Archives For Marriage

       A reader asked me what you should do when you want to give more but your spouse is not a Christian. It’s especially difficult because she doesn’t want to go against her husband’s wishes. This issue can be hard for women who want to honor their husbands as God’s Word teaches but also want to honor God. However, I think a similar approach should be used for men married to non-Christian women as well.

       I don’t have personal experience with this, so I don’t pretend to know all the answers. If any readers have dealt with this, please share your thoughts in the comments. I will, however, attempt to approach this from a Biblical and practical perspective in an effort to help people deal with this challenging problem.

Pray

       As in all things, we must seek God’s will first. Prayer is one way we communicate with God. When you feel God’s Spirit leading you to give more but your spouse is not a Christian and does not want to give more, your first step must be prayer. Specifically, here are some matters you can pray about:

  • Your Spouse’s Salvation – Not so your life will be made easier, but so they will receive eternal life.
  • Wisdom – For how you should approach this situation with love and grace when discussing it with your spouse.
  • Guidance – For what you should do if your spouse is not willing.
  • Patience – To wait upon the Lord and to continue being a light to your spouse despite the difficult struggles you face.



       God will give you His strength to handle this task. If He is calling you to give more, then He will provide you with a method to make it happen.

Talk with Your Spouse

       Next, you should approach your spouse lovingly and graciously to share what God has placed on your heart. Focus on gracious speech – do not accuse your spouse or attack them. You may be surprised by their response. Try to share where God is leading you to give and why. Talk about ways you could give more by focusing on contentment and the generous blessings you already have.

       If your spouse is completely opposed to the idea, do not press the issue and cause an argument. Doing so could damage your witness to them. Listen to their viewpoint and see if a compromise could be made. Here’s an example:

       Let’s say your spouse doesn’t want to give up anything they’re used to so you can give more. The two of you have budgeted a weekly amount for you to buy lunches at work. Offer a compromise. You’ll pack your lunches and use the money you save to increase your giving. This way your spouse doesn’t give up anything and you still get to increase your giving. Or maybe you have a way you could earn some extra money on the side. You could offer to have some of it go to your joint budget while using the rest to increase your giving.

Give Your Time

       If your spouse is completely opposed to increasing your monetary giving in any way, you could look at ways to donate some of your time. Again, this is probably something you should discuss with your spouse. You must also be careful that your volunteering will not cause you to neglect your relationship. But a couple hours a week can really help a mission or charity quite a bit without causing much stress on your marriage.

Continue to Pray

       Finally, you must continue to pray about the situation. This is a difficult situation and can be extremely trying on your faith. Continue to seek strength from God and pray for your spouse’s salvation. Honor your spouse and live a life of generous, sacrificial love just as Jesus did. I am not saying your should sacrifice your relationship with God to keep your marriage intact, but you must do your best to be a light to your spouse in all situations. A mature Christian (of the same sex) can provide helpful counsel and encouragement during this trial in your life, so seek fellowship and support if needed.

Your Thoughts?

       What do you all think? Is this a Biblical approach to the situation? What are some other ideas that could help someone deal with this issue? How have you handled it in your own life? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Marriage is a big step in most people’s lives. Before you get married, buy a house together, etc., it is good to ask various questions in order for you to understand your other future half better. No matter how much you think you know someone, there are always new things to discover and figure out.

Figuring out things that may lead to future money problems is always a good idea. Talking too much with your significant other is not a real thing, talk about as much as you can!

Of course marriage is not all about money, but it is a good idea to talk about money. A lot of our lives involve money, whether we like it or not. Being prepared for anything that might happen is always a good thing.

1. How will money be divided?

This is a big topic that needs to be talked about before you make any big decisions with your significant other. Will all of your money going into one pot and you both share it? Or will bills be divided in half or by percentage according to how much each of you make?

If this is not talked about until after you get married or until after you buy a house, things might not turn out so well because there is the possibility that someone will be very surprised if its not something that they wanted.

2. How much debt do you each have?

Money may not be everything to you, but how much debt is too much? What if the person who you have been with for a couple of years secretly had been hiding debt from you? It’s best to talk about something like this before you get married or make any other big decision together.

If you found out that your spouse had $100,000 in credit card debt, would this change how you felt about this person?

3. Will there be a prenuptial agreement?

Many people think negative things out prenuptial agreements, such as how they are not “romantic” or completely defeat the purpose of getting married. However, in many instances, it can be extremely beneficial.

4. What are your goals?

Talking about retirement is important as well. Even though retirement is most likely far, far away for the both of you, you can never truly talk about it enough. How will the two of you save for retirement? If something does end up happening in the end where the two of you are no longer together, how retirement will be divided among the two of you or what will happen should be planned out.

Talking about when retirement will happen is important as well. If one of you wants to stay home when there are children, this should be talked about if you know for sure. Something big such as staying home can drastically change your family’s retirement goals.

5. Who will manage the money?

Managing money in the household is important. Usually one person does this in order to eliminate anything repetitive and to limit the amount of time doing household financial things.

However, both you and your partner should know how the money and financial events are ran in the household. This is so that if something happens to either of you which would limit your financial life and bills being paid, then at least the other person knows how to do so. Disruptions can be expensive!

What did you make sure to talk about before you got married?

Gay marriage and/or rights has been a recent controversy within Christian circles. While many still believe that homosexual behavior and feelings are against God’s will, others believe the exact opposite. But, it isn’t just Christians talking about same sex marriage. In fact, in the past few months major corporations have joined the conversation in support of Gay marriage. Starbucks has officially joined the conversation, supporting gay marriage in Washington. As a result, social networks have flooded with either support for or against Starbucks.

Why Starbucks’ Support for Same Sex Marriage is Important to Some

To say that this topic has polarized Christian groups would probably be an understatement. Despite the validity of each position, I would like to focus on the recent events, with particular attention to the undying support of Starbucks as a result of their stance on gay marriage. Whether you would identify yourself as part of this group, there is a large group of progressive or liberal (to apply restricting labels) Christians who are in favor of same sex marriage and rights. It is their belief that equality is a fundamental aspect of Christianity and the only way to promote this is through equal rights on all fronts. These groups and churches often focus more on social justice issues than anything else.

As a result of the recent stir around Starbucks’ support, many of said Christians expressed their undying support of Starbucks’ action via facebook, twitter, and any other popular social networks. Truth be told, I was inundated from these to social networks by numerous people – regardless of Christian affiliation (or lack there of). For those in support of these corporations’ stance on this legislation, it is often in response to the hostility that gay and lesbians have received. Therefore, support of Starbucks action is not about a corporation or some legal issue, but the person or persons who have been harassed by others. It is a bold claim that no one deserves to be treated this way.

What does Support of Starbucks Pro Gay Marriage Stance Mean?

Regardless of the reasons behind this issue (especially within Christianity), I can’t help wonder the motivation behind corporations actions to support such rivaled issued. Why would Starbucks want to support a cause that could lose them business? As a business, whose mindset is to earn a large profit for them and their shareholders, is it really about the issue?

While I would like to see that major corporations and businesses actually care about social issues, my hunch is that marketing experts know this. Starbucks has long faced criticism for its failure to abide by fair trade regulations. I believe they have learned their lesson they can no longer sit on the sidelines while legislation that affects the society is being played out. Instead, by playing an active role in this issue, they not only jump to the forefront of the media, but also gain back some of that mistrust with those still upset by their decision to ignore fair trade regulations.

We all know that politics is a game of hot-button issues. When you ask people who they are voting for in the upcoming elections or what party they will vote, many people have now learned to reply with one simple sentence…

“I vote according to the issues”

Whether we want to recognize it or not, this is what I believe is being carried out here. Starbucks is in need of public support and this is an easy way to do it. While it may push some business away, it will most likely gain support of former Starbucks protesters and increase revenue. Unfortunately, the motivation of greed is a strong force and continues to play a larger influence in political affiliations.

Readers, why do you think Starbucks is supporting such a debated issue? Is it out of genuine interest or do they have ulterior motives.

I Am More Than My Income

Corey —  August 17, 2010 — 7 Comments

       A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article as a follow up to the post I did on creating a balance sheet and calculating your net worth. It was called “You Are More Than Your Net Worth“. In the article, I said this:

       There is danger in obsessing over your net worth – in defining your success based on a number. It is wise for you to prudently manage your finances, and tracking your net worth is part of that process. But you must always be aware that your value comes not from what you own but from who you are in Christ. It is in being a child of God that Christians find their true worth.



       I went on to quote a few Bible verses and back up my point quite well (if I do say so myself).

       But I have to admit something to you.

       Apparently, I still don’t get it.

       That’s right. I sat here behind the computer writing about how you shouldn’t base your value on your net worth. But last week, I found myself rating my value based on how much income I’m earning (or not earning, in this case). Let’s back up a bit and get the story.

Laid Off

       In late 2008, I was laid off from my job at a financial planning firm. (Stock Market Decline + % of Assets under Management Compensation Business Model + Recent Expansions + Less than One Year at the Firm = Bye, Bye Paul!) This happened about six months before I married Michelle. Since then, I’ve been working to start my own business, but it’s been a slow start. I’ll be profitable this year, and that’s saying something. But I’ve taken a huge drop in my income for now.

       I could have possibly found another job working at another financial planning firm. But the problem was that I was tired of conflicts of interest and I was tired of catering only to the very rich. After a lot of prayer and discussion with Michelle, we both agreed I should start my own firm and do it in a way that meshes with my ethics.

       Fast forward to today, and I’m working on growing my business and pursuing other ways to earn a living in the meantime. Thankfully, Michelle makes enough working as a nurse that we’re still able to meet our living expenses. God is caring for us during this time. But recently I’ve found myself depressed and judging my own value based on the lack of income I’m bringing in for our family. (It’s just us two right now, but we’d like to have kids someday.)

Who’s Really Running the Show?

       Maybe it’s a guy thing – I want to feel like I’m providing for my wife. But that’s just stupid really. Nothing I have or ever will have has come only from my hands. God has created everything, and everything I have or will have comes from Him. When I give, I’m not giving my money – I’m giving the money God has entrusted to me. When I provide for my family, I’m not providing my money from my hard work – though work is required. If I’m honest with myself, it always has been and always will be God who does the providing.

       When I start judging myself based on my income, I’m taking God out of the equation. My value doesn’t come from what I own and it doesn’t come from what I earn. None of that matters in eternity. My true worth is in being a child of God – and that is infinitely valuable. I was bought for a price that can never be repaid. In God’s eyes, I’m extremely valuable. And He is of the greatest worth to me.

The Currency of Love

       The funny thing is that Michelle has never valued me based on my income (or lack of it). And God hasn’t either. It is in my ability and willingness to love that I find my true value as a Christian and as a husband. And my ability to love suffers as I obsess over my value as a source of income.

       That obsession (and resulting depression) puts me in the service of Mammon and makes me into a workaholic. I work when I should be spending time with God or my wife. I think about work when I should be thinking about other things. This is not healthy for my walk with Christ or my walk with Michelle.

       I’m trying to take my own advice and see my value in the currency of love and not money. It’s not easy. And I’m not so sure it’s something that would be solved if I just earn more money. The root of the problem is not really how much money I’m making (or not making). The root of the problem is me – my perceptions of who I am and what my responsibilities are to God and to my wife.

       I am not dismissing my responsibility to work and provide for my family. But I am dismissing Satan’s lie that I am only as valuable as the money I bring in the door. I will continue to work hard and look for ways to earn more money. But I will pray for God to open my eyes to see my true worth and to have wisdom enough to restrain myself in the pursuit of money. Please pray for me as I continue to pray for all of you.

Your Thoughts

       Have you ever struggled with feelings like this? How did you handle it? How did God show you the truth? Please help me out and share your thoughts in the comments below.

       If you spend much time reading personal finance advice for Christians (either on Provident Planning or somewhere else), you’ll probably start to realize that it’s not all that different from other personal finance advice. Most of the good advice for Christians applies equally to non-Christians as well. Stick to a budget, spend less than you earn, avoid excessive debt, keep an emergency fund, minimize your taxes, don’t buy insurance you don’t need, save for the future – none of those things are particularly Christian in nature.

       There may be some points in which Christian personal finance and secular personal finance will differ, but, generally speaking, good personal finance advice is the same regardless of your religion. The difference – and this is a major difference – is in the ultimate purpose, the final goal, of following that good advice.

       As far as the world is concerned, it makes sense to make smart personal finance decisions because that’s what is best for you. Good money management will help you meet your goals, maximize your wealth, and get the most out of the money you’ve earned. And according to the world, that’s what you should do with your money. Use it for the things you want. Use it to meet your goals and fulfill your dreams.

       But for Christians, making smart decisions in our finances is not important just so we can maximize our wealth and meet all our desires. Our purpose is not to find fulfillment in this world and the things it offers. Our purpose is to honor and glorify God – to serve Him with our entire being in everything we do. Our goal is to do His will. And part of God’s will for us is to share His love by caring for those in need through generous giving. We don’t try to maximize our wealth for our own use. We try to maximize our wealth for God’s use.

       I want you to remember this as you read the articles I write. Many times there won’t be a Bible verse in a post. Personal finance in the Bible is more about the principles that should govern our decisions – not specific applications (like how to get out of debt). But it’s very important that we remember the purpose of seeking and following good financial advice.

       When I talk about spending less, it’s so we’ll have more to give. When I talk about earning more money, it’s so we’ll have more to give. When I talk about making smart financial choices, it’s so we’ll have more to give. It all comes back to giving – giving motivated by love that flows out of our response to God’s Gift to us.

       Yes, making good financial decisions will have benefits for you personally. But our focus as Christians is on the benefits those decisions will have for the Kingdom. In our efforts to follow good financial advice, let’s keep our eyes focused on Christ and our minds focused on how we can serve Him fully.

       The advice we follow may not be all that different from non-Christians. But the motivation, goals, and results should be very, very different. And that difference will serve as a witness for the power of God’s love working in our lives.

       What do you think makes Christian personal finance different? Let me know in the comments!

Paul & Michelle

       My wife, Michelle, and I went through six premarital counseling sessions with the pastor who conducted our wedding ceremony and his wife. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about why premarital counseling is a good idea. There are many benefits, and I’m sure I won’t cover them all. But here are at least some of the benefits of premarital counseling.


Setting Expectations

       Will you have children? If so, how many? Will both of you work or just one? Where will you live? Who will be in charge of which chores? How much personal time will you give each other? Some of these questions may seem like they can wait until later, and many couples don’t discuss these things until after the wedding. It’s good to thoroughly discuss your expectations as early as possible before you’re actually married so you can prepare for what lies ahead. By talking about these things early on, you avoid the problem of misunderstandings and misconceptions later on.


Compatibility

       Sure you’re in love, and you feel like you’re on top of the world after your engagement. But it’s highly unlikely that you and your future spouse are completely compatible in every aspect of your personalities, habits, viewpoints, and goals. Premarital counseling helps you identify the areas where you may be incompatible. Once you bring these issues to light, you can discuss them deeper and determine if there are any deal breakers. While it may not be fun, calling the wedding off now is much easier and better than a divorce in a few years.


Communication

Wisdom of Trees by lepiaf.geo on Flickr       Good communication is essential to a successful marriage. (I’d say it’s right up there with love. ;) ) During premarital counseling, you’ll learn a little more about each other’s communication styles and discuss methods for effective communication. These techniques will greatly improve your chances of having good communication during marriage and your happiness as well.


Conflict Resolution

       Related to the communication issue is conflict resolution. When problems arise, and they will, how will you work together to solve them? How will you deal with each other when you have a heated argument? Premarital counseling will teach you ways to successfully resolve conflicts and help you set ground rules that you both agree to before any problems arise.


Intimacy

Bride & Groom Kiss by jonathanb1989 on Flickr       If you and your spouse have saved yourselves for marriage, you’ll want to understand each other’s intimacy expectations and comfort levels prior to your wedding night. It may be an awkward conversation to have with a premarital counselor, but again, setting expectations is key. Even if you have had sex before marriage, it’s important to discuss your expectations during marriage. Hopefully, you would have already discussed any past relationships, but if not this would be the time to bring them up. Skeletons in the closet can create disastrous problems in your marriage. Your pride is not worth the possibility of ruining an otherwise happy marriage.



Long-term Goals

       Another major area to discuss is your long-term goals. What are your career prospects and how will this affect your marriage? When do you want to retire? How do you envision your lifestyle together? What are your most important goals? By discussing these questions prior to marriage, you can avoid finding out that your goals are not aligned at all. Most couples will have discussed these things before setting a wedding date, but they’re still important enough to cover once more.


What Does Premarital Counseling Have to Do with Personal Finance?

       One major area of discussion is finances. You’ll talk about responsibilities and budgeting as well as any other financial issues that may be pertinent. Other topics may include your financial history, freedom to purchase items without your spouse’s approval, and your financial views. Preparing for your finances before marriage will help alleviate stress about money—often noted as one of the main causes of divorce. It will also help set you up for a successful financial future, since a budget and financial compatibility will form a strong foundation for finances in your marriage.

       Additionally, research has shown that premarital counseling reduces the chance of divorce by 30%. Divorce can wreak havoc on your emotions and your finances, so any steps you can take to avoid it are good financial moves indeed. While premarital counseling can’t guarantee you won’t end up getting a divorce, the training in communication and conflict resolution and the discussion of expectations, compatibility, intimacy, goals, and finances will definitely help you deal with some of the main causes of divorce. It also gives you a chance to commit to each other that divorce is not an option – strengthening your marriage and encouraging you to work all things out together rather than seeking separation.

The Bride and Groom by Clav on Flickr       I highly recommend all couples go through premarital counseling before the wedding. If you’re going to spend so much time planning for your wedding day, it makes sense to take a little time to plan for a successful marriage to last the rest of your lives!



Called Together

       I would highly recommend using the same book we did if you’re going through premarital counseling. Most counselors will have their own recommendations, but if yours doesn’t you should check out Called Together. You’ll need two copies (one for each of you), but they’re only $13.86 a piece (or cheaper if you buy used).