Remarriage Finances Part 2: Financial Harmony in Remarriage
By Joseph Warren Kniskern, Esq.
In Part 1, we addressed the question as to why money is such a problem in remarriage. We concluded that the common denominator in determining whether finances will ever become a problem is each partner's attitude regarding money. Well, as Christians, what should our attitude be toward money?
Consider the Apostle Paul's warning in I Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." [Emphasis added.] Notice what Paul tells us--it is not money that is the problem, but the love of money. It is making the accumulation of money an end in itself, rather than using it as a tool for providing for our families and those less fortunate.
What Is Our Attitude Problem With Money? We want it because we think having lots of money will meet all of our needs and desires. We believe it will satisfy our desire for power, importance and self-gratification. But it never does. Why? Because real satisfaction only comes from being right with God. As Paul explains after the verses warning against the love of money: "But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love endurance and gentleness." (I Tim. 6:11) Life-fulfilling satisfaction comes from enjoying the fruits of God's blessings which money cannot buy--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23) It comes from seeking God's kingdom first, rather than running after the things of this world. (Matt. 6:25-34)
Having wealth and possessions also distorts our priorities in life. In 1997, the London Mirror described Queen Elizabeth II and some royal family members this way: "The Queen's eyes were glassy and she appeared to struggle with her emotions...The Princess Royal [Anne] dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief, and the Prince of Wales [Charles] shook his head." "It was the most remarkable display of feelings in her 45-year reign," said the paper, quoting a palace official as saying, "[The Queen] has never shown such emotion in public before." You might assume that the royal family was reminiscing about the late Princess Diana. Not so! The tears welled up, and emotion brewed, over the retirement of the royal yacht, "Brittania!" The often quoted proverb still rings true: "Possessions weigh me down in life, I never feel quite free. I don't know if I own my things...or if my things own me!"
Our attitudes about money also impact our family lives. Spy Magazine once published a very politically incorrect child's guide to the economic status of one's family this way: "If your father comes home from work at 4:30, you're lower middle class. If your father comes home at 5:30, you're middle class. If your father comes home at 6:30, you're upper middle class. If your father never comes home at all, you're rich. If your father never leaves home, you're poor."// Sadly, this humorous analysis isn't too far from the truth!
Our desire for money can lead us to sell out our principles and values. Blackie Sherrod of the Dallas Morning News, once gave this account of an agent approaching former basketball star Charles Barkley, about doing a car commercial: "Agent wants NBA star to film a commercial. Agency would send a special plane to hop him to Los Angeles, limo to studio, six lines to say, boom, that's it. No, I don't want to do a commercial for a foreign car [replies the NBA star]. But it's no trouble. Take three hours at the most. Nope. Six lines, that's all you have to say, six lines. I won't do it. Please. No. They'll pay five hundred thousand bucks. `Let's go,' says Barkley."//
What is your attitude toward money? How about that of your beloved? Are your values and integrity for sale to the highest bidder?
Why Is It Such A Problem To Want More Money? Because, as Jesus says: "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matt. 6:24) Our hearts and minds can become so divided that we are ineffective and unproductive and forget about what life is all about. Furthermore, it is foolish to spend our lives wanting to accumulate money and possessions. Why? Because life does not consist of accumulating things. (Lk. 12:15) Because it takes so much time and effort to keep it and maintain it all! And because we worry about it constantly. As Jesus notes in Matthew 6:19, our possessions will wear out, rust out or be taken out by thieves. The time, effort and worry about what we own immobilize us and make us hostages to circumstances. But no one can steal away the "treasures in heaven" we possess by pleasing our Creator and Lord.
What Should Our Attitude Be Toward Money? It comes from trusting and believing that God will give us what we need (not necessarily what we want) if we put Him first in our lives. (Matt. 6:33) It also comes from knowing our roles and responsibilities. We are stewards or trustees, who receive God's blessings, with the responsibility to account for how we use those blessings. Like those individuals Jesus spoke of in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30, God will hold us accountable for how faithful and fruitful we have been in using what He gives us. The amount of talents we have is not of great importance--but the manner in which we use what we do have is vitally important!
What should our attitude be? Loving people, and using things, rather than the other way around. I remember being touched by reading about a warm gesture by singer Neil Diamond. Judy Levitch, a diehard Diamond fan, was crushed when she learned the seats her husband Stan bought were in the last row after arriving at the Miami Arena an hour before the concert began. Suddenly a Diamond staffer walked up to them and said, "Neil would like the two of you to be his guests--front row center!" Levitch was floored. "I said, `Why?' He said, `It's people like you, willing to sit in the last row, who made it possible for us to do a second concert. Neil just wants to reward you.'"// Isn't that nice? Our world would certainly be a better place if more people had that unselfish attitude!
Having a good attitude means remembering that people are the priority in life. In 1993, Associate Professor Margaret Cotroneo noted a trend: "When things are difficult economically, people depend on their relationships for security, and are willing to invest time and effort into preserving them."// In these perilous economic times, it seems that shoring up our relationships and making commitments to people is more important than ever--especially in remarriages and blending families!
Remember the vitally important principles discussed in this article as we move through the many financial issues discussed in the articles to follow. Remarriage partners need to strive for oneness in their relationship in all areas, and particularly money matters. We need to use God's Word as a plumbline to build our financial house as God intends, and also as a spiritual scalpel to cut through any impure thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. If you see materialism creeping into your life to the point where it overshadows your relationships, cut that cancer out of your lives quick! If you or your remarriage partner are more concerned about self-protection than self-denial, do yourself and your beloved a great favor--don't remarry! A successful remarriage absolutely must be firmly grounded in unity of the couple. Without it, you risk becoming another grim statistic.
As quoted in:
- Miami Herald, October 25, 1992, P. 2A.
- Miami Herald, April 11, 1994, P. 5D.
- Miami Herald, March 1, 1993, P. 1B.
- Miami Herald, January 2, 1993, P. 1E.