I’m currently preparing my talk for ‘Finance for Newlyweds’ for the Shangri-La BridalFair. My preparation made me remember a lot of financial mistakes we did in our 20+ years of marriage and it is only the grace of God that we survived those trials.
I thought about a lot of marriage breaking up and it seems that annulments have been increasing in the Philippines and has actually been more socially accepted. So why do marriages end? How can a couple who are really in love with each other 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 number one cause of separation by a factor of 4:1. 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 cause along with communication, infidelity, wrong expectation, intimacy and commitment; although not necessarily the number one and by no means a factor of 4:1. 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 marriages 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:
1) Communicate & be transparent – I find it disturbing that many couples are unaware of each others finances. Even the law acknowledges that a marriage brings union, including their finances and made provisions for conjugal properties. Bereft of any pre-nuptial agreement, a marriage solidifies the finances and everything as now co-owned. Statement of income should likewise be transparent; many problems erupt from false assumption. A wife might be yearning for better family lifestyle thinking that the husband’s income can sustain, only to be dismayed that it can’t. By being transparent and communicating properly, expectations can be managed.
2) 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.
3) Practice family financial planning. Set up an emergency fund. Think long term — save & 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.
4) 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.
5) Learn from other couples. This is not just about money management, but about marriage in general. Have mentors for your marriage and please chose 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