My wife and I have been married for eighteen months and I am very confused…. I don’t understand why my wife has absolute control of the money that we both earn…. It bothers me a lot because we both work. Sometimes I think it was a mistake to have gotten married.

The truth is that I am very confused. Please help me.

Dear Friend,

We are glad that you have told us your story because it is obviously bothering you a great deal. Money is one of the major reasons for marital conflicts, and your issue is common to many couples. It is important to take immediate steps to resolve your problem, so that it won’t affect your marriage permanently.

When two individuals become one through the sacred institution of marriage, there are many ways in which they have to learn to compromise. Financial compromise can be the most difficult. Money that previously belonged to just one of the two, now belongs to both. This is a harsh reality for individuals who have been accustomed to having total power over their own resources. Each person must now compromise with his or her spouse about how to spend the family income. Every new married couple must set aside time to make a budget and pay bills together. When one spouse does this alone, the other spouse tends to misunderstand and resent the way that the money is spent. It sounds like this has been your problem.

Agree with your wife on when the two of you will sit down together and work on your budget. Make a list of the monthly expenses that are always the same, such as your rent, car payments, and insurance. Figure the average of the amount you spend on utilities, groceries, and taxes. If you have debts such as credit card accounts or school loans, you must also give priority to repaying these liabilities. Subtract the total of these non‑negotiable expenses from your total monthly income. The amount that is left over is the amount that you must discuss. Unfortunately, when many couples actually add up their bills, they find that there is no money left over. That fact is so depressing to them that they use credit cards or loans to buy some of the extras that they want, such as clothing, eating out, and entertainment. This practice only makes the situation worse, and when the credit card accounts accumulate, they finally realize the seriousness of the situation they face.

If there is some money left over after all the bills are paid, we suggest that each spouse get an amount that he or she is free to spend on extras, such as clothing and entertainment. It may be necessary to save the monthly amounts for a period of time in order to purchase an item that is costly. Couples should also set aside some money for joint goals they have set together, such as buying a house or saving for a child’s education. And all of us are responsible to do our part to help those around us who are in need.(1)

Don’t love money; love your wife! The Apostle Paul taught this principle two thousand years ago,(2) but it still applies today. If you keep your priorities straight, you and your wife will be able to come to an agreement that will strengthen your marriage.

We wish you financial harmony,

Linda and Charles
1 Heb 13:16
2 1Ti 3:3