Marriage and finances is a topic that can easily cause division between couples. Despite joining together in marital bliss, many couples then find themselves facing financial strain. Unfortunately, it’s a reality in Australia that financial issues are often cited as the top reason for divorce.
To give us some advice on how to deal with financial disagreements in marriage, Alex Cook joined us for this 20Twenty discussion. Alex is the founder of Wealth for Purpose and is passionate about giving sound financial advice based on Biblical principles.
Biblical Model for Marriage
Alex believes that the Biblical model for marriage is when two become one. When people get married, they then often make the assumption that everything is going to go smoothly. But money can be a source of huge tension. Couples come into marriage with different expectations and different upbringings. There are all sorts of aspects that are brought into a marriage, because of a sudden we go from doing everything ourselves, to doing everything as a couple.
‘I think from God’s perspective, His intention for marriage is that it should bring balance to our decisions,’ says Alex. ‘We are all wired differently and therefore we’ll often look at things from a different perspective. And when you bring those two perspectives together, you often get far better outcomes. God’s desire for us as couples is to bring us closer together. But it’s a challenge in our culture because we’re all very independent.’
‘Not his money or her money, or even our money. How are we going to handle God’s money?’
The Biblical idea is that we become interdependent on each other and God. We should always be dependent on Him for our provision. In relationship with God, we should also look at our resources and decide how they should be shared. They’re not his or hers. As a new entity, we come together and work towards shared goals and shared vision. Some of those are practical things like saving for the future or a house. But they should also include spiritual goals.
‘How are we going to use the money that God puts in our hands to create a plan for our giving?’ says Alex. ‘All these sorts of things need to be worked through as a couple. And then you get into more challenging areas like what school are we going to send our kids to? All these things have a financial impact. The other issue is around responsibility and who’s going to do what. The model is that you should have a shared responsibility. You’re both responsible, even though you may have different roles.’
Over the years, Alex has witnessed the most common financial stresses that cause marital problems. Excessive debt is something that brings enormous pressure, and combined with a sudden job loss can be a very real issue. To avoid conflict, couples need to work together through these issues in the context of a loving relationship and in the context of serving one another.
The Christian model comes back to two becoming one. That’s the starting point. We’re no longer separate entities. We’re now one, and we have a responsibility to work together towards a common vision. Christians acknowledge that their life is not their own, we are God’s children. Our purpose here is to serve God, to glorify God. The Christian dimension to money is very different to the world’s view. The goal as a couple is to love and serve God together and as a family.
Alex says that churches also have a role to play. ‘Most of our congregations are married or go through troubled times,’ he says. ‘So we need to help people repair and grow and improve their marriages in that church context. I encourage pastors to facilitate training around money, because this is a very important area that should not be overlooked. The thing about money is if you can get people right with it, you can often get them right with other parts of their life.’
‘You want your members to be financially healthy, because then you can lead them to a point where they start using their money for higher purposes.’
Listen to Alex’s full interview on 20Twenty below:
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