Money and Your Mate
About the Guest
Should you handle your money any differently now that you're married? Tommy Nelson, pastor of Denton Bible Church, gives couples advice about handling money after marriage.
Tom NelsonTom Nelson has been the pastor of Denton Bible Church, in Denton, Texas since 1977. Each year, Tom speaks to over 20,000 Song of Solomon Conference attendees and countless others via radio. In addition to the Song of Solomon materials, he is author of three books: The Book of Romance, The Big Picture: Understanding the Story of the Bible, and The Problem of Life with God. Tom has been married to Teresa Nelson for more than 30 years, and they have two grown sons, Ben and Joh...more
Should you handle your money any differently now that you’re married? Tommy Nelson, pastor of Denton Bible Church, gives couples advice about handling money after marriage.
Money and Your Mate
Bob: Do you remember the best advice or the best practices that you and Barbara began to employ around the subject of money, when you were first married?
Dennis: You know, I don't remember a specific piece of advice; but I do remember that I treated the money as our money, not my money.
Dennis: I think that was important because, as we got married, Barbara was used to having her money, and I was used to having my money. That's usually not a problem for the guy—
Dennis: —because he just kind of takes over; you know? But I remember thinking, "She really needs to be able to have some of her own money to be able to do with as she sees fit, but we need to treat this as our money.”
There was an accountability that we kind of had to learn and to grow into as we started out our marriage, where I realized I just couldn't go spend as I pleased. I had said, “No,” to the single life and to living life on my own and doing things as I pleased.
I'd taken a wife, and that meant that I needed to think about pleasing her and needed to, as a couple, pull in the same direction and make decisions around the same set of values.
Bob: Well, that's actually the first piece of advice that Tommy gives as he spoke to his congregation, on this subject, several months ago. This is from a message on marriage and money from Pastor Tommy Nelson.
Tommy: Money is kind of a mine that goes off in marriage. The problems with money are problems that kind of fester down there. They form a lack of trust and a lack of the feeling of being respected and nurtured. Out of that grow great problems and alienation in marriage.
Trust me on this—these are not merely biblical principles. When I look at these, there is a particular face that I see behind each of them. There has been a historical conflict that we've had in one of our studies / in one of our counseling sessions with people that have violated these.
Number 1 Principle of Money—well, this isn't a study on money—it is a study on mates and money. The number one issue of mates and money is that it is not—with my wife and me—it's not my money / it's our money. My wife doesn't make money in the sense of having a job that makes money, but that makes no difference. The two become one flesh. The money that you men make is not your money. It's ya'll's money. [Laughter] A lot of times, a woman may have a career that out-earns her husband nowadays. Madam, it is not your money—it is ya'll's money.
This statement, whenever I hear it in marriage, problems are on the way—it goes like this: “I pay the bills around here," or "I make the money.
“That's why I can't be challenged”—is the assumption—“on how I spend it.” Like I say, my wife doesn't make money, but my wife can spend the money however she sees fit on the maintenance and the care of our home because it's our money. The two are one—physically, financially, in all ways, emotionally.
Number 2: Even though it's our money, you check with your mate before you make a major expenditure—underline the word, "major." There is a sense in which you have the freedom to do what you need to do in certain areas—and that's Number 3—but on Number 2, you check with your mate, especially when you are about to put yourself in debt through a credit card.
On a major expenditure, you always check with your wife or your husband. You don't want to surprise your mate in the area of money. You don't want the credit company or the bank surprising your mate with what you did that you didn't tell them.
I had a woman say to me one time—I'll never forget this / I can just quote it to you verbatim—she said, "He will not give me the freedom to buy a $14 dress pattern, but he will come home with $800 in tires. Somehow, that's okay for him to do that; but it's not okay for me." So, you always check with your mate when you make a major expenditure—guys as well.
Number 3: A woman needs the freedom to run a home. There is a certain margin that a woman has to spend independently for the maintenance of that house.
I have to give my wife the freedom to be what Paul calls her—the oikodespotes—the house despot. What a word! [Laughter] My wife has to have a sense of leeway. When I take care of the mowers and all the stuff that guys do—Tom the Tool Man—I've got to have a sense of freedom to maintain all of those things that are my responsibility.
I had a woman one time—this is a fact—she came in, saying, "Whenever I have to buy,"—and she mentioned a piece of lingerie—she said: "When I have to buy this, my husband drops me off at the mall. I go inside and get the exact figure, plus tax, to the penny. I come out and give it to him. He gives me the exact change, to the penny. I go inside and pay for it.”
Now, the man that she was saying that about did not feel that he was being demeaning to that woman. He felt he was being holy. I said to him, "No, you're what's called dumb." [Laughter] “You're dumb because, in your seeking to control, you are treating your wife like a child! Whatever you think you're gaining, you are losing the affinity of your wife for you. If she's not that trustworthy, you shouldn't have married her. You trust her with things.” But he thought he was some kind of frugal, smart husband. Well, you have to give your mate that kind of freedom to do what she/he needs to do.
A woman—Number 4—can have her money. Proverbs 31: "She considers a field from her earnings, and she buys it." Fellas, that woman of Proverbs 31—if you'll excuse the term / you're not supposed to use it in evangelicalism—but you'll find she is an extremely independent and liberated woman. She sells belts to the tradesmen. She considers a field from her earnings, and she buys it. As long as it has consent and is not breaching the husband's place, it's good to let a woman do what she would like to do with ya'll's money.
Number 5: Decide who does the books in your family. It may not be the man / it may not be the wage-earner. In my family, my wife does the books. She does a wonderful job, and I let her do it.
Now, let me give you a bit of guidance on this. If you're the one who does the books, you have to do them well. You can't mess up in the area of finances and where your money is going. You have to do it well.
And, number two, if your mate is the one who does the books, then you, in a sense, have to submit yourself to what works best for her. My wife does the books. In that area of life, I have to be, in a sense, submissive to what works best for her. If she needs me to bring in certain receipts and whatever, then I have to go by what she thinks is right. I can't use my position to usurp her. Fellas, if you have your wife keep the finances, then, you have to be acquiescent and make sure that it's easy for her.
And, ladies, if your husband keeps the finances, then you, especially in that area, have to make life easy for him to do it.
Number 6: Debt distracts. Debt—not just debt / but credit cards—the whole essence of debt is that you have what you haven't earned. Now, you obligate yourself, in the future, to pay that person back. That's what the root word of credit is—credo—that means, "I believe,"—“They believe, and they trust me, that I will pay them back.”
The Bible says that the borrower is the lender's slave. Stay out of debt all that you can because, when you take debt, you give up an equal amount of freedom. There are certain things that you can't do anymore because you are obligated, in future days, to pay back that money. The Bible tells you to pay what you owe them.
Debt is like a pet anaconda. Anacondas are very pretty—they really are. But when you have one, as a pet, and you begin to feed him, he gets bigger, and he wraps around you—it can now crush the life out of you. The Bible allows for debt, but not debt that you don't pay. You have to keep up with your debt. When you go into debt, you have now obligated yourself for future days.
Number 7: First things first. There are rules of where your money goes that you need to understand. Are you all familiar with where the Bible says the first fruits of your income go? Proverbs: “Honor the Lord with the first of your income, and He will cause your vats to overflow and your barns to be filled [Proverbs 3:9]."
I am amazed how God uses money to make us honor Him. That's why it is said that your treasure is where your heart is. You can talk all you want to about spirituality, but if it doesn't get into your lifeblood—which is your money that keeps you alive / that keeps stuff on your table—your religion is just an intellectual or a doctrinal issue.
A Campus Crusade® guy told me, early in my marriage—I'm so glad he did—he said, "Whatever you make, you honor God right off the top." My wife and I began doing that—if we had $10, we'd honor God with a buck. God has always taken care of us: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having a sufficiency, you'll have abundance for every good deed [2 Cor. 9:8].” “He who sows abundantly shall reap abundantly [2 Cor. 9:6].” God has always taken care of us.
So, right off the top, you honor God.
After you do that, you always pay what you owe—you pay your bills. Then, right after that, you pay you—and the idea of a savings: “Much wine and delight is in the house of the righteous, but the wicked swallows it up [Proverbs 21:20].” Wicked people spend quickly anything that they get, quite often.
So honor God with your first fruits, then pay your bills, set aside some for savings, and the rest—enjoy it and use it. Have fun with it! When you'll make rules where your money goes, as a priority, the budgeting process takes care of itself. Once you honor God, Caesar, and the future, now you can enjoy today with the money that's allotted to you.
If you won't go into debt, you can actually make it through life without a lot of financial problems. I'll be honest with you—my wife and I don't have, really, a budget / we have a recognition of where we are—but we honor God, pay our bills, and then we set some aside. Then, the rest of it—Rocky Road, skiing, crunchy peanut butter—see? You enjoy it—and incidentally—both have to be onboard.
Now, what do I mean? Whenever I do women's Q&As, one of the major questions that is asked is: "Tom, my husband doesn't give to the Lord's work. What should I do?"—
—meaning, "Should I / do I have to usurp my husband and take over the reins of our home?" My answer always is: "Our church doesn't need your money, but you need to be obedient. Don't make your husband give—let God fix him." God can. God can fix him real quickly.
So, fellas—and if the shoe fits on this, you wear it. I hope that your wife is not put in a continual place of not seeing the blessing of God because of the lack of leadership and trust of a materialistic and self-willed husband. You honor God and lead your family—so both have to be onboard with this.
Bob: Well, that is Pastor Tom Nelson. We've been calling him "Tommy" this week. He's Tom now—Pastor Tom Nelson.
Dennis: Is he really Tom?
Bob: That's what it said on the CD—he’s Tom Nelson.
Dennis: He was real unclear on what he was just saying.
Bob: [Laughter] I was just thinking, “Some of our listeners just got a divine spanking from Pastor Tom Nelson.” It's probably a good thing; right?—“…whom the Lord loves, He chastens…[Proverbs 3:12]”
Dennis: I'm telling you—I really believe what we have done today is we have allowed the culture to take the subject of giving out of the Christian community's teaching repertoire. We need a fresh visit to the Scriptures to take a look at what the Bible says is true about giving. It is a privilege to give / it's a responsibility to give—and, as he just mentioned—it should be our decision to give.
Recently, Barbara and I received a little extra money, which meant we had to decide how we were going to allocate some of that extra money, in terms of giving. I could have just done it—it's real easy for a man, I think, to just do it.
Dennis: Instead, I kept asking and, at points, kind of pestering Barbara: "What do you want to do with this? We need to give a portion of this money away. How much do you think we should give? Where should we give it, and how should we go about it?"
You know, that process, not only honored God, but it also honored my wife—that we did it together. Now, that comes, Bob, at the end of doing it wrong many, many times. [Laughter]
Bob: I hear you.
Dennis: I just need you [listeners] to hear—there is the capability, ladies, that your husband can get it right.
Bob: He can grow! [Laughter]
Dennis: It just may take a long time before he gets there, and I'm making fun here. It's no laughing matter to some, who are listening; but I have grown a lot in this area. This is an area that I've wanted to be an area of strength in our marriage and family—and wanted to send a signal to our kids that, “We're a giving family.”
Dennis: You know why?—because I can still remember my southpaw father, my left-handed dad, curling that arm around and writing that magnificent signature of “Ward A. Rainey” on the check. Sunday morning, you could set your clock by it. Sunday school started at 10:00—10:30, the check was written. [Laughter] You could go to the bank with the check being written by that time. That, frankly, sticks in my mind as a model for how Barbara and I started giving, early in our marriage.
Bob: Well, and part of the key to that was that you and Barbara were on the same page. I mean, this was an area where there was not conflict—the two had become one on this subject.
I think about that, Dennis, because one of the major themes of the video series that we put together, called The Art of Marriage®, which is designed to be a Friday night/Saturday event for churches to have their own marriage retreat, either right there at the church or if you want to get away for a weekend somewhere. You can use these videos to be your marriage content for the weekend, and you can help build oneness in the marriages in your church.
We need some of our listeners to partner with us to make this happen. Here’s what we’ll do—if you’ll get in touch with us and say: “We’ll host this at our church,” or “…in our community,” and “We will go ahead and order workbooks for, at least, five couples”— get the workbooks on order—if you’ll do that—we’ll send you the event kit for free / with the DVDs and everything you need to be able to host one of these events.
Find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen—it says, “GO DEEPER.” Look for information about The Art of Marriage video event—40th Anniversary offer. Click on that and find out how you can get the event kit for free.
Again, all you have to do is go ahead and order workbooks for five couples; and we’ll include the event kit at no additional charge.
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With that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. Hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family can worship in church together this weekend. And I hope you can join us back on Monday, when we’re going to talk to a woman who—well, she got the news that no mom ever wants to get—a word from her doctor that the lump in her breast was, indeed, cancer. We’ll talk with Vivian Mabuni about how she dealt with that news and how her family dealt with that news. That comes up Monday. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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