Do You Ever Argue About Money?
“NEVER forget that a marriage is more important than money.” This advice from a married couple touches upon a problem that is widespread.
In today’s world, money is a necessity. So it is understandable that a man who is unemployed or whose take-home pay no longer is adequate is touchy about the subject. A housewife is confronted with soaring prices every time she goes to the market. Uncertainty about how to make ends meet seems to make arguments about money almost unavoidable.
But if unemployment and inflation are what really cause these arguments, why do even some wealthy people—persons not seriously affected by these factors—frequently argue about money? Could it be that something else is even more responsible?
At the Root of the Problem
The Bible is often misquoted as saying: “Money is the root of all evil.” But read the text at 1 Timothy 6:10 in your own Bible and see what it really says. The Authorized Version reads: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
“Money” is one thing; “the love of money” is something else. Money in itself is not bad. Nurturing a love for it is. Not money, but “the love of money” is what may lead a person to do evil things.
Think of the many types of crime that find their roots in human greed and in an inordinate love of money: theft, extortion, blackmail, yes, even murder! But at present our attention is directed to the husband-wife relationship. Can a wrong view of money create marital problems?
Consider the experience of a young German couple who started marriage with very little money. While the husband was finishing his professional training, his wife was forced to work to provide life’s necessities. After graduation the young man set up his own business, which at first provided the couple with only a modest income. This shortage of money often generated arguments, at times rather heated.
In time, however, the man built up a very successful business. Money—at least a shortage of it—was no longer a problem. The couple now had all they needed, yes, even more. They could afford a lovely home, cars, extended vacation trips. But did the arguments about money stop? No. The arguments about how to get along on so little now gave way to ones about what to do with so much.
“Love of money” was developing. Questionable business practices led to bad consciences, which, in turn, created tension between them and their relatives and friends. Worse, this undue preoccupation with making money was ruining their marriage. The result? Divorce, and a broken home for the children. Is money so important that a “love of money” should be allowed to destroy one’s happiness?
In some homes, the husband, if he is the sole wage earner, may use money as a weapon to keep his wife “in her place.” Keeping her purposely short on cash, he makes her overly dependent upon him, forcing her into the humiliating position of constantly having to beg for money to feed and clothe the family properly. Her understandable reaction is one of frustration, which may give vent to bitter arguments.
Sometimes the wife is the more guilty of the two. She may decide to work, not because of any financial need, but because of wanting to enjoy the freedom of having “her own money.” Her financial independence may cause her to develop a pronounced spirit of independence in other matters as well. This is bound to lead to domestic arguments.
What can be done to prevent such family disputes over money?
“Money Is for a Protection”
The Bible sets out a balanced view of money that can contribute much to marital happiness. At Ecclesiastes 7:12 it explains: “Wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.”
Money can be used “for a protection” in many ways. It can pay our rent, buy our food, and provide us with other daily needs. It can also be used in the service of others, thereby ‘protecting’ friendships. Within the family circle it can finance vacation trips or pay for those “little extras”—unexpected gifts, for example—that are so effective in drawing persons closer together. In all these ways, and more, money can serve to protect a marriage.
Normally anything worth protecting is of more importance than the means used to protect it. For example, the human body is more important than the clothing worn to protect it from the elements. Health is more important than the medicine prescribed to protect it from illness. Similarly, a happy marriage is of infinitely greater importance than the money used to protect it.
This realization that money simply serves “for a protection” helps us to keep the more important things in mind, the things you cannot buy with money: a faithful marriage mate, a loyal friend, spiritual and physical health, peace of mind! Money cannot buy any of these.
“Wisdom,” too, can serve “for a protection.” It can safeguard us against overestimating what money can do. The value of money is limited. It can, and often does, desert us at the very time we need it most. But true wisdom does not do that. It can lead us successfully through all sorts of adversities, actually safeguarding our life, and even help us to have God’s approval and the prospect of everlasting life.
How to Avoid Arguments About Money
Avoiding arguments about money does not mean never discussing money or how it should be spent. Lack of communication often causes arguments. Discussions are beneficial, because they bring marriage mates closer together; arguments are not, because they drive the two farther apart. Discussions are loving; arguments are not. Arguments generate unbecoming remarks hard to overlook and even harder to forget. They contribute to estranged relationships and can easily lead to separation or divorce.
Marriage involves sharing, does it not? The “this-is-mine-and-that-is-yours” philosophy is generally not conducive to a happy marriage. How much better for couples to work out a practical budget by listing their priorities and coming to an agreement on how to spend their money. Periodic discussions can take rising prices and current family needs into consideration. By learning to trust each other, by exercising common sense, and by overcoming pride, couples can do much to avoid the dangers of arguing about money.
Learning to be content is a secret of happiness. At Hebrews 13:5, the Bible counsels: “Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things.”
Most of us cannot have everything we want, but all of us can learn to appreciate the things we have. Do not breed discontent by nourishing longings for things that are out of financial reach. Opening too many charge accounts and overusing credit cards will not help you to save money nor to live within your means, but can trigger nasty arguments about money. Married couples who have learned the secret of contentment have much happiness. Seldom will they be tempted to argue about money. It is just not that important!
If you overemphasize money’s importance and develop a love for it, becoming its slave, you will bring upon yourself many sorrows. Keep it in its proper place, view it simply as a “protection,” make it your slave, and you will experience greater contentment and happiness! Remember, “a marriage is more important than money.”