Poor decision-making and financial health are significant issues that lead to divorce, and I want to cover them here. Many biblical principles highlight decision-making and financial health.
An article in Psychology Today—How Many Decisions do we Make Each Day says, “In fact, some sources suggest that the average person makes an eye-popping 35,000 choices per day. Assuming that most people spend around seven hours per day sleeping and thus blissfully choice-free, that makes roughly 2,000 decisions per hour or one decision every two seconds”.
Wow, that’s a lot of choices!
- Desire a healthy God-glorifying marriage, and since you make so many choices in a day, I want you to be prepared to discuss finances and essential decisions.
- Having yet to enter into courtship, now is the best time to decide what you want and your expectations from a potential mate.
- Are involved with someone currently and have yet to highlight these areas in your relationship, you can start today.
My objective is to help you make wise decisions to prepare for courtship and marriage. It’s not enough to know what to ask. You’ll need to put these things into practice. However, if you’ve yet to read Married to Christ – Navigating the Single Life, you’ll want to start there.
Also, grab you a copy of the Soul Check-up. It will help you regularly keep your thoughts in perspective, grow spiritually, and motivate you to organize and keep your environment intact for tremendous success in Christian Living.
What is Wise Decision-Making
So, what is a wise decision?
Before we can answer, we know that God gives wisdom. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (James 1:5 NIV).
Making intelligent decisions first involves a healthy fear of the Lord. That respect leads you to ask for wisdom and consult and trust Him on matters. God is the only one who can make our paths straight, even after we get off track. Making a habit of including Him in all decisions is beneficial long-term.
Proverbs 3:5-7 NIV says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
You can make a decision today to get clear on what you want. Many single well-meaning Christians want marriage but do not follow sound principles or seek advice from successfully married couples. Married couples pour out great experience-based wisdom.
Get Clear on Finances
What are your financial expectations?
Your financial expectations do not have to match everyone else’s, but they need to be realistic.
Many women are financially independent and more stable than some men. Their independence can cause problems if they need to adjust their lifestyle. If they marry a man who makes sustainably less money, there can also be submission issues.
That’s why you want to consider decisions and finances now. Don’t look down on anyone who makes less money.
Most women want their men to provide financially; some don’t. Also, many men want their women to work and contribute to the household—some don’t.
There is no right or wrong answer, but the man is the head and the provider biblically.
Women: Based on your current income, what income range are you looking for from your potential suitor?
Men: Does her income matter? If so, what is the minimum income you’ll rock with?
Anthony O’Neal is a single Christian. His YouTube channel gives good information about good financial questions—about decision-making and financial health before marriage for a younger demographic.
Courtship and Finances
Courtship can be cute until you tackle finances.
According to an IFDA (Institute for Divorce Financial Analyst), in their Leading Causes of Divorce survey, the top three reasons for divorce are incompatibility at 43%, infidelity at 28%, and 22%.
Making wise decisions helps cover incompatibility and infidelity issues upfront.
Finances are a significant cause of arguments and split-ups. There is such a thing as financial incompatibility.
There’s often one person that manages money very well while the other does not. If you’re unequally yoked in managing finances, resentment and arguments are certain. Now is an excellent time to address any financial debt and bad habits you may have.
Divorce rates are high because the costs of commitment to the decision to stick it out through better or worse don’t get calculated in advance. And understand that marriage can take you on a journey you never expected, even with excellent preparation.
Observe Their Habits
We all have patterns and habits, and money handling is one you can see while courting. If you don’t, you’re not asking the right questions. When you ask, God will show you how they handle their finances, and it will expose how you manage yours.
Strengths and weaknesses will show.
You’ll know if they’re giving, paying child support timely, paying their mortgage/rent, and meeting obligations.
You’ll also know if they file tax returns, shop uncontrollably, have student loan debt, or invest in assets.
If there is debt, it does not mean you walk away. But, you will have to consider the circumstances that caused them to get behind, such as:
Medical bills or illness
Business start-up or failure
Unexpected repairs and expenses
Their children’s needs
…or they are just busy, etc.)
Work and Mere Talk
If they have a solid work ethic and are willing to adhere to biblical principles for success, getting on track with money shouldn’t be an issue, although it does take time. People fall on hard times, and things appear that can set us back on things.
Don’t judge people for what happened; judge their character and if they care enough to fix it for the better.
Proverbs 14:23 NIV says, All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Observe over time if they reveal habits that indicate a pattern of financial instability.
Are they talking a good game?
All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly, Proverbs 13:16 NIV.
Poor financial management is a red flag and possibly an area of real struggle—but don’t panic yet! Maybe they’re new to submitting their finances to God. However, if they’re honest and working towards getting things in a better position, it will create trust between you, and you can decide if this is something you want to help them resolve.
If they are not showing discipline and prudence in this area, proceed with caution.
Trust! I’m no decision-making expert, nor do I have the game cornered when it comes to finances. However, I made some dumb choices and went through severe financial testing in my prior marriage, so I know a little somethin-somethin.
I’m not hounding your pockets.
The amount of money you make or have is not the topic of discussion. Your financial goal is strictly about your agreed-on expectations.
As long as you agree on the plan, focus on that. No two couples are alike. But, it would be foolish for me to dismiss one of the core causes of divorce. But, knowing financial literacy and wise decision-making yield fruit under the counsel of God in marriage.
Additionally, you don’t always know what to do in your preparation season. Consider some things before God gifts you with your heart’s desire to enter into a loving, healthy, and fulfilling marriage. Sit down and count the cost in advance.
Are You a Good Spouse?
If you want to be a good spouse, you have to be one now. In the previous article Waiting on God, I taught how the prep work started before you put money down to buy a new construction home.
Luke 14:28-30 NIV says, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.
Have you estimated the costs? Spending time in prayer and Bible study helps you hear God’s voice clearer, and He will teach you what you need to learn to count as many costs as you can in advance. God back to the new construction example in Waiting on God.
The single life is the stage where you examine and be brutally honest with yourself.
It’s a time when welcoming and cooperating with the Holy Spirit is essential as He renews your mind.
Surrendering and allowing Him to have His way will prepare you to be more Christ-like and stellar as a mate.
Some things won’t apply to everyone.
There’s work to do in marriage, so stay focused only on what you need to resolve.
MARRIAGE STEPS AND PREPS – NAVIGATING THE SINGLE LIFE
Make wise Decision-Making
Entering into your marriage with a double mind, ain’t it!
Wise choices are essential for you as a single Christian. But right choices start way before you meet them. Choosing the right person to enter into a relationship with will be one of the first ways to exercise sound judgment. Then, you get to test what you’ve been working on during your years alone.
You’ll need to figure out how you want to vet your potential mate, and once you come up with the steps, you want to stick to this plan.
When you commit your life to someone under Christ, wisdom is essential. Make sure you’re thinking clearly and have sought the insight from God and the family/friends/church He has in your life (those around before you met your mate).
Making a permanent decision based on temporary circumstances such as a job loss or an expiring lease is not a fix. If your mind and heart are not stable and sound, it’s best to hold off on making long-term decisions.
You never want to marry for the wrong reasons.
If you feel you’re getting too old, sense pressure, or want to have children before it’s too late, please halt.
Stop thinking you will never have another opportunity like this: God is not the author of confusion or rushing—these should not lead to your conclusions.
You want to be ready to do life with another.
Be careful not to get caught up and settle because you feel sorry for the other person or they are rushing you to make a decision. You want to marry who you’re supposed to marry, and if that person is not around yet, you’ll have to wait patiently on God.
Consider a person’s past, present, and future you two will have—it’s not just the here and now. When God is involved, He doesn’t rush or force you. Instead, you feel His peace.
Talk Less – Observe More
During courtship, it’s a good practice to listen, observe, and work on your communication skills.
I went on a few dates with a nice-looking guy for over a month in my twenties. He had a luxury vehicle and a decent-paying job. On the dates, he took me to three to four different places in one night, and we’d drive all around downtown Atlanta.
We’d go to one place for dinner, another for desserts, and somewhere to hear music and eat again, etc. I had fun times until I went to his place to hang out. Somehow, we discussed finances, and I discovered he was broke and behind on critical bills. He didn’t have and did not plan to obtain any furniture. His priorities were way out of whack.
Proverbs 12:15 says, The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
Decision-Making and Financial Health
How much do you value sound decisions and financial management?
This topic is profound, but it’s all about transparency and communication. I would advise you not to go along with someone’s poor habits because you want to be married. You’ll be paying for those habits long into the marriage and after the divorce.
Indeed, you can never plan for everything because you’re merging two lives and backgrounds into one household. There will be many habits and things you won’t see until you share space. Plus, marriage is full of twists and turns unique to each couple.
Decision-making and financial health aren’t one-size-fits-all, and everything isn’t black and white. The key is to minimize the blows by preparing for what you can in advance through Christ. Don’t seek His way and then turn in the opposite direction. Stay on His path.
Consistency in your relationship with God will help you to recognize things better.
If you desire to be a spouse, you want to care for someone long-term that cares about God and the things God entrusts them with. There will be enough things that require your energy, and I doubt that complaining about things God showed you prior will get you off the hook. True, you cannot change a person, but you can use your gift of God-given wisdom to set the tone during the courtship.
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