October 2, 2014

Before You Say “I Do”: Money & Marriage Exercise 4

Bride & Groom - Sunset Kiss

Money is a very controversial topic in many marriages. Most people lack both the knowledge and the communication skills to begin working through different opinions and expectations. You probably inherited a very limited skill set when it comes to dealing with and talking about money management. I find that wealthy, middle-class, and struggling families all share a reluctance to talk openly about how they handle money.

Developing trust in the area of money management is crucial. Each of us is so different from our partner that it often helps to begin this process by defining a shared set of values. These shared values can be discovered through very different experiences. For example, my wife’s family would go skiing in Aspen, Colorado. My family would go camping at Lake George in the Adirondacks. On one hand, these locations are very different. But on the other hand, we both highly value spending time in the great outdoors.

Many people turn to religion when defining these shared values. In our religious tradition, we read and meditate on the teachings preserved in the Christian Bible. Many do not realize that money and economics are a primary focus throughout the scriptures.

A great illustration of the emphasis on money and economics found in the Christian Bible comes from a Dutch group called the Western Bible Foundation. They created a tongue-in-cheek Western Bible that literally deletes any reference to managing money or addressing poverty. As you can see in their advertisements, much of the Bible has been eliminated. With a touch of irony, they proclaim, “This [Bible] can let you read with a rested heart to your children!”

Here are some key Bible passages about shaping money values that are worthy of further reflection:

Deuteronomy 14:22–29, Psalm 62:10, Proverbs 21:4–6, Proverbs 22:1–9, Proverbs 23:4–5 , Malachi 3:8–12, Matthew 6:19–21,25–34, Matthew 25:14–30, 2 Corinthians 9:6–11, and 1 Timothy 6:17–19.

Do any of these messages speak to you? Do you feel comfortable sharing any of them in the “comments” section provided? Insights directed to readers in a foreign agricultural economy can be cryptic to modern ears. However, many of us find that the ancient passages are still meaningful.

I find that all of these messages are best summarized in the Parable of the Talents. In this story, a wealthy man’s money is being managed by others while he is on a long trip. The money they are managing is not their own; they are merely stewards.

In the Christian tradition, stewardship recognizes that all we have belongs to God. The stuff we’ve accumulated—the car, the money in our accounts, and even our unique aptitudes—should be considered as items entrusted to us by God.

For a modern-day example, consider everything you have to be held in a trust account. Trust accounts hold property managed by a trustee for a period of time; afterward the balance is payable to the previously named beneficiary.

Topics of contentment, charitable giving, lending, and hard work all find greater perspective when embraced through the context of stewardship.

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About Matthew Illian

Matthew Illian is on the Investment Committee at Marotta Wealth Management, Inc., specializing in small business consulting and retirement plans. He loves spending time outdoors, the less pavement the better, with his wife and three energetic boys. Favorite trails: Forest Hill Park

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