My husband and I have been married for three years, and he is the one who manages our household finances. I work, and have to give him the money that I earn, and if I need something, I have to ask him for it and tell him why I need it…. I’d like to sometimes keep some of the money that I earn, but he gets angry and makes me give all of it to him. He says that I have to submit to him and respect his decision. I’m tired of this! I’d like to have a little money in my purse and not have to ask him every time I need something. What should I do?

Dear Friend,

We understand why you feel frustrated. However, there are many details that we don’t know and can’t understand. Does your husband have insufficient funds to pay all the bills each month, with just not enough money to go around? Have you ever had a problem with running up credit card bills? Are you prone to impulse spending? Did you have personal debt or loans when you got married?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then there is a reason for your husband’s actions, even though it sounds like he is not very wise in the way he is handling the situation. However, if your answer to all the questions is no, then your husband may be misinformed about the roles of husbands and wives in marriage.

Most marriage vows do include the promise of the woman to submit to her husband. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”(1) However, in conjunction with that teaching, he also wrote, “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”(2) The expression “as their own bodies” clearly means that the husband should treat his wife as his equal, just as he treats himself. What he gets, she gets: equal, not less than.

We recommend that each couple make up a budget together, with both of them understanding the amount that is necessary to pay the bills plus the amounts for savings and an emergency fund. Both husbands and wives also have personal expenses for haircuts and clothing. These items should be in the budget as well. It doesn’t really matter who actually pays the bills; what matters is that the decisions are agreed upon together.

We also recommend that each spouse have an amount of money to spend each week, without giving account to the other. That amount has to be dependent on how much money is left over in the budget. It could be as small as the value of a cup of coffee, or as large as the couple agrees upon. If the wife then wants to buy a birthday gift for the husband, she doesn’t have to ask him for the money.

We suggest that you seek professional counseling so that you can work out the details of this issue before it further harms your relationship.

We wish you the best,

1 Eph 5:22
2 Eph 5:28