Reducing financial problems in marriage
An Akan axiom ‘sika ye mogya’, to wit money is blood, shows that money is critical in all areas of life, especially in marriage, which is the most important human investment.
Money gives stability, security, positive self-esteem and power.
It helps cater for our children. It spills over for the good of society. Money is, therefore, a great source of authority and prestige. No wonder the Bible says money is a defender and answers everything.
In fact, after the problem of worshipping idols, the questions most discussed in the Bible were on money. There are also three times as many verses in the Bible addressing money than prayers.
Money is one thing that seems never to be enough. Couples, therefore, fight over money no matter how much they earn. Global studies indicate that the majority of the most serious marital problems are financial.
Global studies also show that in 15 per cent of marriages, couples fight over money several times in a month. In Ghana, money is the leading cause of all marital breakdowns.
Problems with money are not about excess or lack of it, because both poverty and riches have their unique challenges.
Wrong attitudes and improper management of money are the root causes of monetary problems in relationships. Money is, therefore, a symbol of how couples relate to each other and God.
Why couples fight over money
The problems start even before couples get into marriage. Most parents do not teach their children how to handle money.
Therefore, children grow up with different and usually wrong attitudes and motives about money. Parental attitudes shape ours. Some are savers, others, are spenders. Some see money as a means to power, some adventure, others, as self-worth. Besides, couples may develop parallel goals.
Many lovers keep secrets about their earnings. In Ghana, a significant proportion of lovers don’t know how much their lovers earn because their partners don’t seem to trust each other. This ruins transparency and trust. Hostility becomes inevitable.
Most couples have the wrong attitude towards money. Some get into marriage only to have their needs met by their partners. Some see marriage as an opportunity to seek property for themselves and their extended family.
Most couples in Ghana don’t plan their finances. They mix up wants and needs. Today, many people judge marriages by what couples have and don’t have. Therefore, some live lavishly and acquire lifestyles hard to sustain and may get into debt, which causes conflicts in marriage.
Reducing financial problems in marriage
Be financially independent before you marry: It is not healthy for your partner to meet all your needs. A lover who provides all your needs may be tempted to control you, especially in cases where a woman provides all the needs of a man.
Have detailed conversations on money: This must include an attitude towards savings and how much you earn and save. You must agree on who handles domestic bills and how to handle finances in the event of a crisis.
Both partners must contribute to the upkeep of the home, depending on their income: There are three common options in Ghana. The first is the pooled system in which all income goes into a single account.
The second is the household system in which partners contribute a proportion of their income into a joint account for home maintenance, and short and long expenses. The third is the independent system in which couples keep their incomes and undertake to handle different categories of expenditure in the home.
In Ghana, it is common for husbands to give “chop money” to their wives. Any of these options are workable, provided partners are honest and transparent about what they do.
Draw a budget: This is a written statement of expected income and expenditure. A budget directs and controls your spending. It helps you to avoid unplanned expenditures and live within your means. By planning and arranging upfront how to spend your money, there is little room for financial disputes as you stick to your budget.
It is recommended that couples make every effort to save 10 per cent of their income for their short and long-term plans. The bottom line is that couples must live within their income.
Adopt saving measures: Buy in bulk; because it is cheaper. Cook soup and stew to last a few days. Cook what is enough for the family and store leftovers.
Buy when you have money and avoid impulse buying. Is what you buy urgent, necessary or can it wait? Don’t buy anything because it is cheap. Nothing is free. Supplement your income with part-time work, back-yard gardening or trading.
Have a healthy attitude about money: Remember God is the owner and source of all your supplies and He wants you to prosper. Put God first and be willing to be obedient to Him. Gain money honestly. Spend reasonably and invest carefully. Seek contentment and share your wealth joyfully. If you give, God gives back abundantly.
Money is an essential friend or bad master, a source of security or anxiety, servant or master, love or hatred. Its effect on your marriage, however, depends on your attitude towards money and how you manage it, not how much you earn. Therefore, take control of your money and never allow it to take control of your marriage.
Believe that God wants you to prosper. As much as possible, avoid debt. Seek contentment and share your wealth joyfully. Resolve your financial issues and keep improving your financial knowledge.
See money as a servant to strengthen your marriage. A strong marriage will strengthen your finances. Let your money and marriage grow together to achieve true love and realistic life goals.