23 May My Money My Problems
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“It’s my money and I will do what I want.” I can’t help but think of a child writing the previous sentence. This is how I used to think going into my marriage until I realized how toxic this mindset was. How many of us enter into our marriage with this possessive thought? We think, “what’s mine is mine.” “I’ll have my own little bank account and live my own little life in the middle of sharing it with my spouse.” We go into marriage vowing to live a life as one, yet we still try to run an underground business of sorts. We spend what we want, when we want, and how we want because we have earned it. This is how I lived and I did it all in secret.
As a kid, I loved to spend money. Birthday and Christmas money went down the drain. Giving it in church offering or charity was out of the question. I didn’t live a life of luxury, so whenever I gained a little mullah, I had to get those things I wanted. Kids in my classes were getting the latest shoes and cleanest fades (those were haircuts all the cool kids got). I wanted that, too. Here is the thing. I just never got those things. I would spend it on toys that would end up lost, or snacks from the corner stores. My mom attempted to try and help me save, but that just never worked. Before she could intervene, that money was long gone. I never invested it and I never learned to use it as a tool. In fact, I would say that money began to control me. I was the tool. I was its slave. I would feel good spending money on really dumb things and then move on.
It did not get any better when I became a teen and young adult. I began to learn how to create revenue through my graphic design skills. People needed something designed and I would design it for them. Aside from my “9 to 5”, I earned money in spurts. A quick $50 here and there and I was out to the mall looking for something to buy. It didn’t matter what it was. As long as I had a bag of stuff I was happy. Forget church tithing, offering, bills, or any immediate financial needs. I would buy junk I didn’t need. I was creating greater habits that would hurt my family and I in the future. I never even thought to spend on Amy. I only cared about me. It’s my money…It’s my money.
Moving forward and it’s time to grow up, right? Ahhh, adulthood. Around this time I am getting married, buying a house and having kids. I even learn how to create a small graphic design business as an extra avenue of income. My wife and I decide to have a combined bank account, but I also open a PayPal account with its own debit card. I tried to create the illusion that I was cooperating and really moving on with this whole “union” thing. At this point in time, I feel I have a good handle on my finances and spending habits, but I was poorly mistaken. I would later find out that I was participating in something called “financial infidelity”. We’ll get to that in a bit.
See, part of the issue in my growing up is that I really never learned how to save and sow. My issue isn’t as dark as buying naughty things on the internet, gambling or buying high-priced items, but it is just as toxic. I was doing something that was harming my marriage and was destroying something that was far more valuable than fiat currency. I was destroying the peace in our home. Bills were late and we found ourselves financially stagnant. Even in our rough financial patches, I would still find a way to buy something and get that high. I would put my wants before the needs of my wife and kids. Even if the kids needed shoes, I would ignore it and get something for myself. Another issue was not tithing or giving to the church. I’ll never forget the day Amy asked if I was giving out of my PayPal account. And I was giving, however it was in spurts and far below the amount I should have been giving. I would even go and say that I was tithing 2% of my side earnings. How dare I… How dare I live in such disobedience to God! He has given us so much and I have become so selfish. He has been so faithful to my wife and I, yet I was robbing Him. My wife also has been so faithful, yet I was living in this type of infidelity. I was so focused on my own wants. I was so lazy and ignorant to the whole situation. God is graceful and merciful and I knew that I could bring this to Him and ask Him for the wisdom I need in this area. But my wife and I had a lot of work to do.
My wife is truly amazing. I mean, at the time she was extremely upset, but even in her disappointment she was willing to help me navigate this. I’ll forever thank her for putting up with my toxic habits that I carried into this relationship. She is so strong and someone I definitely want on my team. She had every right to leave me, but she didn’t. Instead she suggested we read a book. The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Love and Money Language. I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to do it. My delusions were still trying to get the best of me even in the midst of this storm, but I valued my relationship more than my pride. Money is the #1 cause for divorce and I would not allow money to claim another home. We began to move forward in this new healing process.
We also took a spending personality quiz. I learned that we all have at least 2 spending personalities. In taking the quiz, I learned that Amy likes to save and I like to spend (big surprise). We are absolute opposites in our money personalities. I learned a lot about myself and especially about Amy. Besides the fact that I had a spending issue, I also learned that I had a huge problem with communication. I was omitting a huge part of my life knowing fairly well that omission is technically lying. There was a lot of learning to do and it was at this point I realized I needed to reclaim my marriage.
I mentioned the term “financial infidelity”. If you are struggling with the same things that I was, I need you to remember this term. It needs to be so embedded in your mind and spirit that every time you think of spending in secret, giant red neon lights would flash in your mind and pull you away. This is what I see whenever I feel like spending without consulting my wife. I stop myself and I talk to her. Even if it’s getting a cup of coffee. I am not asking her permission. I am simply communicating with her so that we are on the same page. No surprises and it feels great. In all my earnings, I let her know and I immediately tithe without blinking. I go straight into my app and it pulls from my PayPal account. Super convenient and leaves no room for excuses.
Marriage is a very complicated and detailed thing. It’s a living, breathing being that requires lots of attention. Finances is just one thing that will make or break it. When it comes to money in marriage, you have to weigh your values. I mentioned before that paper money is a fiat currency. It holds value because society says it does. Money is not the issue. It is the love of money that poisons us. Although a great tool, money is not everything; and if you allow it, it will take hold of you and rob you of greater things. This almost happened to me, but I find so much more value in my relationship with God and my wife.
As I move forward and grow older, I pray for wisdom and take the rightful position as the priest in my home. The greatest treasure in my life, beside my wife and kids, is Christ being the center and the peace that comes with Him. I am so happy that this challenge did not break us. I am so thankful to God and my wife for walking with me through this. I am still learning and I am nowhere near where I should be, but I am so glad I am not where I was.
Are you struggling with financial infidelity? What are some of the habits that you are working or need to work on to help you and your relationships? Let us pray with you.