Sunday, 22 April 2018

C Columns

Your Daily Bread: Helping couples become in in finances

By Terry Frisk

My wife and I are celebrating 40 years of pure wedded bliss this year. OK, maybe it hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns. But, we have always been faithful to the vows we made to each other when we were first married. One of those vows, “...for richer and for poorer...”, has really had an impact on our marriage. How we treat our finances is an expression of our faith in God and our love for each other.

One of the first decisions we made after getting married was how to handle our finances. Should we maintain separate bank accounts or combine them into a joint account? At the time, I was still in college and my wife was the breadwinner. Maybe I was considering my own self-­interests, but it made sense at the time to pool our finances into one account. Through the years, we learned the wisdom of combining our finances. Our finances were an open book and there were no secrets about how our money was spent. But, most importantly, it equalized our contribution to the financial pool. Throughout our time together, there were years where I earned more than my wife and years where she earned more than I did. Because we pooled our incomes into a joint account, we viewed our income as equally contributed by both.

Couples with separate bank accounts have the added stress of who pays for what. Quite often the spouse with higher income uses this financial leverage to wield power over the lower income spouse. This is not what marriage is about. In Matthew 9:5 Jesus said:

“For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Becoming one in flesh relates to all aspects of marriage including finances. For a married couple to maintain separate bank accounts makes as much sense as maintaining separate households and separate lives.

Virtually all surveys of what married couples disagree on most place finances as a top issue. While couples may agree on joining their lives, starting a family, supporting each other and worshipping God together, they still have individual interests they wish to pursue.

For example, one spouse may be into outdoor recreation (hunting, fishing, etc.) while the other may prefer different activities. Quite often, there is a significant difference in the cost to participate in these activities. How do you deal with this? Just like viewing income as contributed equally by each spouse, couples must recognize how they spend or save their money may not be equal, and they must come to an agreement about this. Throughout our marriage, my wife has always driven a nicer car than me. I have never given it a second thought that her car cost more than mine. She deserves it for the joy she has brought to our marriage.

Here are some tips to help you and your spouse achieve financial harmony in your marriage:

1. Remember that everything you have is a gift from God. God intends for you to be generous with your financial resources. Practice that generosity with each other.

2. Work together to develop a budget. Recognize that achieving each other’s goals may not necessarily mean individual spending is equal. This may require compromising.

3. Give each other latitude to spend the budgeted finances as each sees fit. But, consult one another on major purchases.

4. Hiding income and spending is a recipe for disaster. You must be transparent with each other to build the trust necessary for a successful marriage.

During our 40 years together, my wife and I have worked through many financial issues together. We probably disagree on issues as much as we agree. But, through prayer and open communication, we have worked through our financial struggles together. Those conversations are not easy, but well worth it in the end.

Thanks be to God.

Terry Frisk is a partner in the firm B2B CFO, providing financial advisory services to small businesses. He also counsels individuals on personal financial matters through the Cathedral of the Rockies Budget Counseling ministry. He may be contacted through e­mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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