Money Talks- till “death” do us part, not till “debt” do us part


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By Pastor Nomthi Odukoya

Money affects our actions on a daily basis. Everyday decisions, for example: should I take a bus or a cab, should I eat out or at home, can I afford this new dress – and so on. These choices are all affected by money. .

Since money has such an effect on our daily lives, one would expect it to be an important topic of discussion during courtship. Too much concern about your intended spouse’s financial wellbeing might make you look materialistic. The topic of money is almost treated as a taboo in relationships. Finance is rarely discussed before marriage; people assume that they know their partner’s financial mind-set and capacity. However, to ignore finance is to ignore the number one cause of broken marriages. According to Larry Burkett “Money is the #1 cause of divorce, not to mention the major cause of all marital fights.” This is heightened as opposite personalities tend to attract; so a spendthrift could in all probability end up dating or married to a penny-pincher.

I’m not saying that you should bring up the issue of money in the early stages of a new relationship, or with someone you are casually dating or have no future with; this might well scare the person off, but one shouldn’t be afraid to broach the subject.

Gender plays a major role in financial decisions. Men are known to take more risks and not save for emergencies, while women see money as a measure of security, and gravitate towards rainy-day funds. These attributes are not cast in stone, as women are increasingly taking on risks.

I remember the story of a girl who wanted to break-up with her fiancé because he bought her a Bible on her birthday.

“I can’t take it anymore,” she exclaimed.

“Don’t you like the Bible?” she was asked.

“It’s not that,” she replied. “He is just always stingy. He can afford to buy me something expensive but he won’t because he thinks it is being wasteful.”

Obviously, their views about spending differ. Their differences, if understood and harnessed, could be complementary and provide a safety net against extremes. A famous cleric and counsellor said, “The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.” The critical issue is to walk hand in hand, appreciating your differences. Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” This togetherness requires that certain questions regarding finance be discussed before you say ‘I do’.

What is his attitude concerning savings?
What is his attitude towards loans and repayment?
When you eat out, does he check the bill before paying?
Will you be splitting bills?
Should you have a joint account?
What financial decisions can be made independently and what decisions should be made jointly?
What is his attitude to you earning more than him?
Please understand that I am not in any way advocating marrying for money, but a sense of economic responsibility is required from whomever you decide to marry. Don’t say, “I don’t care about money” and then secretly harbour resentment against your spouse for not providing the lifestyle you expected. Remember it’s until “death” do us part, not until “debt” do us part. Can you live with his financial decisions?

Don’t assume that because you and your partner don’t think alike, you cannot get married. Opposite viewpoints can provide tremendous balance and strength to a relationship. However, understanding is needed to make it work.

Don’t ever think you can change anyone either; they formed their habits long before they met you and are unlikely to change because of you.

Courtship is the time to get to know your partner. Make sure you understand his/her opinion on financial matters and put your opinions across too. Then agree on how you would structure your finances as a couple if you were to get married.


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