Many of us know that financial conflict is one of the most common causes of marriage breakdowns. Cost of living increases and rising interest rates are placing even more strain on relationships, with families struggling to keep up.
Alex Cook from Wealth With Purpose says that managing money can be easy, despite what a lot of people think. Most of us struggle with money at some point in our lives. Whilst many people may desire financial freedom, few will ever find it.
Alex recently joined us on 20Twenty to talk about how a few simple changes, based on Biblical wisdom, can help us all get out of debt and be financially free. It’s also important from a Christian perspective to understand how cost of living increases affect our ability to give.
Rising interest rates are already starting to filter through to household budgets. But the big unknown is how much further up will they go. While Australia’s unemployment is currently at a record low, there’s no question that cost of living pressures are starting to bite.
‘One of the great concepts in scripture,’ says Alex, ‘is when a husband and wife get married and become one. If we take that concept and apply it to money, what does it mean for Christian couples? The Bible talks about the fact that we are ultimately dependent on God. He’s our source of provision, and that’s really important to remember.’
Couples need to be able to depend on each other, and that means understanding that all their resources are shared. Alex encourages people have joint bank accounts to promote the idea of having shared goals and vision. It’s important to acknowledge together that the money you have is God’s.
Sharing the Responsibility
‘We’ve got to steward our money for His glory,’ says Alex. ‘It’s a shared responsibility for couples, and we need to be purposeful. We may have different tasks, but we have the same goals in mind. We need to put God at the centre of our lives and our financial decisions.’
Having a biblical mindset about money helps us to continue to glorify God. He put man and woman together for a good reason, and part of that is to balance to our decisions. The reality is we are different. Men are generally a bigger risk takers, while women tend to be more risk averse.
‘We want to acknowledge that we’re stewards,’ says Alex. ‘We are managers on God’s behalf. Therefore we have to talk about how we’re going to use what God has blessed us with. He makes it clear and in His Word that we have an obligation to meet the needs of those around us. We’ve got to look after our families, no question. Then from there, we’ve got to build on that.’
Alex believes we need to look around us to see who needs help in our community and around the world. How do we advance God’s kingdom? Money should have an eternal aspect to it, and we need to ask ourselves what ministries God wants us to sow into.
‘That involves having an understanding about what God’s word says about money,’ says Alex. ‘But it’s also asking God for wisdom. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us, and we should bring God into our decision making so we’re not acting out of emotion. When we’re having these discussions, we need to pray.’
Communication and Compromise
Australia is a very multicultural society, and couples may bring aspects of their culture that affect the way they think about money. There may also be differences in spiritual maturity. A Christian might say, I want to give 10% of my income. But if you’re married to someone who’s an unbeliever, they may not support that.
‘If you’re not on the same page, you just need to talk through these issues,’ says Alex. ‘There is an aspect of compromise that is very challenging in the nature of those relationships. But it can also be a fabulous witness to your spouse. A believer should show kindheartedness when they are serving God. It’s an opportunity as much as it is a challenge.’
‘If you are married or soon to be married,’ says Alex, ‘sit down as a couple and talk through your goals. What direction is God taking you in? How is He using you? How are we going to satisfy those goals and work on this for God’s glory?’
‘That to me is the key.’
This article is inspired by Alex Cook with Neil Johnson.