9 Misconceptions of Money in Marriage
In a world that is marked by misconceptions of money and misguided notions about finances, it is crucial to anchor our understanding in timeless truths, especially for those of us who hold a Biblical worldview. As a former Pastor and an advocate for solid Biblical stewardship, I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact that financial misunderstandings can have on relationships. Drawing from our years of experience and from transferable principles in the Word of God, in today’s episode we will navigate through 9 common misconceptions of money that can hinder marital harmony, and explore the Scriptural principles that pave the way for a prosperous partnership built on truth, love, and responsible, Biblical stewardship.
1. “It’s MY Money. I made it, I can spend it!”
Having this “my money vs. your money” mindset is setting the married couple up for an eventual firestorm! When one spouse, or both spouses believe that keeping finances separate is the best way to maintain independence and avoid conflicts, they are kicking the can down the road until there is a financial challenge that would cause money to be spent from one account into paying a bill/expense of the other spouse. This misconception divides the couple and it does not bring about “oneness” (the two shall become one) in your marriage and it puts your spouse on the defense when needs arise. All good and solid Biblical premarital counseling would clearly tell the couple that they need to work together as a team to achieve common financial goals, for both today and in the future!
2. “It’s YOUR debt. You’ve incurred it, you pay for it!”
There is a trend happening now where young married or newly married couples are treating the debt in the marriage (either brought in or new debt) as separate concerns. This creates another layer of polarization within the marriage, rather than jointly addressing them as a team, which can impact both partners’ financial well-being. Remember what Jesus did… “All of my riches for all of your sins.” Jesus paid our debt that we could not pay back. In marriage, your debts become both of your debts.
3. “More money will solve all of our issues.”
Believing that more money will automatically lead to a happier marriage, more satisfying marriage is clearly overlooking the importance of effective communication, emotional connection, and shared values.
“…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.” (Proverbs 30:8, NIV84)
In other words, God, you are my provider, give me what I NEED (not more, not less) and I will be beyond blessed and thankful to you Lord!
4. “I’ll be happy when…”
- “…We buy a house”
- “…We get a nicer car”
- “…We have children”
(Things will make me happy…)
- Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NIV84) “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.”
- Luke 12:15 (NIV84) “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
- Hebrews 13:5 (NIV84) “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”
Is God enough for you in your days of “less”?
5. “Lack is my biggest problem.”
“The whole issue of not really having anything in the first place. Can’t have money disagreements if there is no money to begin with!”
I would say that the above statement is false. The arguments would be WHERE the money is going and how much of it if there is discretion in the cost. If there is “lack” of income, what is the plan to meet you and your family’s needs and get moving forward financially? There needs to be an actionable plan! If there is a will, there is a way! If there is lack, the two questions that need to be asked are: Why is there lack? And…what can you do to change it?
If there will be continued “lack” of income, can you be like the Apostle Paul and be “content” in this circumstance? Both you and your spouse? This may need to be your new prayer moving forward. And, allow this “Lack” of money to drive you two toward each other, not away from each other, for it will have to be an intentional action for you both!
In many cases, “lack” is not your problem. Your problem could be either not choosing to live within your means, or not choosing to increase your income so you can meet your needs. People live with “less” all the time. It is how they choose to live, and/or move forward that could be the problem!
6. “If we’re a financial mess, our marriage is doomed.”
The thinking for the couple is that our past financial mistakes will prevent us from making any forward progress. This is VERY true if you do not make the needed changes in your life and financial practice! Changes that could, or should, be made include:
- Practice…what you are actually doing now that has led you to this point…
- Possibly income stream change…
- Reduction of expenses
- Possibly extreme reduction of expenses (sell vehicles, house/condo)
- Expectations…on many levels (necessities, luxuries, daily life [needs/wants])
It did not take a day, week, month or year to get you to where you are financially, so it may take just as long (or longer) to get yourselves into positive territory financially.
- SLOOOW and steady WILL win this race!
- A solid plan of action (diligent budgeting) will propel you forward
- A reduction of expectations will NEED to be part of this plan
- Contentment is a HUGE asset in forward progress!
“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11–13, NIV84)
7. “It would be better for us to divorce and start over again independently, than it would be for us to try to work this out.”
Divorce almost always makes a money problem worse. Divorce divides the money, so you by definition have less than when you started. However, if you have one spouse that’s a complete financial wreck, the spouse that is not the basket case could potentially come out better. But money conflict is not a Biblically justified reason for divorce.
Here are some of the money/financial aspects that need to be thought through if considering divorce…
- Legal Fees: Divorce can be expensive due to legal fees, court costs, and other associated expenses. It may worsen your financial situation in the short term.
- Division of Assets and Debts: Depending on your jurisdiction, assets and debts acquired during the marriage may need to be divided between you and your spouse. This could affect your financial stability.
- Alimony or Spousal Support: In some cases, one spouse may be required to provide financial support to the other, especially if there’s a significant income disparity between you and your spouse.
- Child Support: If you have children, there could be child support arrangements that you need to consider, which may impact your financial situation.
- Change in Living Arrangements: After divorce, you might need to establish a new household, which can come with its own set of financial responsibilities.
Divorce for the believer should NEVER be an option outside of the Biblical reasons. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run to link arms together and push through these challenges!
8. “A perfect budget means a happy marriage”
A clear answer to this is NOPE! Also, there is never a “perfect” budget! Budgets are elastic. They ebb and flow depending on what season of life you are in, what challenges you are going through and what financial “sucker punches” come your way. There is NEVER a perfect budget. A happy marriage is that you and your spouse are together, no matter what the world would throw at you! You link arms together and do “life” together, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer!
9. Avoiding Money Conversations
Money conversations in marriage can be, and often are, controversial and confrontational. But this is only if there is a history of poor or non-existent communication in the marriage! Money conversations that frequently blow up into arguments may not be a money issue at all, for it very well may be a communication issue.
If there is an ongoing avoidance of talking about money in the marriage, what needs to be asked is, why is there no talking about money?
- If it is that it always ends up in an argument, SEEK HELP!
- Professional counselors can assist in communication skills that will move you two forward.
- Pastoral counseling can also help a couple kick-start right communication skills so they can talk openly and freely about money matters in the marriage.
For one or both spouses to believe that discussing money matters will only lead to arguments, and choosing to avoid such conversations altogether, it very well can lead to unaddressed issues and resentment, thus needing more professional help. Remember, your spouse is not your enemy!
- As you deal with these misconceptions of money, you need to have awareness of your own situation
- Communication between spouses is critical to have full awareness of where you two are…and discussions about where you two would like to be in the years ahead.
- There may be, what we call a “Worldview issue” – the problem with worldviews is that everyone has their own. Our worldviews are shaped by our experience, our upbringing, and our resources. What we need to do is allow our worldviews to be refined by Scripture.
- Romans 12:1-2 “…Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
- This is not just one of the spouses being “renewed” in heart and mind, but usually both spouses need to be transformed into a Biblical financial framework which will manifest in a healthy and Biblically structured worldview.
- When both spouses are re-aligning their world view to a Biblical worldview of money, finances and stewardship, it will, without a doubt open up a whole new Biblical, cohesive and unified financial/stewardship plan that will bring oneness on many levels in your marriage.
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