How do spouses share expenses?
I recently ran across a question on Personal Finance Q&A’s over at Moolanomy. The question itself was not all that remarkable, but the scene portrayed in the lead up to the question portrays a marriage that might be headed for trouble in my humble opinion.
Here is a portion of the questions posted by a writer who identified herself as KJC. If you would like the entire context, click through here:
Our first mortgage payment is due August 1 and just last night we received our first payment voucher in the mail. Despite never discussing this, my husband is now telling me he thinks it is only fair if we pay the mortgage based on our percentage of gross income. Meaning that since my salary is higher, I would pay more. I explained to him that I had a problem with this for 2 reasons.
One. I really don’t make more when you take into account my $400.00/month student loan debt. Two. We both use the house equally and so I feel we should be responsible for the payment equally.
I asked him if that meant we should pay all shared expenses on a percentage of income basis. He replied, “yes”. He says that he shouldn’t have to pay for my student loan debt and in essence that was what he’d be doing if he paid for half of all the bills. My response was that I shouldn’t be penalized for marrying someone who makes less than I do.
I have several comments, as you can imagine:
- What is the husband going to do if children come along and his wife decides to stay home with the children? Will he become a tyrant because he is the only person earning a paycheck?
- Those of you who might be considering taking on large student loans . . . let this be a lesson to you.
- Can you imagine sitting down and figuring out who is contributing what on a percentage basis toward the household income? What if one spouse’s job provides the healthcare for the household? Or what if one job has a better pension? Or if one job requires employees to go to lunch or wear expensive clothing? How does that affect the percentage of household income? How about equity, what if one spouse brought a better car into the marriage? What is this a shareholder’s meeting?
- I have a high view of marriage, one that I believe is biblical. There is no such thing as his and hers. My wife’s student loans are just as much my responsibility as they are hers – and vice versa. Every dime that we both earn goes into the same pot and is distributed in the manner that best benefits our household.
Yes, there are times when I mess up and buy something selfishly and there are times when Mrs. Stew might overspend, but our goal is to be an unselfish team when it comes to the area of finances. Remember, marriage is not a financial agreement, but there are financial implications to marriage. Let me share just a few passages of Scripture that have bearing on the situation that we find here:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. – Matthew 19:5
You and your spouse are not two autonomous people, but one! It might sound like a crazy idea in our modern world, maybe old-fashioned, maybe a little scary, but the best way for a couple to operate financially is if all “accounts receivable” and “accounts payable” belong to both the husband and wife together. How can such a partnership work? It is difficult, and it goes against our human nature, but the keys lie in the next two passages:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . . So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it . . . – Ephesians 5:25, 28, 29
Everything that the husband does needs to be for the good of the wife. He must care for her as if he were caring for his own body, because, he is. It can be difficult for we selfish, lazy men to care for and serve our wives. It is even harder for wives to follow this instruction from the Bible:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
The command for wives to be “subject” is one that is often misunderstood and we do not have time to dissect it exhaustively. Being “subject” is not the idea of servant hood or slavery, but rather the idea that when there is a major decision to be made in the home, the responsibility for that decision ultimately lies with the husband. Not because he is smarter or the “master”, but because he is accountable for the repercussions, the wife is protected from that accountability. Furthermore, if the husband is obeying the command specifically given to him, things should work out okay for both parties – especially if the husband is smart enough to hear all that his wife has to say on a particular subject before making the final decision. A loving husband will invite and encourage input from his wife.
Both commands are difficult, but if both parties are doing their best, God will bless the union.
Article by Stew
Photo by Luke Wisely