Money Issues Before the Marriage

Q:  I want to get married but my fiancé(e) and I have very different attitudes about money. Is it possible to work these out?

A: Money is a HUGE issue in many marriages—and disagreements over money lead to many divorces. Listen to Harmony’s story:

“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.”

Marriage is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in this lifetime. It is not what college you’ll go to. It is not what car you’ll drive. It’s not whether to buy a house or rent an apartment. And it’s certainly not what your college major is. The two biggest decisions you’ll ever make is choosing Jesus as your Lord and then choosing your spouse.

We believe your eternity is secured when you put all of your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. But this side of eternity, your relationship with Christ is going to be very much impacted by whom you choose as your mate. Trust issues are very large, because when it comes to money, it has to do with integrity. You need to clear the air on money issues before you commit to another person for life. 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 take the time 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 renting an apartment, eating out, etc.

There are two issues in this situation Harmony described above. On the one hand, it is the money. If you are stepping into marriage where your spouse already has a tremendous amount of debt that creates insecurity for you, then that’s a major issue. Yet the second issue is even more important: What is your future spouse’s attitude toward money? Are you both desiring to be good stewards of what God gives you—being honest, sharing it, being generous with it, being responsible with it? If you’re finding red flags in this area, then you need to be very concerned. You might want to step back for awhile and talk things through. Get advice. Be willing to look far into the future instead of what your heart is telling you today. A broken engagement is far easier than a broken marriage.