I have never been driven by money in life. I saw people and relationships as having more value. Where my wife saw my neglect of a student loan as a character flaw, I saw it as a time of having fun (not saying I was in the Godliest lifestyle back then). I would get around to paying on my student loan when I settled down, and I was not quite ready.
There are several types of people when it comes to finances. Some that work their whole life away for toys, and some that squirrel every penny away. Some think that they will relax after they retire and some that slack so much they’ll never have a dime in their account. I remember asking my wife once to go out for $1 beer and $.25 wings night. She added up the math and figured that it wouldn’t be in the budget for 3 months. When we finally went out the tab was $4.25. We waited 3 months to spend $4.25. That to me was bondage. What is the purpose of toiling if you cannot enjoy your fruits. I even found verses to back my lifestyle up. (Eccl. 8:15)
I have always had a giving heart. A family had a ratty old push mower that acted up, so I bought them a new one. I heard someone was losing sleep over paying bills, so I slipped $300 under their door. At this time in my life I was not making all that much money, but I saw the love of Christ and the way he worked in my life, so I wanted to pass it along. The early church shared greatly with each other, so that no one was in need (Acts 4). Every time I gave however, I received grief from my wife. “We could have put that towards bills”, she would say. I said, “we will always have bills. I am not waiting till we don’t to bless people”. It created such a struggle in me. I hated how my wife controlled the way I showed love. She would say, “maybe God is trying to teach them something through their financial struggle, because they were not responsible. And you are just interrupting their lesson.” I said, “If I get to heaven and get in trouble for giving too much, God can deal with me then.” I will state that I didn’t just give to everyone and anyone. When I felt prompted to, I gave. I was secure enough that someone could come up to me with an offering plate, and I would just smiled and pass it along if I did not feel compelled to give. It’s when that unction came that I was compelled to meet it.
Now, I could have demanded that I do whatever I wanted, because I was the man, and leader, and it was my money, and so forth and so on. But, that would have ended my marriage quickly, especially with my wife’s personality. The Lord is not forceful but persuasive through his love. So, I must walk in obedience with the Lord while proving to my wife that I am not reckless. It would have been a different story if I was at the casino or if I was a compulsive shopper. I prayed much on this matter, asking for Him to correct me if I was in error.
It all stems from being obedient to the Lord. Money is a tool, when you allow it to consume you and manipulate you in your relationships, it is hard to escape from its grip. Consider Jesus when approached by a worried disciple during tax time (Matt 17). He said so that they don’t get offended, go down to the river, cast in a line and pull out a fish. It will have a gold piece in its mouth. He didn’t care, do you? What do you record on your taxes?
Somewhere in my life, money began to have a major grip on me. I hoarded it, saved it, and was not very free with it. In fact, I would say it had more of a grip on me then I did on it. I was diligent to pay my bills and student loan on time each month and I prided myself on that. The man which I was considering marrying had not been paying on his student loan debt, however. One day I decided to calculate exactly how much money I had paid off and how much he had also. The numbers were not in his favor. In the same amount of time as I was able to pay off $2,000.00 of my debt, he had actually increased his original debt by that same amount. This did not seem to me like a man I wanted to become equally yoked with.
I was new in believing and following the Lord, and would in no way consider marrying this man, unless I could see some serious commitment on his behalf towards his debt. Before that could happen though, the Lord spoke clearly to me one night that I did in fact need to marry him. My immediate response to the Lord was, “what about his debt?” The Lord did not answer me, nor did He need to—for I heard him loud and clear.
So, the matter was settled and we married. I continued however to have a tight grip on our finances over the next few years. It was through this drive that we were able to save up just enough money to have a down payment on our first home. But it didn’t come without a price. I was so diligent and so determined I would forbid my husband to have a second slice of bread with his dinner. At this time we had no children and were both working pretty decent jobs. It seemed that the tighter I held onto money the more it slipped through my hands. We fought many fights in those first few years—all because of my lack of faith. At the time though I was sure it was his neglect and carelessness.
One month I remember praying, “Lord, increase my faith.” I asked this question with no particular part of my life in mind. Before that month was through God broke me of the bondage money had on me once and for all! My husband, who has a very generous heart, had tried many times in the past to give to others, only to be scolded by me. I would tell him how it wasn’t in our budget to give. Well, that month as we were praying together, the Lord put a sum of money on my heart and a particular couple that he wanted us to give it to. After we were through with praying, I shared this thought with my husband who was elated, since God had put the same amount of money on his heart to give to these people as well! To my shame, God had to go to such lengths in order to release my husband to give in the way he had been convicted to. Our husbands can often be easily persuaded by us, their wives, and we must ask ourselves, are we using that persuasion to the glory of God?
Later on that same month, my husband went to a banquet without me. I had warned him that we had already given freely that month and encouraged him to go light on his giving that night to the cause. When he came home and told me what he had given, my jawed dropped! Needless to say we made it through that month completely unscathed—lacking nothing, God is SO GOOD! It was then that my husband talked me into giving over all of our finances to him to handle. With white knuckles I agreed and here we are today, fully blessed and able to bless others still! I walk in much more peace now and am so thankful that God enabled me to surrender to both Him and my husband. I used to be so anxious about our finances and it would often keep me up at night with worry.
So in conclusion, my greatest advice to you in a new marriage would be to trust in the Lord. It may not be your finances that you need to surrender, it may be another area of your life, but God gave you your spouse to even you out. Embrace your differences and surrender control! Your husband has been given to you as your head—take comfort in that. You have permission to rest and relax, and when mistakes are made, know that it doesn’t have to mean it’s the end. You can walk through it together with grace.