Whose Money?

Remember when we were kids and our parents told us to share? Why was that so hard? Well if we thought it was hard to share our toys it’s even harder to share our money. When you get married it’s time for a change in the mentality of, “Mine!”

When you get married, it is no longer, “your money” and “my money,” but rather “our money.” Likewise, it is no longer “my debts” and “your debts,” but rather “our debts.” When you accept each other as a partner, you accept each other’s liabilities as well as each other’s assets.

A full disclosure of assets and liabilities should be made before marriage. It’s not wrong to enter marriage with debts, but you ought to know what those debts are and agree on a plan for repayment.

Marriage is two becoming one. Applied to finances, this means that all our resources belong to both of us. One of us may be responsible for paying the bills and balancing the checkbook, but this should never be used as an excuse for hiding financial matters. Full and open discussions should precede any financial decision. Marriage is enhanced by agreement in financial matters.

If you’re the “bread-winner” of the family how do you maintain humility and remember that it’s not YOUR money? If you have a lot of debt in your name, do you ever feel blamed by your spouse for that? We can lift one another up if we remember that all we have belongs to the Lord anyway.

How do you work out finances in your home, and remember the “OUR” rule?

Money! An Asset or Liability?

Sometimes it seems as if the more we have, the more we argue about what we have. The poorest of couples in America have abundance compared to the masses of the world’s population. I am convinced that the problem does not lie in the amount of money that a couple possesses, but in their attitude toward money and the manner in which they handle it.

I think a lot of us have an idea in mind of what the perfect home, perfect car, perfect job that seems to be the benchmark of what would make us happy. We get there and then realize, “No, that not quite enough.” Author Jeanette Clift George has said, “The great tragedy in life is not in failing to get what you go after. The great tragedy in life is in getting it and finding out it wasn’t worth the trouble.”When life focuses on getting more money, we have the wrong focus. Our marital relationship and our relationship with God are far more important than how much money we have. Getting our priorities straight is the first step in making money an asset to marriage rather than a liability.

What ways can money be a liability to your marriage? Discuss what you think it looks like when money is an asset to your marriage.

Thoughtful Gifts

Gift giving is a major part of relationships in many cultures.  I was in Chicago when I studied anthropology.  By means of detailed ethnographies, I visited fascinating peoples all over the world.  I went to Central America and studied the advanced cultures of the Mayans and the Aztecs.  I crossed the Pacific and studied the tribal peoples of Melanesia and Polynesia.  I studied the Eskimos of the northern tundra and the aboriginal Ainus of Japan.  I examined the cultural patterns surrounding love and marriage and found that in every culture I studied gift-giving was a part of the love-marriage process.

A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or “She remembered me.”  You must be thinking of someone to give him a gift.  The gift itself is a symbol of that thought.  How often do you think about your spouse throughout your day?  How often do you make that known to them?  This week when you think about your spouse try to show them by giving them a token of your affection, a symbol of that thought.

Winner of April Blog for Books!

Congratulations to Jena, our April Blog for Books winner! Just for commenting on this blog Jena is receiving a copy of Gary Chapman and co-author Ross Campbell’s book The Five Love Languages of Children. If you would like to find out more about our winner you can find her blog at: http://craftymomof4boys.blogspot.com/.

He's Got Personality

Have you ever gone on date with a person and all they wanted to do was talk about themselves? Their life, their problems, their emotional baggage strewn out for you to look at and analyze. It’s probably because they’re a babbling brook. Many of you may be asking what in the world that means.

When it comes to communication there are two extreme personality profiles. First is the babbling brook. This person is constantly picking up the phone to talk to others, in fact, if they get someone’s voicemail they call someone else. If they can’t get someone on the phone they’ll talk to themselves. Whatever they see, whatever they hear, they tell. Some of you are probably turning red saying, “That’s me,” but don’t get too embarrassed because there are likely others out there saying, “I wish I could find someone like that, then I wouldn’t have to worry about conversation starters.”

This personality type is called, the “Dead Sea” personality. These people are perfectly content not to talk. In fact, if you say to a Dead Sea personality, “What’s wrong, why aren’t you talking tonight?” He/she is likely to respond, “Nothing. What makes you think something’s wrong?” These are the kind of people who don’t find long silent car rides awkward, rather they find these car rides enjoyable.

Babbling brooks have a great time with Dead Seas because they are such great listeners, and Dead Seas love not having to carry the weight of the conversation so they enjoy time with babbling brooks. The good news for two babbling brooks is that you can both learn to become better listeners. Likewise two Dead Seas can learn to be more open and to find things to talk about.

Which are you, a babbling brook or a Dead Sea? What ways have you tried or learned to become more balanced?

Knowing Your Needs

After dispelling some of the myths about dysfunctional marriages, you may have been left with more questions than answers. The problem is we all have needs and sometimes it’s hard to know what they are.

What are the inner needs which motivate much of our behavior? Let me mention three.

1. The first is the need to love and be loved. I feel good about myself when I am helping others. Conversely, I feel significant when I believe that someone genuinely loves me and is looking out for my interest.

2. A second inner need is the need for freedom – the desire to order my own life and not be controlled by another. Free to have thoughts, desires, and feelings as a person.

3. A third need is the need for significance – to feel that my life counts for something.

It should be clear that if we don’t understand the inner motivation of our spouse’s behavior, we will likely misjudge their behavior and hurt them deeply. It is worth the effort to try to discover the inner motive behind your spouse’s behavior.

One of the inner needs which motivates our behavior is the need for peace with God. That is why religion is a universal phenomenon. If your wife is attending a weekly Bible study and you are complaining that she is getting too religious, you are going to stimulate her defensive mechanisms, because you are striking at one of her inner needs. Far better to encourage her pursuit and ask yourself, “Which of my needs is going unmet that motivates me to get on her case about her Bible study?” Chances are, you’ll find your answer.

When you share your need with her and she is open about her own needs, you can find a way to meet both of your needs. It should be apparent that in order for this to happen, you must both be in touch with your own inner needs and respect the needs of the other. You are there for each other. This is God’s design.

How can you share your needs with your spouse? What support system do you and your spouse have besides each other? How does it help you both maintain your relationship with each other?

Dispelling the Myths about Dysfunction

Unfortunately, many people in desperate marriages base their lives upon commonly held myths. This week I want to expose some of these myths and challenge you to take constructive action in your marriage.

Myth #1
The first myth is the idea that my state of mind and the quality of my marriage is determined by my environment. “I grew up in a dysfunctional family, so I am destined to failure in my relationships.” This kind of approach leaves one helpless.

Our environment certainly affects us, but it does not control us. You can keep a positive spirit even in a bad marriage, which will affect your emotions and your actions. God can give peace of mind even in the worst of situations.

Myth #2
You’ve probably heard this one: “People cannot change.” This myth fails to realize the reality of human freedom and the power of God. History is filled with accounts of people who have made radical changes in their behavior. From St. Augustine, who once lived for pleasure and thought his desires were inescapable, to Charles Colson, the Watergate criminal who repented and began an international agency to offer prisoners spiritual help, the record is clear: People can and do change, and often the changes are dramatic!

Don’t give up on yourself or your spouse. God is in the business of changing lives. Begin with prayer, and believe that God can and will change you and your spouse.

Myth #3
“When you are in a bad marriage, there are only two options: be miserable for life, or get out.” This myth limits one’s horizons to two equally devastating alternatives.

But there is always something you can do to improve a marriage. You can be a positive change agent in your marriage. Being miserable or getting out are not your only options, and there are loving solutions even in desperate marriages.

Myth #4
“Some situations are hopeless.” Have you said those words? Have you believed them? The person who believes this myth usually also concludes, “My situation is hopeless. Perhaps there is hope for others, but my marriage is hopeless. It has gone on too long; the hurt is too deep.” This kind of thinking leads to depression and sometimes suicide.

God is the God of hope. When you put your hand in His hand, He will lead you through the valley of despair into the plane of hope. With God no one and no situation is hopeless. Focus your eyes on Him rather than your situation.

The Stand-off

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It only takes one person to break the silence. Have you been standing off, refusing to give in and call, waiting for your spouse to make the first move? Why wait? An effort to communicate that you care, that you are open to working on the relationship may be all that it takes to get the process going.

“He failed me. Why should I try to reconcile with him?” That line of reasoning is perfectly normal, but not biblical. In Matthew chapter 18 Jesus instructs us to reach out to those who have sinned against us and seek reconcile. If they won’t turn from their sin, then we take someone with us and lovingly confront them again. If they still refuse to talk with us, then we turn them over to God. We pray for them. We seek to win them by the love of Christ in us.

Reconciliation is hard in any relationship, and it’s even harder in marriage. But God is good. He offers healing. If you and your spouse have been separated in the past but are now reconciled, share an encouraging story for others who may be in that situation right now.