Finances and Relationships

Dave Jones November 22, 2008 2 Corinthians 5:9

Introduction:

This week we will wrap our series on Stewardship.  I trust you have benefitted from the Dave Ramsey videos.  I want to thank Mike Sandry for all his work in putting together the PowerPoint and videos. 

This series is especially relevant with what is happening on Wall Street.  I also think it is more relevant when you think about the impact that finances has on marriages. Statistics tell us that many marriages break up over problems with finances.  Many times the conflict is below the surface because neither person wants to acknowledge or discuss the problem.

They are like this couple in the cartoon.

Do you think there is no problem here?  They may both be in agreement now, but watch out when the bills hit.  Suddenly, it’s the other persons fault that the credit card bills are so high.

This week we are going to pull from several sources as we discuss the Stewardship of Finances and relationships.

  1. Sources of Conflict

INPUT:  When it comes to finances, what are some things that couples fight about?

  • Saver vs. Spender
  • How to spend money
  • Christmas gifts
  • Vacations
  • Loaning/Giving money to family
  • Hiding purchases from each other
  • Budgeting
  • Planning for the future

I’m sure there are others but this is a good start.

How you manage your money can affect your personal relationships, especially those with your closest family members. For example, one spouse may be more of a “free spirit”, and not enjoy budgeting, or looking at the details of a budget. The other person might be a “nerd”, and love looking at the numbers, how they fit together, and have a knack for doing the budget. Within the relationship you need to find a way to work together for your common good.

  1. Who is Responsible for the Money? – Both of you!

Because of the inherent differences in men and women, nerds and free spirits, we need to lay the groundwork for working together on our finances. Dave Ramsey talks about the need for family “budget committee meetings” where both partners in the relationship talk about the monthly budget, and have a stake in it. It isn’t acceptable for one partner to be solely responsible for the money, it is something that both partners need to be involved in, and have a stake in.

In these budget committee meetings there are a few ground rules, but basically it boils down to this:

  1. Nerd does the budget beforehand and brings it to the meeting.
  2. Nerd gives budget to the free spirit for feedback - and shuts up.
  3. Free spirit must make some changes to the budget, and gives intelligent feedback.
  4. Free spirit must not just say, “Whatever you want to do, honey”.

These meetings allow both partners to have a say, and means that you’ll be more invested in your shared financial venture.

This is one way to help avoid money conflicts in marriage.  Another is to ….

  1. Who’s problem is it? – Both of yours!

Myth:My spouse and I shouldn't talk about money because it only leads to fights.
Truth:You can't have a great relationship until you can communicate and agree about money.

Larry Burkett, noted financial author, says, "Money is either the best or the worst area of communication in our marriages." After years as a financial counselor and working with marriage counselors, I know that money and money fights are the #1 cause of divorce, not to mention the thing we fight about the most.

So if you are married and have money fights, you are normal. But if this is a real problem area for you, there is also an opportunity to improve your relationship and maybe even reach agreement with your spouse. I'm not talking about agreement brought on by surrender, but rather by each person getting a vote, understanding the other's view, and finding common ground.

But what happens when a husband and wife cannot come together like this?

Consider the following scenarios:

A wife makes the following statement:

"I can't figure out where all the money is going, and he refuses to tell me or keep records to show me where the spending is going. Why can't he just tell me?"
Or how about this statement:

"How do I tell my husband that I currently have over $15,000 on my credit card?"

These are real life issues and many of us say, "That could never happen to me," but this addictive behavior is occurring regularly. Let's explore some basic baby steps to recovery:

  1. Prepare to tell the whole truth. This is a positive step in taking responsibility for your actions. It's half the battle.
  2. Talk honestly. Set a time to sit down with your spouse asking him/her not to respond until you have completed making your confession. Then tell him/her, as honestly as you can, exactly what has happened. This time should include asking for forgiveness. Be prepared prayerfully for any potential response because this may be quite a shock to your spouse. Ensure the atmosphere is peaceful and non-threatening. (If you are the unsuspecting spouse, respond with compassion and forgiveness.)
  3. Listen attentively. What is your spouse thinking? Listen without responding, even if there is a time of silence.
  4. Work together. Ask your spouse to help you work out a plan to attack the debt.
  5. Be accountable. Establish a time (weekly at first) to stay accountable with each other to curb any relapse of your behavior. If there is, it may be time to see a counselor for some additional guidance.
  6. Continue to communicate. When the crisis is over and wounds have healed, continue to seek your spouse's counsel. It may seem obvious, but couples too often make big financial decisions without talking first. It's important to agree about major purchases, even if they're in your budget.

Once you begin talking candidly about the spending and motivating behavior, you will begin to build unity in your marriage and add peace and trust to your relationship.

  1. Biblical Principles for Resolving Conflict.

OK. We have looked at sources of financial conflict and a couple of practical ways to address this area of conflict.  I think it would be a good time to review some basic Biblical principles regarding the general area of conflict.

  1. Look at your part of the problem(s) first.  Read Matthew 7:1-5

Matthew 7:1-5:  "Do not judge lest you be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”

INPUT:  How will looking at your part of the problem help the other person with whom you are trying to resolve the conflict?

INPUT: What are some possible conclusions a person may draw when he/she looks at his/her part of the problem first?

  1. Be sure your goal in the conflict is the same as your goal of life.

2 Corinthians 5:9:  “Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.”

How does Romans 8:28-29 help us define that goal more specifically?

Romans 8:28-29:  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.”

INPUT: List things a person might say, do, or think during a conflict that would be inconsistent with the goal of pleasing God by being like Jesus Christ.

  1. Place great value on restoring a relationship when conflicts occur.

Galatians 6:1  “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

“If we walked by the Spirit, we would love one another more, and if we loved one another more, we would bear one another’s burdens, and if we bore one another’s burdens, we would not shrink from seeking to restore a brother who has fallen into sin.  Further, if we obeyed this apostolic instruction as we should, much unkind gossip would be avoided, more serious backsliding prevented, the good of the Church advanced, and the name of Christ glorified.”

John Stott, as quoted by James Montgomery Boice, Galatians

“This would restore such an one to his previous communion with the Lord Jesus, which communion had been interrupted by the entrance of sin into the life.  Thus, the Christian brother would be repaired and again fitted out in his Christian life in two respects; first, he would be restored to his former method of living his life, namely, in dependence upon the Spirit, and second, he would be restored to his fellowship with the Lord Jesus.”

Kenneth Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, Galatians In the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1972).

The word “restore” was used to describe the process of mending a broken net or setting a broken bone.  Paul was simply saying that seeking to solve conflicts can actually STRENGTHEN a relationship.

INPUT: What are some ways that restoring a relationship can actually make a relationship better than it was before the conflict occurred?

  1. Avoiding Wrong Extremes

A.  “Giving in” to the person without seeking to resolve the conflict.

INPUT: How would the following verses help motivate us to avoid the extreme of simply “giving in” when problems arise?

2 Corinthians 5:10:  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Proverbs 27:6:  “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

  1.  “Ignoring”the problem.

Pretending a problem doesn’t exist or responding in a way that fails to focus on a Biblical solution.

The way of attempting to solve problems goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3.  Adam and Eve responded in this manner when they sinned against God.

  1. Trying to be the “Winner” of the conflict.

A person who wants to “win” the argument (at all costs) rather than reach a Biblical solution.

What examples can you think of where a person was more interested in “winning” the argument than he/she was interested in Biblical truth?  (i.e. classes of people or Biblical examples).

What does the Word of God have to say about a person who thinks he must be “right” or that others have to see the problem “my way”?

Proverbs 16:18:  “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”

Proverbs 18:12:  “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.”

The following chart provides additional insight to the issue of resolving conflict.  It shows that our reactions to the conflict can be based on our view of the relationship and the risk involved in finding a solution.

VI.  Achieving the Right Balance

A.  Ask:  Should I let love cover this?

Proverbs 10:12:  “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.”

1 Peter 4:8:  “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”

Love covering a problem differs from “ignoring” a problem.  A person cannot let love cover when any of the following criteria are true:

Is this “offense” a sinful habit that is regularly hindering his/her growth?

Is this “offense” public knowledge that would harm the person’s testimony for Christ?

Is this “offense” a violation of the law?

Is this “offense” a clear violation of Biblical principle?

B.  Listencarefully and quietly to the other person’s position.

Proverbs 18:13:  “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.”

Develop and use “defusing” statements.

-  Consider the following list and decide which one would be most helpful for you:

  1. I really appreciate your concern about this.
  2. Thank you for being interested in this problem.
  3. I am glad you are concerned about this.
  4. Am I hearing you correctly?
  5. Am I hearing you right?  Is this what you are saying?
  6. Would you repeat that please?
  7. Could you repeat that in a different way?
  8. I see this is important to you; therefore, it is to me.
  9. Let me think about that for a minute.
  10. Show genuine concern about mate's feelings!
  11. Thank you for taking time to share this with me.
  12. Do you have any suggestions as to what I could do to improve in this area?  (Show appreciation!)
  13. Did I hear you say it upsets you when I...?  (Have a thankful spirit!)  Thank you for sharing this with me.
  14. Are you saying you want me to discuss issues of this kind with you before I make a decision?  (Be thankful!)
  15. I am interested in what you are saying, but I'm not clear about what you mean. Could you say it another way?
  16. Let me see if I am hearing you correctly.
  17. How could I do that differently?
  18. What, exactly, is it you see that I am doing; or doing wrong?
  19. I was not clearly seeing that.
  20. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
  21. I am glad you pointed that out to me.
  22. When did that happen?  I wasn't alert to that.  (Be careful about the use of this statement. Make sure it is true!)
  23. I see that is important to you so I'll make it a point to be more alert to it.

Brainstorm some additional statements that could be used in solving conflicts.

 C.  State in clear and concise terms what the actual problem is.

Proverbs 10:19”  “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.

D.  Rejoice that you don’t have to solve this problem alone.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:  “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.  But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.  Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

How can God use another person to help you be more like Jesus Christ?

E.  Brainstorm truths from the Scripture that will help you to solve the problem.

Psalm 119:162:  “I rejoice at Thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.”

Psalm 119:16:  “I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word.”

Psalm 119:24:  “Thy testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors.”

What is the relationship between regularly attending ABF and church, along with personal Bible study, and a person’s ability to brainstorm truths about solving problems.

F.  Pray together and ask for God’s help.

James 1:5:  “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

James 5:16:  “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

G.  Brainstorm as many acceptable solutions to the problem as possible.

H.  Choose an acceptable solution while giving deference to the other person.

Philippians 2:3-4:  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

I.  If you still cannot get the problem solved, seek counsel from others.

Proverbs 11:14:  “Where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Dave Jones

Dave works for human resources at Purdue University.  Dave and his wife, Becky, joined Faith in 1986.  He co-teaches the Ambassadors ABF as well as several FCI classes.