It is true that I did not marry for money. However, there were days when I could have divorced over it.
I’m kind of not kidding.
Money was a hot topic in our household in those early years of marriage. We had some serious knock-down, drag-outs over money. For instance, there was the time in Year 2 when Dave told me that there wasn’t enough money for certain feminine essentials and that I’d have to figure out something else. (Excuse me?!) There was also that time in Year 6 when I held the tax refund check hostage, refusing to let him know that we had received it…for weeks. (Not my brightest move.)
Here we are in Year 21, and I’m pretty embarrassed by the way we let money take center stage so many times in our relationship. To be honest, the real problem was that we each wanted control over the same thing: Cash. Heaven knows there wasn’t enough of it to actually share that control! I don’t know that there would have ever been enough money to share in those years. There was too much self-centeredness—especially in me.
I remember the first time I felt like maybe Dave had my best interests at heart when it came to money. It was after a couple of years of me practicing the gentle art of thinking before speaking. Because I could not be trusted to speak the truth in love when I was even slightly annoyed, I was fairly quiet when certain topics arose that, historically speaking, were tense in nature. As a result, Dave had a lot more opportunity to speak without getting verbally accosted. I think he liked it.
Anyway, I remember him coming to me some years ago and asking if I would be in a good place to go over some financial things the following evening. Even though our marriage was fairly solid at this time, I still felt a twinge of dread. Fortunately, the whole thinking-before-speaking thing had pretty much taken root by then, so I agreed to the discussion. I then determined to pray for this particular exchange…and committed myself to silence until I could be trusted to speak only the truth in love.
The next evening, I watched Dave spread his paperwork out on the surface of our dining room table and, with the kids playing in the background, he began sharing his assessment of our current financial situation. Occasionally, he would look at me to be assured of my understanding of a certain issue or to ask my input on a particular point. For the most part, though, he did the talking. I just listened. And, the more I listened, the more he shared. Dave went on to share his financial goals of being debt-free and growing most of our own food. He talked about how much he would like us to take a month-long vacation with the kids to the West Coast, camping at national parks along the way and seeing the redwoods and the Pacific Ocean. He shared that he would like to eventually offer part of our home to missionaries on furlough and to maybe even some day visit the child we sponsor through a relief organization. I enjoyed listening to his goals and dreams, and I realized how many of them centered on Christ and on our family. Not one of them seemed self-centered to me.
I had been seeing Dave’s financial goals through the wrong set of lenses. For years, I had seen Dave’s perspective on money as a personal vendetta against me enjoying life’s little pleasures. With this new perspective, I realized that they were a protection for our family and a reflection of the priorities we claimed to share.
I’m ashamed of the time I lost due to my pride. I wasted a lot of years trying to get the upper hand in a battle that my heart had no business waging. I was like an exhausted child fighting against a loving parent who just announced that it was bedtime. I did not have the maturity and wisdom to see what was truly best for me.
After that particular discussion with Dave, God gave me a picture of my husband’s role in our marriage. I was standing in a thunderstorm with Dave standing over me. His arms were outspread with a blanket as he tried to keep the rain off of me. Standing over Dave in a similar stance was Jesus, keeping the rain off of both of us. When I moved to look out and see what I was missing, Dave couldn’t keep me covered; I got pelted with rain drops and blasted by wind. When I stayed under Dave’s leadership, I was doubly protected—by my husband and by Christ. If Dave messed up, Jesus was still there as my ultimate refuge. However, when I relaxed and trusted Dave in his leadership, he was able to keep me dry as an extension of God Almighty. It was a beautiful picture, and I still carry it in my heart.
Here’s the other thing: Dave is willing to take responsibility for our financial successes as well as our failures. This is the ultimate protection for me! Because of this, I am completely off the hook. If we go broke, it is totally not my fault. (Heeheehee!)
This article was originally written for and published in HER magazine, a product of The Courier-Times, New Castle, Indiana.