Devon Dick| One Flesh in Marriage Means Our Money
Recently at the Boulevard Baptist Church, I preached a sermon in which I claimed that the biblical concept of one flesh implies that each person in a marriage cannot speak about 'my money' but instead the couple should speak about 'our money'. I was encouraged by an adherent of the congregation, Dwight Walker, to share the sentiments in a column.
That statement about not being 'my money' but 'our money' did not go down well with some congregants. So much so that an ardent single Christian woman who had acquired some wealth came to me after the worship service and bemoaned having to share what she has with a new husband. She was afraid that he might not be trustworthy.
This fear of a new spouse sharing in what one owns has given rise to prenuptial agreements which outline the benefits or entitlements in case of a divorce. Even some persons who do not have great wealth do not want the partner to touch their money. This might sound more like a merger than a marriage.
Prenuptials are usually a sign that there is lack of trust between husband and wife. There is a fear that one person might be a gold-digger. It is to avoid being taken to the cleaners. For some, the argument is that since a partner did not help in acquiring the wealth, then the partner should not have access to half of the estate in the event of a divorce.
There is a saying that the love of money is the root of all evil. And even in marriage money is the root of most problems. Money problems have caused many troubles in marriages. Many couples do not believe in having joint bank accounts. The caution is always having an account for oneself just in case the marriage turns sour.
The Bible says that a man should leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife. The principle is that the husband should give priority to his new family and not be seen as having primary loyalty to parents at the expense of the wife. The married couple should be so close that they share each other's joys, hurts, pains, ambition, goals and body. The foremost focus of attention and responsibility is to the marriage and not even to the children.
The major problem in difficult marriages is not in-laws. It is more to do with finances. Only sexual infidelity can rival money troubles as a cause for marriage difficulties. Most times communication is poor and makes the money worries worse. Often, when there is disagreement over money then the courtship in marriage stops.
There are peculiar challenges when people marry at a later stage in life; perhaps a second marriage. There might be children from the first union. Children get nervous about the new spouse as to whether it will affect their financial inheritance. It can be a minefield to give assurances to children.
By saying one flesh implies 'our money' instead of 'my money' is not a statement that a spouse cannot have some independence in financial affairs. It is saying that there should be full disclosure about income, expenditure, debts and investments. There should be consultation and compromise on financial management in marriage.
Even within the 'our money' concept, one spouse might have an account independent of the other for expenditure on personal effects. There can also be division of responsibilities in financial affairs with each spouse having an obligation to ensuring that certain financial matters are taken care of. But there must be openness, full disclosure and a fulsome understanding.
In the ideal of a one flesh marriage, it should be one money, that is, 'our money'.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.