The two of us had very different financial upbringings. My husband, Eric grew up with many of the frills of life even though his single mother often couldn't really afford the luxuries they enjoyed. Yet, he knew how to go without just fine too. The thing he hadn't really practiced was saving money. He could go with or without it, but if he had it, that cash would burn a hole in his pocket and escape.
I, on the other hand, had lived with very a frugal family. My parents had their sights set on buying a house and saved every penny in that endeavor. So, I saved too. And I figured we would skip eating out, movies and pretty much every luxury in our attempt to finance college expenses and saving for a house.
Boy, was I wrong!
Eric wanted to enjoy our marriage and celebrate life. Somehow, that equated spending money. Nearly every time we would walk into a store together I would hold my breath, cringing over the things he would want to buy. As I look back on it, he didn't want any thing all that extravagant; it was just that I had expected something different than he did when it came to handling our money.
The real heartburn came when I would try to convince him that he shouldn't buy something. I hate to see wives nagging their husbands, and I didn't want to join the ranks of hen peckers. But I was the one who balanced the checkbook and tracked our available funds. So sometimes I was just operating out of my save, save, SAVE mentality and other times there really was no money for the item he wanted.
If I forced my opinion in the matter, Eric would relent, but I felt guilty. I felt unsubmissive and out of order. Besides, my husband was incredibly generous with me, and I wasn't as generous with him. We needed someone bigger than us to fix this problem.
I began praying over the issue, my attitude included. The Lord began to show me that neither one of us was right. As flawed people we often don't have God's perspective on the issues of life that snag us. It isn't a matter of he's right and she's wrong. The Lord showed me how I felt that life was more manageable, more in control, my control, if there was money in the bank. If control was my motive for saving, it was wrong. If good stewardship was my motive for saving, that was right. But a right action with wrong motive is still wrong!
A good friend and I began praying Scripture over our husbands together. Finances were an issue for both of our marriages. We began to pray that God's truth would wash clean all of our notions about handling money so that we would be united in His truth rather than divided by our own opinions. My friend, Lisa, also held me accountable to letting God do the work instead of me doing the nagging. When Eric would want something I didn't think we could afford, I would simply pray that God would lead Eric to be a good steward of His money. I might share my opinion but would let him and God make the final decision. I prayed that God's Word would ring louder in my husband's ears than my words.
Today, things are different. Eric balances the checkbook so he always knows how much cash is available, and I don't have to convince him of what we do or don't have. He seeks the Lord's counsel on even relatively small purchases in his endeavor to honor the Lord with all that He has given us. Eric has taken godly leadership of our finances and that friction that existed before has dissipated.
I have changed too. I don't need that control and my faith has grown. I have learned to trust that God is working inside Eric, I don't have to play the role of his conscience. Even when I feel like I can't trust Eric to make the right decision and I am tempted push my "right" opinion on him, I can be quiet and patient, trusting God to work in both of us, even in our mistakes- mine included!
We don't have a perfect perspective on money matters. We are still learning a lot. But we are learning together and are drawn closer as we search out God's opinions rather than pushing our own.
Just the other day Eric told me the Lord had been teaching and changing him in regard to money matters. It wasn't something he had sought out, but something the Lord had just done in his heart. He said he knew it was because Lisa and I had been praying for him. Whose words do you want ringing in your spouse's ears, yours or God's?
Contact the ministry office for a list of Scripture prayers to get you started praying over your marriage: mailto:[email protected]
August 18, 2009
April Motl and her husband, Eric, minister at their church in Southern California where he is a pastor on staff. April is the founder of In His Eyes Ministries; a teaching ministry devoted to helping women see their life from God's perspective. For more information about the ministry visit www.InHisEyesMinistries.com. For a list of ideas to help your marriage through these four "full plate" issues, contact [email protected]. Also, for the ladies out there, check out the new Bible study My Reflection In His Eyes: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You to dig deeper into understanding the Lord's love for you.