Wifey Wednesday: Don’t Be in the Dark About Your Family’s Finances

Christian Marriage Advice

If tonight tragedy were to strike, and your husband were to be in a car accident, would you know where to find your insurance information? If a fire struck, would you know where your house content insurance policy is? Do you even know if you have one?

Or, when you go and take money out of the ATM, do you know how much is available? Are you short on cash, or is it okay to treat the kids to an ice cream while you’re out?

Too many women don’t know the answers to those questions.

My friend Holly tells her story:

My husband and I went through bankruptcy in March 2009, due to so many factors, like job loss, housing market crash, the economy and our own foolish choices. During that time, my husband took over all things financial to shield and cover me from the stress of it all. It was a good thing for a time. When we began to end our three years of bankruptcy, I (a business major) was ready to take the bills over again. For a whole year I asked him to hand them back over, and even had my prayer group praying, but he delayed.

Little did I know that he was doing his best, but was still very behind. Truly, he was shielding his bride still from the strain of what we owed and the discouragement of not having enough to pay it all. One day, a very timely day, we received notice of foreclosure unless we paid by a certain time. I was completely surprised! My husband said he was so sorry (and truly, he was). My choice then was to get back to back with him, as a team. We now are paying back extra on our mortgage with a plan that is hard-pressed, but do-able. AND we are doing the bills together every week. There’s a reason why two are better than one. If one falls down, the other can help him (or her) get back up again.

(you can read more of her story here).

Don't Be in the Dark about Your Family's Finances

A few weeks ago I posted a Reader Question which asked: Help! My Husband Doesn’t seem to care about the finances. Many couples have a financial mismatch. One person wants to know where the money is going, and the other prefers to have his or her head in the sand, believing that “everything will work out fine in the end”.

That is extremely irresponsible. And if your husband tells you that he has everything under control, but you have no idea how to locate anything financial, and you have no idea about your net worth, that is extremely irresponsible, too.

You are a team.

It’s fine if one person does the finances and pays the bills and figures out how much money you have. But the other person still needs to know what is going on. Saying, “well, he’s the head of the family, and he says he has it all under control, so I need to trust him” is just wrong. Let’s look at why:

1. Scenario A: He’s Being Perfectly Responsible with the Money, but Something Happens to Him

He’s paying the bills. He’s socking money away for retirement. He has good investments. All the insurance premiums are paid. And one day something happens to him.

Those life insurance policies don’t pay automatically. You have to claim them. You don’t have access to bank accounts you don’t know about. You can’t take money out of a bank account you’re not named on. You can’t pay off credit cards you don’t know about. If he’s responsible, but you don’t know where anything is or what you have, you could still end up in a huge mess. And if you’re grieving, do you really want to worry about all of that financial stuff, too?

I’ve even known couples where she didn’t have a bank card or a credit card; he gave her a cash “allowance” every week, and it worked fine. But then one day he ends up in the hospital and she has no access to any of their money. This isn’t responsible. It isn’t safe. And it’s treating her like a child, not like a spouse. Both spouses must have access to everything.

2. Scenario B: He’s Isn’t Being Responsible, But He Isn’t Cluing You In

Maybe he doesn’t understand how debt works. Maybe he’s embarrassed that his income isn’t covering your expenses. Maybe he just finds it stressful, and he’d prefer not to think about. So he’s letting some bills go unpaid.

And then one day he comes to you sheepishly and says he needs you to come down to the bank and refinance your mortgage together. They need your signature, and he’s gone so far into debt that he needs to take out a second mortgage. Or something happens to your house and only then do you find out you didn’t have contents insurance. (You really need both house insurance AND contents insurance. Don’t forget the latter, even if you rent. Get a  contents insurance quote here).

Of course other scenarios also play out: maybe you’re doing the finances and he doesn’t want to hear about it. Maybe he’s spending too much but he doesn’t want to stop. These things can drastically impact your marital harmony and your future.

So let me list a strategy to make dealing with finances as a team easier.

1. Whoever does the finances also prepares a “status update”

Whoever pays the bills emails or prints out a status update twice a month of how much is in the bank, how much you owe, and how much you have. It doesn’t have to be elaborate–just a snapshot so that you both know how tight money is–or isn’t.

As a commenter pointed out in that finances reader question, if the only time you ever talk about money is when there isn’t any and when you’re stressed, then it becomes difficult to talk about. It’s seen as an attack on his ability to provide. But if you consistently update each other every two weeks, then it’s not an attack. It’s just a “keeping you in the loop” so we can plan together and act as a team. That’s good!

2. Take Care of Must Haves first

Some things are negotiables. You don’t need satellite TV. You don’t need your kids in soccer. You don’t need to eat out, to hire a maid, or to buy new clothes.

But there are some things that are NOT negotiable. Every family needs them so that if something happens you’re prepared. Here are what I consider non-negotiables:

1. House Contents Insurance and House Insurance

We often think of house insurance, but do you have the contents insured? If you don’t have proper coverage, look up home insurance quotes. And make sure your home insurance/business insurance policy offers liability insurance, too. It is too risky not to have this kind of coverage.

2. Disability Insurance and Life Insurance

We all know life insurance is important, especially if you have one main breadwinner and one person who stays at home. If someone dies, you want to be able to continue to care for your family, not suddenly have to find a well-paying job at the same time as you’re grieving.

But did you know that disability insurance is even more important? It’s far more likely that a bread winner will be disabled for a time than actually die. And disabilities are also expensive. Please, don’t scrimp on this!

3. Health Insurance

Depending on what country you’re in, you need this. Make room in your budget, even if it’s tight.

4. Wills

If you have children, and you don’t have a will, and something happens to you, do you really want your friends and family members going to court over who gets the kids? What if you were hoping that your sister would raise them, but your husband’s mother really wants them? You need a will, or else the state will decide who raises your kids, not you.

5. Emergency Fund

Every family needs an emergency fund of about 3 months’ income to tide you over if something happens–job loss, injury, massive unexpected expense (need a new roof, new furnace, new car).

3. Budget Together

Once you have the must-haves taken care of, decide together where the rest of your money will go, and how you will pay off debt. If he’s the one doing the finances, that doesn’t let you off the hook in terms of budgeting. You need to do your share, too, and that includes sticking to what you’ve agreed is the right course of action. But it also means that you must have input into what that budget is. I have known so many women, like Holly, who thought their financial situation was fine, so they bought things they never would have purchased had they known how far into debt they are. So both of you go over this and decide together where your money will go and what your priorities will be.

It gets me so frustrated when I hear women talk about finances as if it’s a submission issue; I just need to get out of the way and let him pay the bills because he’s the man, and if he fails to pay the electricity bill for a few months and the lights get turned off, I still won’t say anything because I need to submit.

No, ladies, you’re a team! And maybe you’re the one who is more gifted at finances than he is! What you need to do is to have a conversation about this and talk about how you can be a team. Who is best equipped to handle the finances? Who wants to handle them? And then what procedures can we put in place to make sure that the spouse who ISN’T doing the finances still knows where the insurance statements are, where the wills are, where the bank statements are, and what we owe.

This is a fundamental part of marriage.

Sometimes we think of marriage too much in hierarchical terms and not enough in terms of a team. And finances are where you must be a team, or else you too easily could be working at cross-purposes and putting each other at risk.

If you’re really struggling with debt, or you just want to get a handle on how to budget and how to save, my favourite resources are:

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (only $13.49, and such a great resource)
Dave Ramsey’s Starter Kit: Includes Total Money Makeover, some DVDs, and starter Envelope system

And remember that one way to save money is to make sure you’re not paying too much for those non-negotiables! Buy software to prepare your own will. Shop around for a buildings insurance quote or health insurance quote.

But please, ladies, whatever you do, be a team. Don’t stay in the dark. Yes, finances can be scary. Yes, insurance can be complicated. But this is something you can’t afford to ignore. Talk about it, and make a plan to deal with it. Two are always better than one.

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Link up the URL of a marriage post in the linky below. And be sure to copy the code for the Wifey Wednesday button and link back to this page, so that other people can see the great marriage resources, too!

I was partially compensated for this post, but the thoughts are entirely my own.


  1. Sheila, thanks for this.

    My husband and I moved countries one and half years ago. In my home country, I never had to think about some these things – procedures and processes are different, simpler in a sense. In the US, things are completely different and we’ve had to re-think the way we do our finances. We got ways to go still, but we are working on it.

    Thanks for this reminder today!
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…Great Couples Intentionally Pursue Each OtherMy Profile

  2. We’ve been kind of the opposite in where he has always refused to have anything to do with the finances, refused to pay the bills, refused to even talk about it, so he would consistently go over budget with his spending, and would get angry if I tried to talk to him about a budget and about what we had in the bank. It has always been so stressful and eventually started making me angry too because you absolutely cannot have a budget with two people if one person refuses to have anything to do with it. I’ve been trying to get him to take more financial responsibility, and I’ve separated my bills from his so that I know they’ll get paid and he won’t spend the money that goes towards them. The bills that he pays that are also mine, I take out the money immediately so it doesn’t disappear. It’s very stressful,as I said. We’ll see how him taking more financial responsibility works out. I still wound up paying all of the bills this month so far, because he had the money for them and I gave him daily reminders to pay them, but he kept ignoring me and kept not paying them until there were late fees out the wadzoo, so I finally paid them myself. And then we were much shorter on money than we would have been. He claims to want to make his credit better but seems to make an effort to make it worse.

    Sorry about complaining. It’s just….argh. I can’t stand it. It’s driving me up a wall.
    Jenny recently posted…maybe an apartment? and missing him desperately.My Profile

  3. I love Dave Ramsey’s advice! It has helped many people on the path to debt freedom which I think is SO important.
    Lori recently posted…Oprah Winfrey Vs. Michelle DuggarMy Profile

  4. My husband’s strength is in numbers. (he’ll remember your birthdate before he’ll remember your name) Numbers are not my strength – I’d even go so far as to say that it’s a weakness in my abilities. (We’re all better at some things than others.)

    This being the case, it’s been a natural progression for Robert to take the lead on our finances, but I know it’s also my responsibility to be fully aware of what’s going on. About every other month we sit down and have a long conversation on what’s happening in our business/personal finances, This is in addition to the “in-passing” comments and statements. This has worked best for our marriage, so that Robert feels both supported and yet in control – and I understand his thinking behind financial decisions and can also express my concerns and opinions. We’re a team – but he’s team-lead on this area of our life.

    Thanks for this post, Sheila. It’s so important… when our son and daughter-in-love said they’d like to get married, we told them we had only two requirements: take the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course, and a pre-marital course. This started them off well – mostly because it gave them a shared “vocabulary” to talk about their relationship & finances.
    Lori Ferguson recently posted…Hope & OptimismMy Profile

    • Lori, we’re in a very similar boat. I actually used to handle the finances, then decided I just couldn’t anymore. It was far too stressful and I couldn’t seem to get anywhere with issues that would come up. When my husband would take the reigns with financial difficulties, he’d soar. So I handed over the responsibilities completely to him, and he’s grown SO much out of it. He constantly says it makes him feel so good about himself that I trust him with our financial well being.

      With that being said, we do talk about it every now and then, but we’ve never sat down to intentionally talk over just our finances. Reading this article has given me great insight, as has your comment. I want to be able to leave him in control of it, because we both do better that way, but also be responsible in helping to keep up with it all.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Carrie recently posted…A Story, A Question and an AnswerMy Profile

  5. I just wanted to add that there are TONS of great personal finance blogs out there, and regardless of your situation there’s probably someone very much like you who is writing one.
    Sara recently posted…American Austerity … and meMy Profile

  6. I was the wife with my head in the sand for the first several years of my marriage. Not a good place to be!!! We were overdrawn and in debt. My husband thought he was shielding me from the stress of it, protecting me from the burden, but it wasn’t working. He was so discouraged and stressed out, it was making things worse. I had started trying to help with the finances but he was still trying to do it all himself. When I asked him why one night, he said, with slumped shoulders, “It’s my burden to bear!” to which I replied emphatically “I am your WIFE! I am supposed to share your burdens! Let me share it!”

    Things have been better since then. We saw the financial stewardship pastor at our church and she helped us streamline our finances. I’m very involved in our money now and things have stayed simple. Which is awesome. We’re not going into the red every month. We have not used a credit card or added to our debt in almost a year. We are a TEAM. It’s not about his role or my role – it’s about working toward a common goal together and using our giftings.
    Melissa recently posted…Random Stuff Lately…My Profile

  7. Heather P says:

    Thanks for the insight! Finances seem to be a bone of contention in our home that is never ending.

  8. I do think it’s important to underscore that #1 is a very valid reason for both spouses to be up to date on finances. While I’m sure most comments will run to issues with debt or budgets, that’s not the problem with all families.

    We’re in very good financial shape; we have good jobs, work hard, and are very blessed by God. I handle the finances (my wife doesn’t have to worry about them), but I do try to keep her up to date on things. I also want to make sure that if (God forbid) something happens to me she can pick up and run with them without much trouble. I do need to do better at getting her plugged in… both in making sure she has access to the Quicken files and to our online banking sites. Thanks for the reminder on that count.

    One word about Dave Ramsey- while his advice is great at keeping people out of debt and helping people in serious financial straits, I do not think his advice is the first and last word in Christian finance management. All too often I see Christians acting as though his financial planning is ordained by God. That is not the case. He has many good things to say and sometimes they may be exactly what people need, but I’d be cautious to not make it sound like everyone must follow his advice. There were people managing to keep things properly managed before he came along. If people were having trouble keeping things balanced I’d refer them to his works, but by no means are his methods the only answer.

  9. Great thoughts, Sheila. In our household, I am the one who primarily handles our finances because it interests me and I like to do it. We do talk about it occasionally though. Thankfully, we have been very blessed and do not have stressful issues as of yet. I do sometimes worry about your point #1. Because we both have personal Gmail accounts, I have set up a spreadsheet in Google docs which I share with him that I have listed important information such as our ss numbers, all banking account numbers, all bill account numbers, all insurance policy numbers and any other pertinent information along with all the websites, online logins, and how each bill gets paid each month if applicable (whether its auto drafted, paid manually through online bill pay, etc.). If there are any changes, I can simply change it on the spreadsheet and he has the new information as well.

    I also have an account on mint.com which is a wonderful tool. I can log on to this and see every banking account, credit card account, loan, budget, transaction etc that we have all in one spot. It really helps monitor spending and see where every single dollar goes. This login information is also something shared in the Google docs spreadsheet. So, while my husband does not take an active roll in handling our finances he has access to everything. This makes me feel much better knowing that if something were to ever happen to me, he would have all the information he needs.

    I will agree with Phil too, Dave Ramsey’s methods and plans can be beneficial to some but not all. We have not taken any of Dave Ramsey’s courses, but have heard some things about it. We both believe some of his methods we have heard about would not personally work for us very well.

    But your bottom line point that we, as husband and wife, are a team in handling household finances is a very true and crucial one and I hope that your readers who struggle with this will take it to heart and work on it together.

    • Thanks so much for that, and for the recommendation of some online tools! I totally agree: you don’t have to both know all the intricacies all the time. But you must both have access. It pains me when one spouse doesn’t.

  10. Growing up I always saw my dad as in charge of finances (although I knew that my mom also helped and was aware) when I got married I was to be in charge of our finances as my husband didn’t take charge in that area and often didn’t think long term. Anyway, I found it really difficult adjusting and thinking that I was in the minority as a wife in charge of finances, until my (female and also non-Christian) boss told me other wise – she opened my eyes to the fact that things are a lot more 50/50 with women being in charge financially and even in her circles it was the majority of women she knew where in charge of the financial aspect of their relationships. My point: it’s not nearly always the man in charge of money, don’t be afraid but rather be encouraged if you are women in charge of finances as you are not a ‘minority’, and like mentioned – regardless of who’s ‘in charge’ keep lines of communication open and work together in a way best suited to you :)

  11. Nina Carty says:

    I handle the budget simply because I am better at it. I balance it every other week and pay the bills (we get paid bi-weekly so this works well). I give him a report, i.e. this bill was more than we budgeted, this was less and so on.
    We took Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey) about 4 years ago. We discovered that having the “budget meeting” actually helped our communication in other areas. If you can talk about money and how you want to spend it differently and have different priorities, it becomes much easier to talk about other things.
    Really important post, Sheila. Thanks.

  12. I have an ebook that some of you might be interested in. It’s called Financial Freedom on a Fixed Income: 7 Steps to Get You Started. It’s free to all of my newsletter subscriber. Anyway, just wanted to let you all know in case someone was interested. You can sign up for my email newsletters here: http://www.lindsey-bell.com
    Lindsey Bell recently posted…Before You Post on Facebook…Ask Yourself ThisMy Profile

  13. Stephanie says:

    I have always handled the finances in our marriage, not only because I like to, but mainly because my husband is not originally from America so when we got married he asked me to take care of things since I worked at a bank at that time, grew up here, and knew how everything worked. We were still in the immigration paperwork process during the beginning of our marriage, so it just made sense for me to handle things. I still handle things and I LOVE it!! Not because I have “power” or anything like that, but I really just have a head for numbers, plus he is in the Army, so it is easier for me to handle things all the time, that way when he is gone there are no issues. I enjoy it so much that my husband has told me he thinks I would make a great accountant and that he would totally support me going back to school to get an accounting degree!) I made a budget on an Excel spreadsheet with all things listed…paychecks, bills, mortgage amount, credit score, savings amounts, etc. Once a month after updating totals and paying bills, I print it out and we discuss any changes that need to happen. I think whether it is the husband, the wife, or both who handle financial matters, the biggest thing is to communicate and find a common ground to agree on. Both partners should be aware of what is being done with the family finances so there are no surprises which could lead to bigger marital issues. A one sided approach to finances could easily lead to arguments and ultimately trust issues.

  14. Such an excellent post! Finances are definitely an area where both husband and wife need to be up to date.

  15. For years, my husband’s grandfather faithfully paid the household bills and handled all of the finances. Last year, he took ill and as a result, Grandma had to take the reigns and pay everything. We thought she was doing a good job until one day we received a returned check because she didn’t even know how to write the check. It turned out that she relied on him to do this from day one. The only thing she knew how to do was go to the ATM and take money out. As a result, we had to give her a crash lesson in handling the finances.

    My husband is primarily responsible for taking care of our finances (he is excellent with money and a great budgeter). However, seeing what happened with his grandmother and how she was clueless about the finances, it encouraged us to sit down twice a month and go over our finances. Now I confidentally tell you where our money goes, the frequency of the payments and what we are saving for.

    Even if you trust your spouse 100% (which I do), it is good practice to know what is going on.
    TC Thompson recently posted…Wedded *Whoa*ment: Nagging Nurse or Wise Wife?My Profile

  16. Sheila,
    First, on this issue I agree with you. But I know some men and women who don’t. I’ve been here at your blog for nine months now. I have heard you speak about 25 different ways what submission is not, half the time disagreeing with you. I’ve yet to see what submission is from you, in your book (I mean the figuraitevly I haven’t read your books and maybe you cover it in there). The Bible sure mentions this a lot when mentioning wives roles to their husbands and yet it seems all I hear is what it is not. I honestly struggle reading respect for your husbands in your blog. I see a general undertone of the opposite, nothing outright, but very subtle. (please tell me if you think I am wrong on this..but I’ve been here a year now and at least half of your posts I feel those undercurrents…I want to believe otherwise) Can you tell me what you role you think submission plays (how that looks, etc.). I honestly want to come over and think you have the best of intentions for husbands…but honestly I struggle quite a bit with the attitude and surety you propose these things. I hear much talk of communication, intimacy, working as a team, a little about sex… I think the Bible talks about sex quite a bit in the marriage relationship but respect, submission…words the Bible uses a lot in teaching wives I rarely hear this words from you, unless it’s in a negative context. Is there a reason? Sorry if this gets us off topic.

    • Robert, perhaps you should read Sheila’s books, if you don’t think she talks about sex enough. I believe you may be reading one part and missing the other. God Bless You!
      Holly Smith recently posted…How to Forgive and WhyMy Profile

      • Holly,
        Thanks for your reply. Can you explain what you mean by “you may be reading one part and missing the other”? I did not understand.

        I’m not sure how to say this. My question wasn’t based on my marriage…thankfully we don’t need a book on sex (the first decade of marriage I would have bought my wife every one she had! That problem has been solved…but I do think many wives need bi-weekly reminders)…it’s more of a why are these topics covered question. I’m guessing that in if the Bible thinks its important enough to mention that dreaded word Sheila keeps saying is what each topic is not about, submission (and I think respect is closely linked) so very often when talking about marriage…why everything is NOT about it?

        Here’s my theory for what it’s worth. We are given several teaching in the New Testament about marriage. Men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and women are to respect and submit to their husbands. Also, do not deprive. There are others but they are so very closely linked/similar that I think those things cover it. Assuming God knows what He is talking about, I do, then I think that is both spouses are doing those things we will be communicating, intimate, a team…all these things Sheila talks about. There will be trials and sins, as we are sinful human beings.

        My uneasiness with so much of Sheila’s teaching seems to be the jump to the communicating, being intimate (I’m not talking sex per say here, but intimacy/closeness), friendship…all these things are great. But you’d think if that was the goal that’s what Christ would have talked about. That’s what Paul would have taught. I often feel she jumps to the end without the pathway there, at least from the female perspective. I think many of these things she talks about could be headed under love your wife as Christ loves the church. But I fail to see in nine months how all I hear is what submission is not. Even when I see the word respect, it’s usually lead into it by “let him”…like the authority is coming from the wife. In other words, either modern day Christian women have so mastered these traits that God kept mentioning again and again or we are trying to get around them to acheive the same result (a loving, close marriage). I think many of things Sheila teaches are better taught to men because these are our weaker points and I wonder why a mostly female audience keeps tackling subjects that they are far better at (communicating, expressing feelings) when it seems God thinks these ideas of respect and submission are important enough to keep bringing it up.

        The only reasons I can come up with is 1) the men aren’t trusted to do their end of the deal or 2) women don’t want to do their end of the deal.

        I want to be wrong. I greatly treasure Sheila and her writing but it’s like everyday I wrestle with it for an hour in my mind as I work. I keep coming away with the conviction that what we are putting in front of our women is what they want to hear and not always what they need to hear. I fail to see how everything that comes up, children, housework, finiances, sex….the list goes on is NOT about submission.

        I don’t keep my wife locked up in the basement. She’s treated like a queen….she’s my everything. I love her more than anything. I’m not trying to hurt women here. I’m just trying to understand how the verses that are dedicated to wives in the Bible these same things come up again and again, and yet here on a marriage blog to mostly wives this is not mentioned except in the negative sense.

        • Robert, I appreciate your concerns, but I believe that what I teach is a biblical model of marriage. I don’t use the word submission often (though I’ve defined it many times in my posts) simply because it has been horribly abused in the church, and I believe it still is being horribly abused, telling women in impossible situations that they need to stay or put up with abuse or neglect or porn because they are to submit.

          Instead, I teach what submission is without using the word. I tell women they have to change themselves first, not wait for their husbands to change. I tell them they have to think about their husband’s happiness and learn to speak their husband’s love language. I tell them that marriage is about holiness, not primarily about happiness. I tell them that they are to respect their husbands. I tell them that our role on this earth is to learn to serve, not to expect to be served.

          All of these things are submission (and don’t forget, submission is the attitude that all Christians are to have to one another, not just wives to husbands, according to Ephesians).

          These are all healthy things, and to me, these are the root of marriage problems.

          I am curious why it is so important to some people that I say the word “submit” as opposed to serve him first, do not expect him to make you happy, and change yourself first. If I were to say “submit”, people picture many, many different things, including a lot of the negative and wrong teaching that is coming out of the church now and that came out earlier. So I can’t use that word; people do not know what it means. Instead I teach the spirit of it.

          Sometimes words lose their meaning when they are abused. In that case, the word is no longer an effective vehicle for communicating an idea. I believe that is the case with the word submission, since I have known so many women who have stayed in abusive relationships, or who have put up with their husbands consuming hours of porn a night and using prostitutes, because they believed they were submitting. Thus, I don’t use the word often, and I won’t start. There are more effective ways to communicate how to have a healthy marriage, and that is what I try to do.

          I hope you understand.

          • Sheila,
            I find your answer honest, good and troubling all at the same time. If you will let me can I explain or ask a little more in depth. First, why is every conversation started about what the worst of my gender do. Why can’t we use the word submit because of what 10% who are either not Christians or horribly sinning and abusive Christian (we’ll save the debate on whether they truly are Christians for another day). We isn’t that the end of the story and not the start. If I were to turn this logic around I could easily say that I shouldn’t of “loved” my wife for the first decade of our marriage. I believe in fact many women’s definition of the word “love” is just as jaded/unrealistic/self centered. I honestly struggle with this idea that seems to flow throughout the Christian blog community that men are so bad that we must change the words we use and even the attitude of how we approach marriage. It seems we have set men and women up on two different levels of sinners these days. It’s a common belief that women seem to not hurt their husbands as much as vice versa and if indeed they are hurting their husbands it’s just because they don’t understand. I am so sorry, but I think this attitude is not only dangerous but inaccurate.

            There is no doubt a percentage of men that are doing great harm to their wives. I think there is probably an equal number of wives doing great harm to their husbands.

            While I agree with you that words can change…why is it we then change one side of the “verbage” for a lack of better term. While I agree submit can be pervertted so can anything. The one time I heard you define it you made it sound like being his cheerleader and that’s a gross minintrepretation of the word.

            I haven’t thought about why the word is important before, so forgive me but this is my from the hip thoughts. To me is means a laying down of your heart, will, complete “I’m in”…more or less what the husband is required to do by loving as Christ loved the church. I’m sorry, I see what “respect” means to people these days that words, since we are fighting over the meaning of words does not communicate “all in”.

            Last thought, I know way to many women who use the word abuse to freely. Emotional abuse…I worry that we have so many damaged women who are so fragile today that strong talk is emotional abuse. I’ll be open and transparent. During my wife’s sex struggles for over a decade we would fight…alot. We would say the exact same thing to each other. To her she would feel abused. To me it wasn’t above I’m frustrated talk. Sometimes when I hear what women say is emotional abuse I roll my eyes. I’ve got no use for a man who beats his wife. In fact I’ve been known to be the enforcer in our church on the rare occassion it happens (not many men want to have a taste of their own medicine from a man my size)…but I think we use the term abuse way to much. I also think that we frame the issue from the woman’s side. Most men I know would gladly get socked in the mouth if they had to choose between that and their wife refusing them sex or totally disrespecting them. I think we judge the damage done strictly from the woman’s frame of mind if that makes sense.

            I guess I find it troubling. I know the exact same issues exsisted in Paul’s day…probably way more so since women were more like property back then and yet we think women have it so bad today that we have to change the words…I don’t know Sheila it doesn’t sit right in my mind and I honestly don’t see even the spirit of the word in many of your topics as hard as i look. I really want to be wrong….

          • I’m sorry, Robert, but I don’t see how you could NOT see it in my posts. Take this one, for instance, which is my most popular posts for the last two months.

            I do think words are important, though. Take the word “fornication”. That’s a translation of a word in the Bible that literally means having sex outside of a marriage relationship. But if you were to say “fornication” to the majority of the population, that’s not what they would hear. What they would hear is something akin to bestiality or orgies. So we can’t say “God says don’t fornicate”; we have to instead say, “God wants us to wait for marriage to have sex, and then to remain faithful to our spouses.” Yet nowhere in the Bible do the words “wait for marriage to have sex” appear. Instead, the word we translate as fornicate does. Nevertheless, we are quite comfortable teaching the meaning of the word, rather than using the English word that we use to translate a Hebrew word.

            Language changes. Today, I do not believe the word “submit” has the connontations that it had when Paul wrote. I believe that it has largely been distorted. Not in all circles, but in many. And so language means that I teach it in a different way.

            To many people, submission is equated with putting up with abuse or with never saying anything and letting him make all the decisions. That, I don’t believe, is biblical. And so I do not want to use a word which a large portion of my audience will misunderstand. I want to be clear in what I say.

            I understand that you do not see the word that way; but many, many people do. And so I want to teach women in a different way.

            I’m sorry if you think that my posts do not do that; I believe that they do. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree!

          • Good response, Sheila. I, personally, believe you are right on with this. I am a little confused by Roberts points myself. To me, you do a fantastic job of writing about real issues and real solutions. I do not post often (I think yesterday was the first time) but I do read your blog almost daily for the last year or so. To me, what I have most gotten out of it as a whole is how to put my selfishness aside and focus on my husband, his needs, how I can serve and respect him, etc. This in turn makes him feel loved, cherished, respected which in turn causes him to show his love to me more which is a wonderfully awesome thing! I personally believe that most all of the points you bring up, whether the word submit is used or not, are practical applications that wholly encompass submission. What I do not like, and think is not really helpful, is when words are thrown around–submit to your husband, respect your husband, love your husband (not even just your husband but anyone for that matter–and not just these actions but others as well)–and no practical applications come with them. I understand I am supposed to do ________, but what does ________ look like in our every day living. I have learned so much practical information from your blog and book. It has really been invaluable to me as I am sure it has been to many of your other readers. And our husbands thank you! (Im sure mine does anyway–if he knew where I was getting all my tips and info ;-))

          • I want to agree wholeheartedly with this! I love the amount of practical application in your blog, Sheila. You don’t just say “both people should know the finances” you give practical advice of what that might look like. That is one of the reasons I love your blog. After reading, I feel like I can apply your tips/advice to my marriage, which is much more helpful than just saying “love your husband unconditionally” without giving practical tips and advice of what that looks like.

          • Thanks, Pam! Glad I could help.

        • Hey Robert! I think you pose a great question! And so many people are afraid or hesitant to tackle the actual term and subject of ‘submission’ because of the reason Sheila mentioned, that the church has misused it for so long. And of course, society hates that word and twists it even more!
          I’ve grown up in church all my life….so I heard submit all my life. And honestly I didn’t really know what it meant, and society tells us that submission is a bad thing and that as women if we submit to our husbands it mearly means that we have no mind of our own and that we aren’t capable of being strong, independent members of society.
          But, now that I’m a wife and have actually studied what it means….this is my take. Yes, all of what Sheila writes about is a part of being a wife, and yes, sometimes submission.
          But if you look at Ephesians 5:24, the Greek word is ‘hypotasso’ which means to arrange under, to yeild to….I like how the Blue Letter Bible Lexicon explains it: “This word was a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5293&t=NIV

          So submission is basically a voluntary act. As a wife, I choose to place myself under my husband’s authority (as an act of obedience to Christ). The husband is ultimately the leader of the house…but that does not mean a wife doesn’t have any authority or say in anything. For me and my husband….as a practicality, all decisions we make, financial, physical, parental, etc., are all mutually discussed. Most of the time we agree of the decision being made…. but sometimes I don’t agree with his decision, but because I choose to place myself under his leadership, he has the final word. And I, as his wife, help him “carry the burden” of whatever comes in our lives. I am his helper, his teammate, I am to cooperate with him. And I’m there to offer up my advice and opinions to him.
          Now, I believe true Biblical submission goes straight out of the window when there is abuse, affairs, or if the husband is asking/telling the wife to do something sinful. We are to submit to Christ ultimately, and if we are being asked to do something wrong, or put up with injustices of that magnitude, then there’s a great little word for that, ‘NO’…..And God will honor that.
          Hope this helps…

          • (comments have been deleted by editor because they’re getting off track and aren’t related to the post.)

  17. We’re doing Dave’s envelope system! I sort of messed it up this pay period, and we need to take another look at a few budget items, but overall we’re making progress!!

    Thanks for this post. :)
    Megan G. recently posted…just a little light readingMy Profile

  18. My hubby is definately the financial person in our marriage. That being said, he does an excellent job of keeping me updated. He has a file that he updates periodically stored away that tells me where everything is and exactly what actions to take if something should happen to him. I know where it is and I pray I never have to open it.

  19. Thank you for writing this post. My husband takes care of the bills, and I can certainly see how only one of us knowing how to access certain things financially could be devastating. Because of his work, he does have to travel, and during those times we are much better about communicating about our finances since we are in different places and we have to keep track of who is spending what. However, we could certainly improve our day to day communication about finances. Thanks for the advice and eye opener.

  20. I took a Dave Ramsey class back in November of 2011 and it helped me so much. So many people live in debt because they think its a way of life not despising they can get out of it. I do our finances but every Friday I let my husband know how much money we have and what bills are left for the month. Absolutely great post!!
    regina recently posted…New things coming!My Profile

  21. I would like to recommend to anyone who ever has the chance to do the Crown Biblical Financial Study (http://www.crown.org/AboutCrown/Vision.aspx#) should do it without hesitation. Its a 10 week process where you and your spouse (if you have one) attend a group meeting (usually affiliated with a church) and you do weekly assignments. One of the books you work out of has you read verses of the bible and answer questions about those verses. Some questions have you reflect on how those verses apply to you. The other book you and your spouse do together. It is a Practical Application workbook, which has 10 weeks worth of assignments. Each week you will fill out forms for certain areas of your finances. It helps you glide into a envelope type knowledge. You will have a monetary breakdown of every aspect of your life by the time your done! And if you do it together and really work together on it, even if there are late night hashing sessions about who’s spending what, your marriage could grow so much more!

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.

Leave a Comment


CommentLuv badge