Unfortunately, some people choose not to deal with an issue because they want to avoid conflict, so they simply don’t talk about it, and it becomes the elephant in the room that nobody wants to deal with until over time resentment and bitterness set in. That’s when couples begin to drift apart.
Vision has partnered with Brett and Kate Ryan from Focus on the Family, and Alex Cook, founder of Wealth with Purpose to bring you a special Marriage and Money seminar live-streamed at Vision’s Brisbane studios and hosted by Neil Johnson from 20Twenty.
It’s not just couples who can benefit from the valuable insights and expertise shared by Brett, Kate and Alex; everyone will find gold nuggets of wisdom in this seminar series they can apply to their lives to help them make sound financial decisions and build strong relationships.
The Relationship Honeymoon Period
‘Often we get into relationships and it starts off really well,’ said Brett. ‘We’re on our best behaviour where we’re trying to win one another over. Unfortunately, we can be quite superficial and not talk about those deep and meaningful topics such as our family of origin, understanding where your partner comes from, understanding yourself and what makes you tick, and understanding where your identity and security come from.’
Brett says that while God can provide security and your identity, a lot of people get it twisted and think that getting the right job, car, house or looking the right part and having the right friends is where we get our security and identity. They are looking for external approval rather than acknowledging that God loves them and has bought them with a price, and He wants only what’s best for us.
Many divorces have stemmed from financial issues. While some people avoid the elephant in the room, there are others where the tension gets so bad that they become controlling. Some have narcissistic tendencies, and they can use finances as a form of control or emotional, verbal, psychological, or relational abuse. There’s a point where it can become quite volatile, toxic, and unsafe.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to seek help. It may be that you tolerate this behaviour because you want to keep the relationship together. And while God is in the business of reconciliation and prefers to restore broken relationships, it’s important to do so in a safe environment. You need to make sure that you’re safe and that your children are safe.
If you or your children are not safe, separating for a time is an important step towards dealing with the issues that are causing the abuse. Think of this separation as a healing separation. It is better to take time out and time away from each other before you say or do something you can’t take back. During this time, it’s important that you work on yourself because it takes two healthy, capable and willing people to make a healthy relationship.
‘If there’s only one person doing the work it’s going to be really difficult, and very frustrating, and you’re going to find yourself hitting your head against a brick wall and that’s not good for anyone,’ said Brett.
The best option is to work together with God in the centre and with people to support and encourage you.
When Tension is Related to Money
What some people think is best for them is having a big bank account and all the bells and whistles. The Apostle Paul talked about learning to be content with a lot or very little, depending on his circumstances. Brett shares a time when he and Kate had very little money to the point where they had to pray for money to come in to pay the bills, and then God miraculously provided. They learned to trust God and lean on Him and each other to handle those tough times.
‘Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:11-13 NASB20)
Kate shared how when people are in crisis mode, they tend to either pull away from each other and deal with the circumstance the way they’ve always dealt with a crisis, or they turn on each other.
‘If you actually open up to each other and talk about how you both feel, then take it to God, it makes you so much closer in both your relationship and with God because you’ve built spiritual muscle in that tough time,’ said Kate.
Some great advice from Alex, when it comes to money, is to keep it really simple. When it comes to spending sit down together and talk about your spending. Discuss what you’re going to spend money on, what are your priorities, and where you feel God is wanting you to spend money. Prepare a spending plan and stick to it, or revise it together if that becomes necessary down the track.
If you are experiencing hardship, marriage or financial stress, there is hope and help. You can find helpful resources on the Focus on the Family and Wealth With Purpose websites by clicking the links. You are not alone. You can also contact the Vision Prayerline for confidential prayer from our caring Prayer Warriors.
This article was inspired by the Marriage and Money seminar. To view the full Marriage and Money seminar, click on the link below. The topic of Dealing With Toxic Relationships begins at the 23:30-minute mark.