God had a true union in mind when He created marriage. Jesus said so himself in Mark 10:6-9: “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Unity isn’t just a romantic notion. It’s an important reality, having an impact on every area of life, including finances. Money can’t be his money or her money. It has to be our money … and all things are shared, including debt.
Prospering as a team begins with putting all skills, assets and liabilities together to make a plan for two people to become more together than they were as individuals.
I recommend that couples avoid having separate financial anything, including checking accounts, because when they develop a his-money-versus-her-money philosophy, it usually leads to fights and division. It’s dangerous to a relationship when couples are not working together in choosing how to spend or invest assets.
Consider this: If you don’t trust your spouse with money, do you really trust him or her at all? Unwillingness to join all assets and bank accounts after marriage is perhaps a danger signal that unresolved trust issues could still be lingering — or developing — in the relationship. Consider these guidelines to help you and your spouse merge your financial lives:
Understanding: At Crown Financial Ministries we say that marriage is like the partnership of the left and right hands of the same person — they are perfectly matched but totally opposite. One hand working alone will not accomplish half as much as two. Many tasks are impossible without two hands working together. So before you begin making financial decisions, it’s best to understand how your “other hand” works. Take the time to learn how your spouse sees money, risk and long-term planning. Once understood, differences are often seen as complimentary strengths.
Budgeting: Without a plan, great things are rarely accomplished. Equipped with insight into how your spouse thinks and feels about money, make a budget that suits your mutual goals. Many wonderful and free tools can help you get started. But remember this simple rule: Always spend less than you make!
Bookkeeping: Practically speaking, only one person should maintain the books. Keep in mind that even though either the husband or the wife primarily handles balancing the checkbook, both should be fully trained and able to do so.
Making Financial Decisions Together
In talking with families around the world — and in my own home — I’ve learned that the best way to reach a peaceful agreement when discussing money is to decide ahead of time how decisions are going to be made … before things get heated.
My wife, Ann, and I make a point of hearing each other out without making rude comments or interrupting. When it comes time to make a decision, we’ve agreed that without unity, we won’t move forward. We call it “red light, yellow light, green light” decision-making. It’s a great tool for any crossroad discussion.
If both of us give a project the green light, it is full speed ahead. If it’s a yellow light for either of us, we need to talk and pray further. But if one of us puts up a red light, we stop, take a step back and work toward unity. And we both agree that there is going to be only one set of values used in making our choices — God’s values, found in the Bible.
Peace in our home and peace with God are worth more to us than getting our way on a decision. We’ve learned to appreciate the truth of Psalm 133:1, knowing how good and pleasant things are when God’s people live together in unity.
Chuck Bentley is the CEO of Crown Financial Ministries and host of the national radio broadcast “My MoneyLife.”