when you make the decision to get married, you make the decision to travel into the unknown with another person. it sounds pretty romantic when the minister says these words: “for better or worse”…until the “worse” comes.
love is pretty blind at the altar.
we start out our lives together with feelings of invincibility. love will conquer all. love will keep us together. all you need is love. until you need some money.
not every marriage has to weather an affair. most couples don’t have to experience the death of child. few ever come face to face with traumatic, life-changing accidents. but every couple i’ve ever rubbed elbows with has experienced financial trouble.
in the normal course of life, there is nothing quite like the crush of money problems. it can bring out the worst in people who say they love each other. the pressure of mounting bills. the weight of credit card debt. unexpected trips to the emergency room. and don’t get me started on the financial liability of raising kids…
* there’s nothing quite like money problems to suck the joy out of living. this is no joke. right in the middle of writing this paragraph, i get the call from our car mechanic who informs me that wanda’s car needs two new front axles, two new tires and a new catalytic converter. as soon as i’m done, i’m going out to the garage to pump up the tires on my mountain bike. she only works about two miles from home…
money problems create fear. they cause us to live in denial. worry and anxiety strangle faith. clear thinking and “big picture” living gets choked off by the myopia of tunnel vision. and the relationship of love gets put to the test.
conversation becomes dominated by money-related issues. in fact, everything becomes a money-related issue. hopes and dreams get put on the shelf, in favor of survival. shrinking income seems to cause everything else to shrink also.
shrinking intimacy. shrinking patience. shrinking happiness. shrinking laughter. shrinking time. shrinking faith.
…and sometimes, shrinking love.
wanda and i experienced a really dark financial time in our life together. when we left the big church we served for years to become missionaries to mexico and the inner city of san diego, we had the responsibility of raising our financial support in order to live. the leadership of the church, where i had been the youth minister, made an unbelievably gracious financial commitment to us as we left…nearly all we needed to take care of our basic living expenses. it was awesome!
but three months after we had relocated and dove head-first into our responsibilities, the church leaders had some internal conflict on how money needed to be spent, and one of the fallouts was our financial support. let’s just say it took years and years to recover.
those were some really difficult years. we were never far from the pounding of financial pressure. our marriage and our family life was touched by our financial reality every day. just like some of yours.
your financial difficulties are unique to you. maybe you need some credit counseling. maybe you need to have your spending habits challenged. maybe you need to read a book or attend a workshop on money management. maybe you need a job…or another job. maybe you need to set some goals…or figure out why you always seem to sabotage the ones you set. i don’t know. i can’t speak for you.
but one thing i am confident of. the promise you made to each other on your wedding day is the greatest defense you have to fight the financial battle. you gave your word to god that you would stand by each other, support each other, honor each other, serve each other and love each other…for better or worse.
the best thing you can do in a money crisis? remember that no matter what, you have each other. and god will always honor that commitment…for your good and the good of the kingdom. that’s his promise to you.
the best thing you can do when you’re not in a money crisis? the same thing.