Common Ground

Steve Arterburn

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.

Standing Against Financial Trends

Steve Arterburn

It takes a great deal of courage and conviction to stand against the financial trends of the day. For example, the over-the-top housing boom of 2004 and 2005 gave most people an excuse to pull the windfall equity out of their houses and spend the money on unnecessary purchases. Or they sold their newly appreciated’and previously adequate’home and moved on up, garnering for themselves a larger piece of the pie, and a bigger mortgage to boot. There’s certainly nothing wrong with selling at the top of the market. But the trend in society is not to save windfalls, or even hard-earned excesses, but to spend them impulsively.

 

It’s true that Jesus said in the book of Matthew that we’re to take no thought for tomorrow. But these words were given in the context of Jesus saying, ‘Seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well’ (v. 33). Therefore, the question is: what does it mean to seek God’s kingdom first?

With regard to money, it means to live by the teaching of Scripture: Live modest, frugal, generous lives; work and save diligently as an expression of faithful trust; acknowledge that everything comes from and therefore belongs to God; adopt the attitude of a steward’a manager of that which God has entrusted to you’and seek His approval for what you do with that which is His.

Finances and Recovery

How would you answer the question, “Am I doing all I can in my recovery today?” If you strongly respond in the affirmative, then skip down to the closing paragraph, you are probably due a reward. On the other hand, if you find yourself reframing the question”Am I doing what others perceive as my trying (whether or not it is the most I can do)?” Then read on, you are probably struggling to maintain sobriety. I pray these thoughts will help.

Intention, no matter how good, misleads an individual to think he is on the right path when he really is not. Personal finance is an area that is not openly discussed; yet most acting out behaviors take money. Without this resource a sexually compulsive man can not purchase the means to feed his addiction. But expanding recovery behaviors around finances can play a large role in the journey to health.

Just think of the full amount your acting out behaviors cost you. The purchase of pornography, phone sex and prostitutes constitutes a direct type of expense. But don’t overlook the indirect costs like guilt offerings, (remember the stone Kobe Bryant bought his wife) legal fees, and child support. If you add the time lost while acting out, as an earning opportunity, the overall cost is phenomenal. One member of a therapy group estimated his cost to be half a million dollars!

Now, using adjusted thinking to put the most into your recovery let me suggest two proactive paths for your journey. First, set up financial accountability with a peer in recovery. Here are some suggestions:

  • Only use checks or a credit card and have your accountability partner review the bank or credit company statement each month
  • Disclose to both your spouse (if married) and accountability partner all sources of your income
  • Delete any hiding places for extra cash
  • Do not carry much cash with you

Being open and honest with your financials could save your sobriety. Second, budget for recovery by establishing a line item in your planned expenditures. Things to consider can include:

  • Counseling for individual, group and/or couples therapy
  • Literature to gain understanding of sexual addiction and stay abreast of sobriety techniques
  • Workshops for support and connection with the larger recovering community
  • Giving to help others in their journey of recovery

You spent money on the illness. Why not use your resources, now, for your health?

Doing whatever it takes with your finances will kick your structure into high gear. The money you both earn and save will be a blessing as you will be able to reward your sobriety with appropriate gifts at significant milestones. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “God (has given) us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Are you doing the best you can today for Him today?

Bob Damrau, MS, LPC

For more help please see Every Man’s Battle.
And if you are married, please join us for our next New Life Weekend with your spouse.