John Fuller: Well, he watched every penny, and he was kind of overbearing on the finances, and she didn’t balance a checkbook because she thought it would all work out in the end. And that could describe a couple you know or perhaps it describes you. And this is “Focus on the Family” with your host Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, you said it well there. I’m one of those. I’m not gonna disclose which one. (Chuckling)
John: I’ve crashed a checkbook or two, so–
Jim: Have you? You just moved to a different bank?
John: –I did actually do that. (Laughter)
Jim: I think I did that one time—
John: It was easy.
Jim: –in my 20’s—
Jim: –but I couldn’t figure out where the numbers were comin’ from.
But today, we are gonna be discussing some very important principles about money and marriage. And I’m tellin’ you what, folks, this is one of the top two issues in marriages. And today, we want to give you some helpful advice on how to lay the right groundwork, so that your marriage doesn’t suffer because of the finances.
So, lean in today. We’re gonna talk about probably two personality types that live in your home, as well—the spender and the saver—and how you can get along better and learn to love each other deeper.
John: And our guests have been married for almost 40 years. They have some really insightful stories. And Russ Crosson is the president and CEO of Ronald Blue and Company. He was hired by Ron personally in 1980 as the second employee of that financial firm. And Ron has been on this program a number of times. Russ and his wife, Julie conduct seminars and they provide mentoring to other couples about money and marriage and communication. And even though we’re talking specifically about finances in the context of marriage, there are some principles here that’ll translate to your situation, even if you’re single.
Jim: Russ and Julie, let me welcome you to “Focus on the Family.”
Russ Crosson: Jim, it’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for havin’ us.
Julie Crosson: Thank you. It’s good to be here.
Jim: Now your backgrounds, people are I hope, intrigued by this and Julie, you were kind enough to confess, you couldn’t balance that checkbook and (Chuckling) Russ, you talked about askin’ Julie. Every night you come home and say, “How much did you spend?” That typically isn’t a good formula for marriage.
Russ: No, it wasn’t a good way to start out, Jim. That’s why we learned some of the things that we wrote in the book. When I started datin’ Julie, this beautiful lady, we got into the financial things. We moved along and asked her about her checkbook. And she said, “Well, you know,” and I looked it and there was no subtraction. It was just a bunch of numbers. And I said, “Well, don’t you ever like subtract?” She goes, “No, I just know there’s enough in there.” And I’m goin’, “Oh, my, we gotta work on this.” (Laughter)
Jim: How did you–
Julie: Well, and it—
Julie: –wasn’t that I couldn’t balance a checkbook. I didn’t like to. To me, it was restrictive. It was kind of a rebellious thing. Don’t tell me what to do, if there’s nothin’ there, I’m not gonna balance this thing.
Jim: It is kinda restrictive, isn’t it–
Julie: Yes, it is, very restrictive. (Laughter)
Jim: –I think, on purpose.
Julie: So, I really just didn’t want to. And so when he would start asking me, you know, well, what’s your balance? Well, why does it matter? I have enough in there. I don’t overspend, so what’s the point here?
Jim: Okay, so someone’s asking that question, Russ. What is the problem—
Russ: Well, the—
Jim: –with that way?
Russ: — point was, and this is what I learned and this is one of the things we see with couples, I just stepped back and kinda look at a bigger picture. You know, budgeting in and of itself isn’t the end game here. You only do the budget for a bigger reason. How do all of our finances pull together so we can accomplish bigger goals? So, once I kinda went through the five uses of money and helped Julie kinda see, okay, if we budget and we do this, then we can maybe you know, have a house down payment or be able to do this, you know, later on in our life, it gave her a context.
And then of course, we had to work through how were we actually gonna make a budget work. But at least she understood that it was important. You know, the Bible says, “Know well the condition of your flocks and pay attention to your herds.” So, you know, you can’t really get away from that stewardship responsibility of kinda knowin’ what’s goin’ on. But we had to work through how that was gonna look for us.
Jim: Okay, we picked on Julie a bit, but you know, comin’ home every night and you saying, “How much did you spend today?” that could be a little irritating.
Russ: It was.
Julie: Yes, yes, it was. (Laughter) It was that. It was—
Russ: Well, you know …
Julie: — the kinda thing where I felt like he didn’t trust me.
Julie: So, he kept askin’ me and I was workin’ as a young wife very hard that he would feel he could trust me with money and yet, he kept asking me. So, then he came up with that verse, “Know well the condition of your flocks and herds.” I didn’t know there was a Bible verse about budgeting. But once, you know, back in the Old Testament, they didn’t have balance sheets and investment companies. So, knowing what your flocks and herds were doing was taking care of your financial assets–
Julie: –and your financial responsibilities. And so, once I realized this is biblical, I asked him if we could call it “Planned Spending” instead.
Russ: Yeah she—
Julie: Yeah, forget the budget.
Russ:–she never liked the B word, so we called it “Planned Spending.” So you call it whatever you want; you have to figure out, you know, what’s comin’ in and what’s goin’ out and the reason I was askin’ her was, I wanted to know where we were, because we were really tight. I mean, we didn’t have a lot of extra money just startin’ out like a lot of young of couples.
Jim: Well, describe that though for people so they better understand what you’re saying. Your salary was like $9,000 a year.
Russ: Well, yeah, I thought she should be happy with that. I was making seven fifty a month and I was a school teacher and a coach. And then as we advanced a little bit and then when I went to work for Ron, he said, “Well, I’ll pay you what you’re makin’ teachin’ and I thought, “Well, Ron, that’s only nine months. I paint houses in the summer to supplement my income.” So, we in essence took a pay cut to move to Atlanta to go to work with this start-up company. And so, it was tight.
Jim: You took a pay cut from $9,000 a year. (Laughter)
Jim: I’m kiddin’. (Laughing)
Russ: –I was able to work three extra months. You know—
Russ: –I got paid over a year for what I used to get paid nine months for. But the point was, the reason I was askin’ her was, I wanted to make sure we knew where we were. But that wasn’t like you said, Jim, a good way to start out. So, what it forced us to do was, figure out, all right, how are we gonna deal with this money thing in a way that it doesn’t cause friction? You know, and that’s the ultimate goal here is, how do you make money a non-issue in your marriage?
Jim: Julie, I want to throw you a bit of a curve ball before we get into more of the details about managing money, which is obviously your expertise. You’ve written books on it now. You’re running Ron Blue and Company. You know, that’s your niche. But why did you guys ever come together if you’re like this numbers guy and you’re like an anti-numbers lady?
Jim: I mean, how did you actually date and how did this come out?
Julie: Well, it was a blind date.
Russ: Yeah, we met. I was a school teacher. She was not a student. I make sure everybody’s clear on that, but somebody set us up, and started dating and you know, so we grew to appreciate each other, until I asked her to marry me, and then she told me no. (Laughter)
Jim: So, you had a little insight there, huh?
Julie: So, yes I did, and the back story is, that when we met, I was a nurse anesthetist just getting’ ready to graduate and go work for my dad, who was an anesthesiologist. And so, during anesthesia training, I had swallowed the feminist mind-set in such [a way] that I agreed with them. Men were basically stupid.
They didn’t make very much money and I’m not gonna trust a man and I’m not gonna say, “Yes, sir” or “What do you want to do with the money, dear.” I wasn’t about to do that.
And so, when Russ came along, it’s like, uh-hm. He wanted children. He very much believed in marriage and that he would be the head and to all that I just [said] no; that’s just not gonna work. So, we had a lot in common. He’s very smart, very intellectual; he loved the Lord. My dad was actually mentoring him, and he was growing by leaps and bounds. I mean, we would talk about the Scripture. He was learning the verses he was memorizing, but because I’d done Scripture memory all my life, I’d memorized 18 verses a week when I was growin’ up.
Julie: So, I knew all the verses he was talkin’ about. So then, when he um … when he asked me to marry him, I said no, because I’m not gonna be poor. You’re a teacher, and I’m not gonna choose that. Why would I choose that?
Jim: ‘Cause you love him.
Julie: Well, yes. (Laughter)
Jim: (Laughing) I mean, that’s one reason.
Julie: But I decided I’m not gonna be miserable the rest of my life, because I’d bought into the feminist thing that I can’t be happy, if I don’t have a lot of money.
Jim: Why was that so overbearing in your walk, ’cause you’re speakin’ to a lot of women’s hearts—
Jim: –right now who have either bought that line or still living there or they’ve come out of that fog and decided, okay, God’s way is a better way.
Julie: It is.
Jim: Why, being raised in a home where you understood—
Jim: –Bible memorization,’ you knew the verses; you still had that in your heart; you still had that anti—
Jim: –man thing?
Julie: Well, and I was raised in a strong Christian home. My folks were very involved in ministry part time and I saw what it was supposed to look like. My parents loved each other. My mother submitted to my dad, but she loved doin’ that. And I saw what it did for him. He was a difficult doctor to work with when I worked with him in the hospital. But at home, my mother, because she was so good about fitting into his world, softened him to where he was effective in ministry. So, I saw the right role models.
Julie: But once I got to anesthesia training and realized, to tell you the truth, what happened was, when I would be on call, these married men, residents and doctors who were there, would ask to come to my call room. And I decided that if you can’t trust a man to be faithful to his wife, somebody was gonna end up in the hospital, and it wasn’t gonna be me.
Julie: So, I decided the way to avoid having a terrible outcome was, I’m not gonna get married. And so, I also at that point, was very strongly feeling that children would interrupt my career and would be a way that a husband could kinda keep control over me, basically. And I really thought about being sterilized to where I could not have children and couldn’t be talked out of it.
Jim: Wow, Julie, I mean, this is amazing. You were a tough cookie. You’re like the (Laughter) female version of John Wayne.
Julie:, my goodness.
Jim: Yeah. (Laughter)
Russ: So, when I asked her to marry me and she says no, I mean, you can see why, right?
Jim: Yeah, but I can also see, she knows what she’s doin’. I mean, she’s a woman of conviction. Uh … how did you reconcile the “no.” When did you eventually say “yes?” (Laughter) Let’s get to the happy place.
Julie: Okay, well, God intervened, and let me tell you somethin’, God is in the business of changing hearts, because I was so determined that I’m gonna fly. Already my dad had a plane, so I was already flying our own plane. I was gonna have my own plane. I was gonna fly around.
Jim: Like in your 20’s at this point?
Julie: Well, I started flyin’ at 16. So anyway, it’s one of those things. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to surf around the world. I don’t want to be tied down. I want to make plenty of money. I want to go snow skiing. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and nobody’s gonna step in there and say, “No, you’re not,” or “We don’t have time,” or “We don’t have money.”
So, I had really pretty well prepared what I wanted to do with my life. But then when Russ stepped in, and my dad was involved, ’cause I kept tellin’ my dad, “I think I’m gonna dump him. I think I’m gonna look ‘elsewheres,’” he would get mad at me and dad never liked anybody I brought along. He’s pretty strong and he would say—
Jim: He’s a strong screener.
Julie: –oh, yeah (Laughter) real strong, well, to the point where most guys were afraid of him.
Julie: Russ was not afraid of him.
Julie: And so, dad said, “I don’t like your reasons.” He said, “I think this guy has the ability to love you, not just when you’re 20 and beautiful, but when you’re 65.” He said, “That’s what you should be lookin’ for.”
Julie: And he said, “I think he’s got that.”
Jim: What a great conversation between a father and his daughter.
Julie: Well, and dad did that. We talked about everything and I really could run stuff by him, and I’m the same personality as him, so we would butt heads, but we had really deep conversations.
Jim: Okay, so what we’ve learned so far is you guys are really opposites in so many ways. You have common interests—
Jim: –but you’re really opposites. And how did you get to the yes? I’m keepin’ pressin’. I’m gonna keep pressin’. (Laughter) I’m gonna keep pressin’ on this thing until—
Russ: Well, it was a Sunday—
Jim: –I get it.
Russ: –night when I asked her to marry me and she said no and I said, “Well, that offer still stands if you change your mind.” And so, she can probably tell you the rest better, because God worked those next four nights, and I got the yes on Thursday night.
Jim: So, it’s four nights later.
Russ: Just to give—
Russ: –you the punch line, I got the yes on Thursday.
Julie: He did.
Jim: And how’d that yes come about?
Julie: Well, what happened then was, I figured it was over, ’cause I figured you know what? I told him no. I’m done. I figured I would probably be 38, 40, and marry some widower that needed somebody to help with the kids. So, I’m gonna have my life and then maybe I’ll try marriage down the road. That was my idea.
Jim: Boy and so many young people today, that’s what they’re thinkin’.
Jim: Maybe not the exact formula, but—
Jim: –I’ll get married in my 30s.
Jim: Then they get to 40 and they’re goin’, okay, well, sometime in my 40’s.
Julie: Right. Well, and that’s what I was thinkin’. Well, I’m gonna live my life and then I’ll do the marriage thing.
Jim: What’s wrong with that?
Julie: It’s a selfish, selfish, self-centered way of life and it’s not open to God’s leading. That was the—
Julie: –other thing.
Jim: So, how in four days did you go from that selfish—
Julie: Well, that’s–
Jim: –to unselfish?
Julie: –that’s where I did have a working relationship with the Lord. I did love Him. I did—
Jim: I like that, “a working relationship.
Julie: –I did want to please Him, but I wanted to set Him aside. In fact, that’s kinda what I decided in anesthesia training. They would make fun of me for my Christian beliefs.
So, what I told the Lord was, I’m gonna table my Christian beliefs, till I can graduate and then I’ll let You take back over, because I got tired bein’ made fun of. They would watch the TV preachers and then bring me up there and just laugh and—
Julie: — yeah. I was really made fun of for my pure lifestyle, all of that. They called me “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,” just had a great time with me. So, I decided, I’m tired of being made fun of. I just need to get through school.
But that’s when I started swallowin’ the feminism, so when Russ asked me to marry him, the next few nights, uh … it was like, I thought I was done. And then God woke me up. I think it was like Tuesday night, and I’m a deep sleeper. [I] woke up at 2 in the morning, could not go back to sleep.
So, I talked to the Lord. I said, “Well, you know, what are You doin’? What is it? Is there somethin’ we need to talk about?” And it was like, “We need to talk about Russ and this is who I have for you.” And so, I told the Lord, “Nothing in the Bible says I have to marry him. This is a choice. (Laughter)
Jim: I like this. (Laughing)
Julie: And so, it was like, “Lord, if he was a doctor, I might be interested, but he’s not a doctor. He’s a teacher. You could’ve made him be a doctor, so since he’s not, I’m not interested.” And so, I was able to go back to sleep that night. The next night [He] wakes me up at 2 again and I said, “Well, what are You doing? I’ve already told you, I do love this guy, but I’m not gonna marry him, not gonna be poor. And as we kept talkin’ back and forth,I said, “Lord, I’m so confused, because he does love me. He has the character I’ve been lookin’ for, but he’s … he’s a teacher.”
And the verse, “God is not the author of confusion” came right to my mind. So, I said, “If You’re not the author of confusion, where is the confusion coming from?” And “sin” was the answer. And I said, “Lord, well, what’s the sin?” Well, the sin was, I didn’t trust God to take care of me.
Julie: I didn’t trust God to actually bring along a marriage partner that I could trust. I didn’t believe that God was able to take care of my financial needs, especially. And so, that’s what He said. “I own the cattle on 1,000 hills. I can take care of you. You have unbelief, and so, you’ve got to trust Me for him.”
And I said, “Lord, I don’t trust him.” He goes, “No, no, no, you trust Me with him. I’m the one that’s gonna lead you and guide you and give you want you need.” And I told Him about the men that I don’t trust, and the Lord said, “I’m the one doin’ this.”
Julie: “I’m the one in this, and you can trust me.” So, I brought up submission. I said, “Lord, why did you do submission? That’s just … I can’t get back that. I mean, I’m as smart as he is.” And the Lord was like, “I’m the Creator of the Universe. If I decided that he’s to have the head and you’re to submit to him, you can trust Me with that. There’s a reason for this and you can trust Me. And that My love for you is [sure]. I’m not wanting you to be miserable. I’m doin’ this because this is the best way for marriage to work and to bring children.”
And so, we talked about children. I was like, the Lord said, “Children are a reward. You’re slappin’ Me in the face with not wantin’ children. Children are a fruit of a loving relationship of two married people and it’s a reward. That’s what My Word says, So, you need to accept that.”
Jim: That’s quite a conversation–
Jim: –and a lot of great standards to live by.
John: It really is a fantastic heart change and we’ll hear more in a minute. I do want to tell you though, we’ve got the book by Russ. It’s called 8 Important Money Decisions for Every Couple and we also have a CD or a download of this conversation so you can listen again. All of this and more for help in your finances in your marriage or as Julie has been talking, spiritual help. We have a lot of materials to help you in your faith journey at www.focusonthefamily.com/radioor just call us. It’s 800-A-FAMILY.
Jim: Russ, you’ve been hearin’ Julie talk about this, very quietly. I’m impressed by that, by the way. What were you thinkin’ during this time? And she obviously explained what the Lord had been sharin’ with her at some point. What were you thinkin’?
Russ: Well, what happened, Jim, was you said we seem so opposite, but we really did have a love for each other and a common desire to be pleasing to God. And so, when I left on that Sunday and told her I loved her and that offer still stood, you know, I just was trusting God. She was having to wrestle with God; I was havin’ to trust God and realize that He could bring along the right person for me.
So, when she called me on Thursday and said, “Hey, let’s play tennis” and I went over to her house to play tennis, and then, part way through the match, she jumped over the net and said, “Hey, the answer is yes,” that was a great day.
Russ: But one of the things she didn’t finish sharin’ was that she figured she better settle this, or she’s gonna kill somebody in the operating room, being an anesthetist, so–
Jim: ‘Cause you were distracted?
Russ: –she wasn’t gettin’ any sleep.
Julie: Well, I wasn’t getting’ any sleep. I said, “Lord (Laughter), I’ve got to get my sleep. We’ve gotta get this settled.”
Jim: So, this isn’t a confession; nothing bad happened.
Julie: Nothing bad happened.
Jim: Okay (Chuckling), good.
Jim: I’m glad you kept your wits.
Julie: Yeah (Laughing).
Russ: No, so it was just a great day.
Jim: Well, that is good. So, you said yes and then it didn’t necessarily all work out like a fairytale did it?
Jim: You got married and you probably those tendencies to worry, to be troubled.
Julie: Well, but what happened after I said yes to him, and really what I was doin’ was driving a stake with the Lord. What I did was, I told the Lord, “I’m willing to submit to him the rest of my life, and I’m willing to live on a teacher’s income the rest of my life.”
Jim: And you meant it.
Julie: And I meant it.
Russ: Well, when she told she’d live in a tent in Alaska with me, then I knew, because she doesn’t like to be cold, and I knew she didn’t like to camp, okay.
Jim: Oh, man. (Laughing)
Russ: So, when she told me that, I knew I was off the hook. And you know what? That’s a great thing, because then I knew no matter what I made, it was gonna be okay. And if I could say stuff to couples, you know, that’s a tremendous gift to give to the husband, especially, is hey, whatever you make [is okay]. And I’ve been doin’ this for 35 years, and I’ve never seen anybody not have enough to meet their needs, and maybe not their wants and desires. But you know, that just took off the pressure. Now we were free to struggle together, to figure out how we were gonna do the budget and all that. But her sayin’ I’d live in a tent in Alaska was a key statement.
Jim: You know, Julie, I don’t want to move away from this too quickly, because there’s millions of people listening, and there’s gonna be many women that are still where you were.
Jim: And in this culture today, you know, more women are succeeding than many men. There [are] more women grad students than men today.
Jim: It’s still a big drive. And some people even hearin’ that word “submission”—
Jim: –I mean, it’s a toxic word. But how do you and Russ mean it from a biblical standpoint? God is not demeaning of women.
Julie: Oh, no.
Jim: Women are made in the image of God, just like men are.
Jim: Why do you think, and maybe this is for both of you, why do you think He structured it that way, for what purpose?
Russ: Well, you know, in any organization, and a marriage is really just a small organization of two people, there has to be hierarchy. There has to be, you know, some kind of ground rules for decision- making and things like that.
And so, God made it very clear. And like I like to tell people, God gave man the position of headship, 1 Corinthians 11:3. “God’s the head of man; man’s the head of woman.” But here’s what I say to most women. They get, you know, kinda caught up on this leadership versus submission, is [that] the position of influence is every bit as powerful as the position of leadership.
‘Cause see, here’s all Julie has to say to me. “Hey, Russ, here’s my input, and now I’m trusting God with you to make the right decision.” Well, you know, that’s kind of a low blow, ’cause then I’m ready to probably have to listen, right? I say, “Okay, I wasn’t listening until now, but what’d you say, because where you say …
Jim: Well, you say “low blow,” but it’s really the right perspective.
Russ: it’s the right perspective. She’s smart. She’s talented. She’s very wise and so, it behooves me if I have to make a decision, to really get her input. And so, I think God in His infinite wisdom said, “Okay, there’s gotta be some ultimate order here, but it’s not one of superiority or inferiority. It’s just simply created equal, but uniquely designed. And so, I think when I share this with a lot of couples and let the women understand that this position of influence is every bit as powerful as the position of leadership. Fact is, we guys just, you know, we’re kind of insecure sometimes on the fact that we’re held accountable to make some decisions before the Lord. And so, I’m really glad that I’ve got somebody like Julie that I can say, “Hey, I really do want your input.”
Jim: Well, and that’s the right response from a godly husband. And you know, unfortunately, I want to speak to that for a second, because there are women again that are hearing this, saying, “You don’t know my man. He doesn’t deserve that respect. He makes horrible decisions. He never asks for my input. It’s always a strain, whether it’s money, which we’re eventually gonna talk about, the 8 Important Money Decisions, but this is the crux of the issue.
Jim: I mean, this is about marriage and making your marriage work better. And what would you say to that woman, Julie, who hears ya and says, “I wish I could give that kind of trust to my husband. He doesn’t deserve it.”
Julie: Well, let me tell you, after I told Russ yes and went back to the operating room to work, I got all kinds of opinions of what I should do with my money, how I should live my life. I should keep my own identity, keep your own money. And there was no end to the opinions that were voiced.
And it dawned on me, I’m not living by people’s opinions. And so, that’s when I told the Lord, “You know what? I have to live by Your Word and what Your Word says, because if I live by people’s opinions, I’m gonna be all over the place.”
So, I made a huge decision that, “Lord, if You’ll show me in Your Word, I’ll do it.” So, I started in Genesis, and I started workin’ through what God had to say to me as a married woman. And Genesis 2:18, which is about being a helper mate, which you can’t find in the dictionary, but the root word’s “help,” which means to help someone reach their goals, to do whatever’s necessary to help them reach their goals. But in particular, Proverbs 31 became a place I landed, because it talks a lot about things that I really didn’t quite understand. It says, “A capable, intelligent, virtuous woman, who can find?” So, I thought, well, that’s what I am and that’s what I’m gonna do in my career. If you’re a capable and intelligent, you have a very strong career and you stay there.
But, when you read the rest of the chapter, it’s talking about how the woman handles her home, her husband and her children. And it dawned on me; He wants me to use what He’s given me, which is capable and intelligent, virtuous, in my home.
And so, when you read the next verse, it says, “The heart of her husband trusts her. He has no lack of honest gain, no need of dishonest spoil.” That’s a finance verse. I don’t waste his money. First of all, he trusts me, and so, that’s in and itself, takes a while.
But I don’t waste his money, and I don’t make him feel like he doesn’t make enough. That’s a need for dishonest spoil. He doesn’t make enough, and I say, “I wish,” so, that pushes him to either do somethin’ he’s not good at, or always feel like he’s a failure.
Julie: When I got to this submission part, especially in 1 Peter 3, I started thinkin’ about that, because one of the verses says that she’s to adapt herself to him, t