The Issue of Money in Marriage
Keep the Lord in the center of the marriage and everything will turn out great
In the last 24 months, my wife and I have stood as wedding sponsors to over a dozen couples. Being a “Ninong/Ninang” we make sure that we get to impart some lessons to our “inaanaks” and financial matters are things we always discuss with them.
I thought about a lot of marriages breaking up and it seems that annulments have been increasing in the Philippines and has actually become more socially acceptable. So why do marriages end? How can a couple who are really in love end up hating each other? How did “till death do us part” become such a cliché?
I have heard many speakers, counselors and even preachers say that money is the No. 1 cause of separation by a ratio of one in four. While money is definitely a primary concern of many break-ups, there is very little factual data to support such a claim. However, many studies would put money as one of the leading causes, along with communication, infidelity, wrong expectations, intimacy and commitment; although not necessarily the No. 1 and by no means the reason for one in every four separations. Sorry to burst the bubble of some speakers, counselors and preachers. I would urge them to double check their facts.
Despite money not being the leading cause, it is definitely a concern for many couples and can lead to the breaking up of marriages. I am not an expert in marriages and I have no qualms about telling people that I can be clueless as to keeping a “perfect” marriage. Just ask my wife! However, after two decades of being together, my wife and I managed to survive the many challenges in our marriage and most of those challenges are financial in nature. By God’s grace, I think our union will survive in the next 20 or so years.
Here are some suggestion married couples can consider with regards to finances in their marriage:
- Communicate & be transparent. I find it disturbing that many couples are unaware of each other’s finances. Even the law acknowledges that a marriage brings union, including their finances and made provisions for conjugal properties. Bereft of any prenuptial agreement, a marriage solidifies the finances and everything as now co-owned. Statements of income should likewise be transparent; many problems erupt from false assumptions. A wife might be yearning for better family lifestyle thinking that the husband’s income can sustain it, only to be dismayed that it can’t. By being transparent and communicating properly, expectations can be managed.
- Plan, plan, plan. Preparing a budget and sticking to one is definitely a conjugal exercise. I highly recommend that a couple sit down and discuss their budgets, how to disperse income and what to prioritize with their limited resources. A couple must agree on the budget and once a budget is set, they must respect each other by be faithful to the budget. Of course, some flexibility should be exercised as well.
- Practice family financial planning. Set up an emergency fund. Think long term. Save and invest for the future. Buy life insurance (this really brings peace of mind). Prepare for retirement. Avoid getting in debt and if you need to take a loan like home loan, talk about it and get counsel first.
- Practice stewardship. Many issues arise if couples don’t practice stewardship. They need to be responsible and accountable to each other and most especially, to the Lord.
- Learn from other couples. This is not just about money management, but about marriage in general. Have mentors for your marriage and please choose those with a good track record for obvious reasons. You don’t need to learn by experience because it is way too risky to experiment with your marriage.
And here’s my most cherished tip for married couples, keep the Lord in the center of the marriage and everything will turn out great. “If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.” – Job 26:11, NIV INQ
Randell Tiongson is a Registered Financial Planner of RFP Philippines. He is one of the most sought after speakers in Personal Finance and Columnist of Philippine Daily Inquirer and Money Sense Magazine. He is best selling book author of Personal Finance Step-by-Step Guide.
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