Regardless of whose survey you look at, money always lands near the top of the hot-button issues in marriages. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Whatever is a critical issue in one partner’s life is going to become an issue in the marriage and according to a recent survey by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, 68% of American men are fearful about financial security now and in retirement. Therefore, I can assure you that at least 68% of American marriages have a measure of tension in them as a result.
In 1985, Richard Foster wrote a book titled Money, Sex, and Power: The Challenge of a Disciplined Life. Think of those three subjects in terms of marriage and you’ll identify three prime places for couples to either stand their ground or seek common ground.
Far too often you’ll stand your ground, holding tenaciously to practices and points of view you’ve either learned from your parents or picked up along the way in life. Most couples enter marriage thinking about money the way their parents did’detailed record keeping or constantly overdrawn; poor credit ratings or great credit ratings; disciplined savers or dedicated shoppers; planning for the future or living for today.
Men, money is an important and strategic area upon which to build consensus in your marriage. But it requires making a commitment and connecting with your spouse. The future is coming, like it or not. It’s up to you and her to find common and faithful ground on this important issue.
In Proverbs 31:29-31, the husband grants his wife her proper prestige with these words:
‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.’
Men, we’ll not only draw prestige from the success of our marriage relationship, but we must also be sure to build up the prestige of our wife. Of course, this begins in the home.
‘Building up’ begins with words, but must be verified and reinforced with actions. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3, ‘Husbands’be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as’heirs with you.’ Acknowledging that your wife is your fellow heir establishes that she’s entitled to the same honor and respect as you. By contrast, you have no right to rob her of what you ought to give, and what God promised she’d have. Oneness isn’t merely a feeling; it’s built on actions.
Moreover, building up the prestige of our wives doesn’t end in the home. What begins there must be carried out into the community. Here again, actions speak louder than words.
Gentlemen, can we justify placing our wives anywhere but in the highest place of prestige in our lives? We must set ourselves to the task of building up our wives’both inside and outside our homes.
The current trend in our society is that more and more wives and mothers are reentering the workplace. Different families have different needs. And many have decided this is what best serves them.
Yet at the same time, some families are bucking this societal trend. They’ve decided it’s not in their family’s best interest to have mom working outside the home. And while this is a great decision for many families, it’s not a decision that comes free from difficulties.
Anytime you buck a societal trend, there’s a price to pay. For mothers who stay home to raise their children, one price they pay is a drop in social status. This is sad because stay-at-home moms work so hard and sacrifice so much. Current characterizations of stay-at-home moms tend to be patronizing at best, and at worst, downright derogatory.
As a result, guys, the choice to stay home with the kids can be hard on your wife’s self-esteem’even if it’s a decision she believes in and is thrilled about.
So if you and your wife have chosen to buck the trend, I encourage you to ask yourself the following three questions:
- What can I do to lighten her load?
- How can I encourage her and affirm the great value of what she’s doing?
- What practical steps can I take to make staying home with our children less physically and emotionally draining on my wife?