by Ray Martin
I’m one of those cheap people, like I don’t usually drink soda at a restaurant because I can get it cheaper at the store (and let’s be honest, I don’t need the calories!) I love buying used stuff on Ebay or at Pawn Shops. I drive a car that was wrecked and rebuilt. I eat most meals at home and bring groceries to my office on Monday to make sandwiches all week for lunch. I even cut my own hair…well what’s left to cut. It’s not that I’m broke, I just don’t like wasting money on things that that I can get for less or do myself, but who knew that being cheap could be good for your marriage?
Protecting Your Marriage
In case you missed our introduction to The Marriage Shield, you can go back and read or watch it to get an idea of why it’s important to keep a relationship together and what it takes to do so. In our last episode on fidelity, we discussed our vows one of which applies to this topic “for richer or for poorer”. Today we will focus on the second of three “F’s” in protecting your marriage, fiscal stewardship.
Financial stress is the leading cause for tension in a marriage, especially for newlyweds as they try to navigate this new blending of income and spending. According to a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, using money foolishly is the second leading cause for women to end a marriage tripling the likelihood of marital breakdown. Even though it’s not as big of an issue for men, misuse of finances is a top cause of tension in a relationship. So when we talk about keeping a marriage together for life, fiscal stewardship is a priority because not being responsible with your money is a serious threat to a relationship.
Financial stress can be particularly intense during the newlywed period when the couple try to blend two lifestyles and two bank accounts into one household. The Choice Wine by Steve Bollman highlights how the top issues causing tension for newlyweds relate to money:
- Preexisting debt
- Balancing work and marriage
- Husband’s job
- Financial Decision Making
Credit card debt, car loans, student loans, and medical expenses are the four areas of preexisting debt that cause stress. The top purchased categories on credit cards are clothing, gasoline, eating out, and travel which are consumable goods and therefore not the best choice for debt which should really be used in cases of investments like a home or an education. Brain imaging reveals that when a person considers buying something a reward is anticipated in the circuitry of the brain, but when considering paying for the purchase a pain region is anticipated. Credit cards were designed to delay the activation of the pain in our brain until after the purchase is made. The problem for a marriage with all of this is that studies indicate that debt and financial stress lead to lower levels of marital satisfaction and increase levels of marital discord. Needless to say, debt is a threat to marriages, but Americans continue to accumulate debt at historic levels.
Work Life Balance
The average full-time worker in the U.S. works approximately 47 hours per week and just over 1,700 hours per year. Riley Leggett’s wisdom about eating dinner with your family every evening is very difficult to do with that kind of workload. 69% of workers check their work email before going to bed. 57% of teenagers eat dinner together with their families at least five nights a week or more. The average worker spends an additional seven hours per week working from home. Technology has given us an unprecedented challenge making it all the more important to be intentional in balancing our professional and domestic worlds.
Here’s what’s at stake, youth who eat dinner with their family five nights a week or more are:
- Twice as likely to spend at least 21 hours with their parents during the week
- 60% less likely to have parents who argue a great deal
- 30% less likely to feel a great deal of stress in their lives
- One and a half more times likely to say that their parents are proud of them
- 30% more likely to have an excellent relationship with their mother
- 60% more likely to have an excellent relationship with their father
- 40% more likely to confide in their parents with a serious problem
- One-third less likely to have tried alcohol
- 60% less likely to have tried marijuana
- 70% less likely to use illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs
- 23% more likely to be have A’s and B’s in school
- 20% less likely to have friends who have tried drugs
- Half as likely to have parents who do not know their children’s friends well.
Save To Give
Our brains are wired to be charitable. We receive a reward in that same circuitry that guides us to buy something when we give. People who are charitable tend to be happier and healthier than average. The more that we save, the more that we can give. Riley Leggett was onto something with this eating with your family philosophy because over an 18 year period skipping one night out of fast food would save you over $37,800 which could equate to an average four year tuition at a state university.
In order to be able to give more, here are some of Steve Bollman’s tips on being a better steward of your money:
- Give the first fruits of your labor to God recognizing that all we have is a gift.
- Keep $8 in your wallet that you must give away.
- Moderate your consumption of media. Not only will you save subscription costs, but it’s full of advertising propaganda on all of the things you just have to buy!
- Live within your means.
- Cut up credit cards until they are paid off.
- Reduce entertainment expenses by eating more meals at home and enjoy nature as recreation.
- Begin saving and gradually increase the amount.
The way we manage spending and finances have tremendous influence on the success of a life-long marriage. Debt and working too much causes stress and tension and limits our ability to spend time with our children which has an exponential effect on their success. Making sacrifices by not buying things that are outside of our means and eating more meals together with our family will greatly reduce the risk of marital breakdown and increase the joy in your family which is why Fiscal Stewardship is the second F of The Marriage Shield.
Resources: The Choice Wine by Steve Bollman of Paradisus Dei