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 it is a defender and answers everything . In fact, after the problem of worshipping idols, the questions most discussed in the Bible have to do with 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. Most couples therefore fight over money. Global studies indicate that the majority of the most serious marital problems are financial. Global studies also show that in 15 per cent of marriage, 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 attitude 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
Problems start even before couples get into marriage. Most parents do not teach their children how to handle money. Children therefore grow up with different and usually wrong attitudes and motives about money. Parental attitudes sharpen ours. Some are savers, others, spenders. Some see money as means to power, some adventure, others, self-worth. 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 partners don’t seem to trust each other. This ruins transparency and trust. Hostility becomes inevitable.
Most couples have wrong attitude to 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. Some therefore live lavishly and acquire lifestyles hard to sustain, and may get into debts which cause 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.
Talk all areas about money : This must include attitude towards savings, how much you earn and save. You must agree on who handles domestic bills and how to handle finances in event of 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 pooled system in which all incomes go 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, 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 avoid unplanned expenditure and live within your means. By planning and arranging upfront as 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. It is also important couples set aside money to support the church work of God and community development. 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. Store left-overs.
Buy when you have money. 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 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 to money and how you manage it but not how much you earn. Therefore take control of your money and never allow it to take control of your marriage.
Believe God wants you to prosper. Gain money honestly. Invest carefully and spend reasonably. As far as possible avoid debt. Seek contentment and share your wealth joyfully. Resolve your financial issues and keep improving on 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.