I’ve been planning this post to come out today for a couple of weeks. Then, lo and behold, Grayson at Debt Roundup wrote a post on Monday entitled “Love and Money – An Internal Debate.” So I used his post as a springboard for what I was going to talk about anyway – how two shall become one in marriage.
In it, he propositioned that he would NOT pay for his wife’s debt under most normal circumstances wherein people incur debt (car loans, student loans, credit card loans, etc.). His main reasoning for this stance was so that a lesson could be learned and responsibility taught to the spouse who had been reckless in running up debt. After all, marriage is about making each other better people.
Grayson and his wife sound like they are completely on the same page in regards to how they live out their financial life. They have set themselves up for success by communicating their values and beliefs to one another and then agreeing to move forward together based on what they believe. By all accounts, that’s a winning formula!
The great thing though about personal finance is that it’s personal.
There are some basic principles that lead to financial success for everyone, but those principles play out in different ways in all of our lives. We all have our own value system that determines how we move through life, make decisions and relate to those around us. What works for Grayson may not work exactly the same way for me, and what works for me may not work exactly the same way for you. And that’s OK as long as what you are doing IS actually working for you.
With all that being said, I could not ignore my wife’s debt and make her pay that on her own. I could list a bunch of reasons why but those would seem hollow compared to the much bigger issue. For me, it simply boils down to one spiritual issue: I believe God meant for a man and woman to come together and be one complete unit – in all aspects of life together. I’ll expand on that a bit and then give the best example from the Bible of a couple that lived this admonition out.
“The Two Shall Become One Flesh”
You probably have heard this phrase uttered as part of a marriage ceremony – “the two shall become one flesh.” It does actually appear in the Bible in four places:
In Genesis 2:24 – “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
In Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:8 – Gen. 2:24 restated by Jesus
In Ephesians 5:31 – Gen. 2:24 restated by the apostle Paul
The essence of the message is that a man and woman leave their biological parents and form a new family unit that is characterized by complete oneness in all things physical, spiritual, and emotional.
Choosing not to tackle every aspect of our marriage with joint effort would not have been productive for our relationship. It would have always seemed like there was this one thing out there that we were not working on together. That would have created more tension than either of us would have liked.
A Model of a “One Flesh” Marriage
One of my favorite couples in the entire Bible that demonstrates this principle is the husband and wife team of Priscilla and Aquila. It wouldn’t surprise me if you were not familiar with them. They have no book named after them and they are only mentioned in passing comments (they get little one-liners) in the New Testament. But we can derive a lot about their relationship and their values from those short comments. Here is what we know about them:
Priscilla and Aquila were entrepreneurs together in the tent making business. They shared their business with the apostle Paul (for at least 18 months) so that he would be able to support himself on the mission field. (Acts 18:2-3)
They gave of their time together by traveling with Paul and then stayed together where they were needed to lead a local church in Ephesus. (Acts 18:18-19)
Being more seasoned in their faith, they chose to teach and mentor a new convert (Apollos), who had recently begun to be a bold speaker in the synagogue. (Acts 18:26)
They chose to meet danger together and risked their lives to protect the life of Paul. (Romans 16:3-4)
They encouraged others by sending along warm wishes in Paul’s letters. They also chose to allow a group of Christ followers to meet in their home. (I Corinthians 16:19)
Priscilla and Aquila were a team. They embodied a “two shall become one flesh” marriage. Their names are never mentioned separate from one another in the Bible. They combined their talents to maximize the benefits of their profession and the ministry. They shared in the joys and risks of life. Which is why for me they are a great example of oneness in marriage.
Can you be “one” in marriage if you choose to have separate financial lives? I believe so but maybe only to a point. I really can’t speak with any authority on that question because that is not how my wife and I have chosen to live. I can only tell you there has been nothing that has moved our marriage relationship forward more than sharing in and working together on our financial goals and dreams.
That’s why I believe the personal finance journey is one best completely shared together.
Questions: Do you believe in the adage “two shall become one flesh” in all matters – even financial? Are your finances separate or combined? How has shared financial goals moved your marriage forward?