"My spouse came into our marriage with lots of undisclosed debt. What can I do?"
Money is a huge issue in many marriages – and disagreements over money lead to many divorces. Here is a personal story that was shared with us on our radio program:
I just put off our wedding because I didn't think we were ready. My concern is money issues. My fiancé has some debt and he's not being the most responsible when it comes to paying it off. Our pastor told us that it would be best for us to work on that before we got married. My bigger concern is that I'm having a hard time trusting him when it comes to money and when it comes to decisions that he's making. I feel like I've prayed and prayed and prayed for him, and I'm almost to the point that I don't know what to pray anymore. I'm kind of exhausted in that area. And…it really, really scares me.
We believe your eternity is secured when you put all your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. But this side of eternity, your relationship with Christ is very much affected by whom you choose as your spouse. Trust issues are significant, because when it comes to money, integrity matters. You need to clear the air on money issues regularly in your marriage. Are you being honest with each other? Is there full disclosure of debts? Are you in agreement on how to use the money you earn? A good way to do this is to work out a simple budget for how you will spend the money you earn each month. It also helps to determine what you can afford when it comes to how much you give, save, and spend.
There are two issues in the situation described above. The first issue is money. If you step into marriage and your spouse already had a tremendous amount of debt that creates insecurity for you, that's a major issue. Yet the second issue is even more important: What is your spouse’s attitude toward money? See a counselor to help you resolve the trust issues in your marriage. Our book Healing the Hurt in Your Marriage discusses ways to work through wounds in marriage in order to rebuild trust.
Are you both desiring to be good stewards of what God gives you – being honest, sharing it generously, being responsible with it? Get advice: spiritual advice from a pastor or wise friend and financial advice from an accountant or financial planner. Be willing to look far into the future instead of what your heart is telling you today.
The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, I've wondered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10