apply to the budget and finances/stewardship?
Brainstorm your short term and long term financial goals and then share them with each other. Short term goals should be what you can achieve in six months to one year. Long term goals might be achieved from one to ten years. Remember, your goals should be realistic, clear and specific.
o What do they have in common?
o Where are they different?
o Decide together as a couple on your common goals (you may have more than three short and long term goals). Talk about how you can each contribute to achieving these goals.
If you and your spouse would like to receive more information on how to steward your finances well, go to the Good Conversation Tab, and send us a note. We would love to send you free materials and resources to learn how to build a budget based on biblical principles. Also, you can sign up under our subscribe section to receive our updates and monthly newsletter.
 Couples and Money: The Last Taboo, JOAN D. ATWOOD: Marriage and Family Therapists of New York, Rockville Centre, New York, USA, 2012.
 Godwin,1990, p. 221
 Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage.
 © 2015 Watermark Community Church. All rights Reserved.