My heart is heavy this afternoon as I've just learned of another marriage ending. As Paul and I advance in our mid to late 30's, the ends of friends' marriages are becoming more common. Each time it hurts. Each divorce breaks my heart because it breaks the hearts of those going through it.
If this is you, I am so sorry. I grieve alongside you. I am praying for you. I pray that no matter what you've been going through that has brought you to where you're at today, you will know the never-ending, overflowing, relentless love of God. If you've been hurt or are being hurt in your marriage, I grieve with you. Please get help.
No matter what happens on earth, nothing can separate you from the love of God. Hang on to that, my friend.
I came home this afternoon and went into Paul's office, teary eyed, to tell him again how thankful I am to be financially bound to him.
In love with him, yes. Proud of him, yes. Do I adore the guy? Yes. Do we have days when marriage is really hard? Absolutely. But am I also totally financially bound to him? Yes.
I lament too often about the challenges of our tight budget, but the truth is that there are great marital blessings of being "broke" that our culture will never tell you about. (Okay, we're not really broke. Paul has a great career and we are deeply grateful. Yet we also count every penny).
I stay home full time and have ever only worked in ministry, so we've never been swimming in extra income...We've never had "his money" and "her money." Every dollar is "ours." (Actually every dollar is God's and He is gracious to let us buy stuff with it).
I am completely, 100% financially bound to Paul. I completely depend on his income for our groceries and mortgage and heating and medical and toilet paper and clothing and, and, and.
And, actually he's financially bound to me too because there's no way he could ever afford a live-in nanny, personal chef, and housekeeper (actually I kind of fail at the house-keeping part of that, but he still couldn't afford me.)
And you know what? That's a beautiful thing. Being financially bound to one another because we're too "broke" to live without each other is a beautiful thing.
Easy? No way. Hard? Very. In the early days it was very hard and we had many an argument about money, ending in tears (me) and aggravation (him). But we have grown as one flesh and we no longer argue about money. Actually, we don't have enough spare money to argue about how we spend it, and that's a blessing too!
Being financially bound in marriage doesn't sound very romantic, I know. Oh but it is. Commitment creates romance, and we have no choice but to be committed to each other. And our financial state aids us in staying committed to one another because we can't afford to be apart from each other.
(Plus, being too broke to pay for outside entertainment actually does lead to romance after the kids go to bed!)
Another blessing of sharing every dollar is that we have to discuss every single purchase. And I mean every. single. purchase.
For instance, a year ago Paul told me he really needed new socks and underwear. Six months later he finally bought new socks and underwear. In January Paul spent about $10 on an apple slicer and we decided together to return it because it wasn't in the budget. Today I returned about $50 of excess clothing items I'd bought the kids and myself that we just didn't need and really didn't have extra money for.
Discussing every purchase down to socks and apple slicers provides numerous opportunities for communication, transparency, accountability and conflict resolution, and that in turn provides intimacy, humility, vulnerability, and accountability in marriage.
Discussing sock purchases may not be sexy conversation, but the humility it requires for a hard-working man to ask his wife if he can buy new socks is absolutely downright sexy.
I understand that separating the dollars might actually work for many marriages. But I think it's also wise to give a word of caution to this plan. When you get into "his money" and "her money," it can bring more stress and frustration to the marriage. Sure, perhaps there's a plan for which bills are paid from which account, but what about all those unplanned bills? Like the kitchen sink leaking or a medical emergency or the $500 deductible for a fender bender...These stressors can bring even more stress when you have to decide which one of you has to pay for them.
And second, the "fun money" accounts need accountability. It's not wise for husbands and wives to have their own money with no accountability from the the other half of the marriage. I've met too many men and women that didn't know their spouse was spending their "fun money" on porn, alcohol, gambling, or excessive shopping.
And third, no matter which dollars are whose, make sure you're giving together. Giving together draws your hearts together. Like Jesus said, "Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). When we give our financial treasure to other ministries, our hearts become uniquely tied to that ministry. Giving shapes our hearts for God; when married couples give together, their hearts become shaped together.
In the last couple years as I've been home full time, we've fallen behind on our giving. Not intentionally...but life happened and our giving fell. We've been praying about getting back on track with tithing, and the process is drawing our hearts together...a very good thing as two continually become one flesh.
And last, if you have enough money that you separate your dollars into his and hers, that's awesome. But don't let your financial assets allow you to think you can live without each other. Be transparent and honest with each other in all things. As the Bible tells us to "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21)...the married couple has to submit to one another in every way, including financially.
I realize this whole thing might sound very old fashioned. But the days when husbands and wives NEEDED each other were really good days. Marriages lasted until death almost all of the time because they "held fast" and "cleaved" (Genesis 2:24) to one another in all things.
Of course money isn't a cause of all marriages ending. Perhaps your heart is grieving the end of your marriage and money had nothing to do with the struggles. I know that money is only one of many struggles in marriage, but it is a leading cause. The Bible says that the "love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10) so we must acknowledge it's significance in human brokenness.
Money is a great gift but it also has the power to destroy us. This is why Jesus said, "You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24). God knows the hold that money can have on our hearts.
So in your marriage, no matter how many accounts you have or how much money you have, don't let it get to your heart. Because whatever is in your heart will either draw you together or keep you apart. Let your heart be full of love for God and love for one another.
Also, be mindful that your marriage has an enemy who is "the devil prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8) He wants to devour your marriage and your soul, and will use whatever means he can to do so - financial stress, lying, cheating, porn, overspending, misunderstanding, and so on. Whatever it takes. Be on guard. Pray that the armor of God would cover over your marriage and protect you.
And if you're like us and don't have nearly enough money for separate accounts, (some days we barely have enough money to keep one account above zero!), rejoice. You need each other. Let your financial state bind you together in a way that you are cleaving and holding fast to one another, as if one another is all you have.
If you're gonna be broke, you may as well choose to be broke and in love. Because sometimes being broke really can be a blessing.