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Weddings - Finance

With all the excitement of an imminent marriage, the last thing that many couples think about as the big day approaches is money The church needs to address this vital issue not only through marriage preparation sessions, but also in its everyday teaching from the pulpit and in home groups.

The Day Itself - A big white wedding, hotel reception and overseas honeymoon can easily cost many £,000's these days. An enormous amount of money to spend for just one day! Given the heavy costs of buying your home these days, it may be sensible to opt for a much cheaper wedding -and put the money into something that lasts longer -like a deposit for your home. Having run up huge debts on the wedding day will not add to happiness once the marriage is underway.

The Longer Term - Surveys confirm what you already suspected: money problems are the major cause of stress in relationships. In fact an estimated 70 percent of marriage breakdown is finally caused by arguments over money. The CAB reports that debt problems (particularly with credit cards) have risen by 47% over the last 5 years So it is vital that every couple sit down together before their marriage and work out their financial priorities This sounds easy - but isn't! For one thing, money management is barely taught in schools and many people have no real idea of how to handle their money properly, and will probably Just follow their parents' example. Given that about one in five adults have some form of credit restriction because of previous bad debts, this may not be very helpful!

For some reason nature has decreed that people who count pennies often marry people who spend, spend spend. Frugality versus lavishness will drive both partners in the marriage crazy - unless it is sorted out early. Really' sorted out. Or resentments will simmer and grow and lead to one partner becoming secretive about 'their' finances. This lack of candour is a serious problem. It leads to secrecy, economy with the truth and eventual breakdown of trust. This is especially true when it comes to debt. The majority of people who find themselves getting into debt make up all sorts of reasons ('I don't want to worry her') why they don't tell their partners about the problems they are facing. Sadly, men are particularly bad at this.

God is well aware that money is a major cause of stress in life, and that is why there is so much practical sense taught about it in the Bible - five times more about money and possessions than about love! If couples follow the principles in it and keep talking to each other, it will save them a lot of heartache.

First things to do about money in your marriage

  • Pray together: It is essential that couples should pray about their financial situation, just as they would pray about other areas of life. In particular they need to acknowledge that it is in fact God's money, and that they have a joint duty to be responsible with it
  • Be totally open about your financial position. Remember that all money, possessions and debt incurred affects both parties. Bank accounts should be in joint names
  • Draw up a budget. Make it realistic. First, have a notebook and record EVERYTHING that is spent over a period of one month. These figures then need categorising and you need to look at them together. Do these figures reflect how you actually intended to spend your money? What is a waste? And are you living within your means?
  • Plan some financial goals together. Short-term ones could be to reduce debts, and long-term ones might include paying off the mortgage and giving more away to various charities.

Credit Action is a Christian money education charity that has a wide range of material available on all aspects of the biblical teaching on money For more information, please contact www.creditaction.org.uk, 0207 380 3390.

Credit Action works closely with The Consumer Credit Counseling Service. Their consumer credit helpline is : 0800 138 1111