By Emmanuel Abimbola, Crosswalk.com
Dealing with money problems in a marriage can be one heck of a challenge. Times like this are when the faith of Christian couples is tested, and their love for each other is tried.
Financial crises can stem from different causes such as job loss, a layoff, fraud, unexpected medical expenses, credit card debt, etc. Anyone who has dealt with any or some of these experiences will understand how devastating this feels.
Financial crises can pop up in the blink of an eye for any family, which usually marks the beginning of many other problems. You find yourself stranded on the side of the road with a slashed tire or smoke pouring from the hood of your car and still have to deal with several other episodes of financial problems once you finally make it home.
Times like this put married couples through chaos and confusion. While many marriages can't survive the strain it puts on the couple, a Christian marriage always has the grace to pull through.
In times like this, Christian couples must be calm and move closer to God in prayers and faith. It says in the book of Psalms 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God can weather the storm and guide them through the crisis safely with divine wisdom, grace, and favor.
Also, while praying to God and having faith in his divine interventions, the couple needs to be supportive of each other in this trying period.
Here are some ways you can be helpful to your spouse and effectively handle the financial crises in your marriage:
1. Communicate Openly
When confronted with a financial crisis, many thoughts and questions run through your mind. Questions like what you are going to do and how you are going to pay the bills.
These and many other scary thoughts and questions will continuously roll over and over in your mind. If you aren't careful, anxious thoughts like "What if our car gets repoed or we can't afford groceries?" will cause fear and make you panic.
You need to open up to your spouse about your fears and worries and talk about them. Communication will allow your spouse to discover areas they can offer support.
2. Cut Down on Your Spending
This is a time to cut down on your spending. You will need to set priorities on your needs and wants. When you write out the list of things you need to cut out (wants), take the other half of your list (needs) and consider affordable alternatives.
Try to live on half your means and spend only when there is no other alternative. Spend carefully and intentionally.
While you are at it, learn to cut down on your utility bills. Water and electricity bills need to be reduced, and the same goes for your phone and internet. Always turn off the drippy faucet, cut back on long showers, and think of ways to minimize how often you run the dishwasher or washing machine.
You can also reduce electrical consumption by developing the habit of turning off all light bulbs in the house during the day and using electrical gadgets only when necessary.
The significant step in dealing with financial crises is for you and your spouse to avoid incurring additional spending on credit cards when you’re already financially strained.
3. Acknowledge Emotions and Avoid Blames
A financial crisis produces feelings of bitterness, regrets, anger, and frustrations. And these bad feelings can have a consequential impact on your relationship with your spouse, your children, your friends, and even your extended family.
You might even be tempted to doubt the existence of God in your life, but you must not give up. Rather, be like Job in the Bible, who lost everything, but his faith in God sustained him (1 Corinthians 10:13).
No matter what led to this financial crisis you are passing through, you need to avoid blaming your spouse and God, as this will only cause more harm than good. The damage has already been done, so it is not the time to figure out who is to blame.
Blaming your spouse will only fuel their frustrations and anger. It will also make them feel more guilty and increase their feeling of regret, which can produce toxic shame.
In times like this, you must be more supportive of your spouse emotionally and speak words of encouragement to them.
4. Look to God and Count Your Blessings
When batting financial crises in your marriage, you feel like your world is falling apart. This is when you need to seek the face of God the most, rather than sulking and drowning in the sad thoughts and fears that cloud your mind.
The book of Psalms 37:7 admonishes you to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him. You need to continue the habit of daily devotionals and prayers with and for your spouse.
You also need to make your conversations less about the things you lack. Try not to focus so much on your needs and wants. This is a good time to be truly grateful to God for all the things you do have (Psalm 103:1-6).
It is more rewarding to recount the goodness and blessings of God in your life, even though you are going through rough times and things feel overwhelming. Always remember that even in your current crisis, there is a blessing from God you aren’t even aware of.
Start by observing the room you are sitting in. Do you have a roof over your head? Clothes on your back? Food in the pantry? Do you have healthy, happy children? Do you live in a country or community that allows you to worship God freely?
Once you begin creating this mental list, it's easier to see just how much God has blessed you, mitigating the drowning feelings of your current financial predicament.
5. Take Charge and Work Together
Do not allow your current financial problem to consume you or ruin your relationship with your spouse. Learn to channel your energy for productive chores or tasks. Do not let the crisis affect your romance in your marriage; be more attentive to your spouse's emotional and physical needs than before.
You also need to help your spouse in tackling the problem in every way you can. Focus on your shared dreams and mutual interests as you work together because having a clear understanding of your goals and staying focused unites your hearts and souls and keeps you motivated more than anything else.
6. Be Open to Assistance and Don't Give Up
During your time of crisis and praying to God, he certainly hears your cry for help, and he will raise helpers to assist you until you are back on your feet. These helpers can come in various forms and at different times of your struggle.
However, you must be open-minded and humble enough to discern and accept their help. Do not let pride deprive you of that help you desperately need. Getting help doesn't mean you are weak or a beggar since God may once again put you in the position of the giver.
There is a time to give and a time to receive; don’t let your ego or pride steal your blessings from you.
Also, do not let your current situation take away your dream or your desire to break through in life. This is a time to help your spouse revisit those dreams and visions for the future.
Bring up conversations about things they are passionate about doing. And you will be surprised that this crisis might simply be the perfect opportunity to give that dream a try, as sometimes crises are the reset button believers desperately need to reconnect with God's original purpose for their lives. This is why you have to be open-minded.
When in a financial crisis, it is of utmost importance for couples to acknowledge their weaknesses in money management and work together to overcome them. Identify the way you can both improve and be open to help and guidance from professionals if necessary.
Developing healthy financial management skills is important in your marriage. It helps you make wise financial decisions and manage your finances effectively.
This would be of immense value to your recovery and will save you from falling back into the same or a different financial mess in the future.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Emmanuel Abimbola is a creative freelance writer, blogger, and web designer. He is a devout Christian with an uncompromising faith who hails from Ondo State in Nigeria, West Africa. As a lover of kids, Emmanuel runs a small elementary school in Arigidi, Nigeria.