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Why Marriage Matters: Do Credit Cards Cause Problems in Your Marriage?

Wedding rings and large bills of moneyAround the country, people will be flocking to the post office today to mail their tax returns. 

Hubby and I are no different. 

One of my weaknesses is staying on top of my record keeping on a monthly basis. Each April I proclaim I’m going to do better, and each year I succeed–marginally.

As we talked about different expenses over the weekend, Hubby and I were able to speak calmly and rationally about changes in our budget. We even teased about a major purchase I want badly. 

That wasn’t always the case in our marriage.

Almost 10 years ago, we started to accumulate a large credit card debt on separate cards, but neither really knew how much debt the other cards held until I wasn’t able to cover my debt from a side business I had.

Even though people joke about it, retail therapy can be as addicting as drugs and alcohol. I became an emotional shopper. Browsing through clearance racks and finding great deals filled me with a retail “high.” I told myself I could quit with one purchase. And I could pass up deals any time I wanted. I justified my purchases by saying I got such a great deal on them. Then I started hiding what I bought. Little by little, the purchases and monthly fees accumulated to where the credit card amounts due were higher than I could afford. 

I felt sick to my stomach when I realized my credit card debt had spiraled out of control. With a pounding heart and shaky legs, I went to Hubby and confessed what I had done. He was quite shocked, but he never freaked out on me. I was so afraid he’d lash out. Or worse–leave me. 

We talked and realized we needed outside help to fix this problem. 

Believe it or not, but that problem brought us closer together. 

We realized it wasn’t my problem or his problem, but OUR problem. I confessed about certain negative feelings and fears I had, but Hubby offered me love and support. I wasn’t the only guilty one either. He had used another card quite a bit too. 

We worked together, took steps to clear this debt and then celebrated when we made the final payment. Talk about a feeling of freedom! 

For the past few years, we’ve lived successfully without credit cards by maintaining a separate savings account. When our hot water heater broke, we were able to pay for a new one in cash. Just the other day, Hubby mentioned how nice it was not to rely on credit to pay for something we needed for the house.

Credit cards offer rewards for college tuition, Disney points, cash back, etc… Those perks are great if you’re maintaing a healthy respect for the card use. The key to using a credit card properly and still reaping the benefit of the rewards is to use them only when you can pay off the amount due each month before the due date. 

My friend uses her credit card for almost everything. When she buys something with her credit card, she deducts the amount from her checking account. That way she has the money to pay the balance due on her card each month without accumulating monthly fees and interest. 

Over the weekend, I handed Hubby a credit card application and said I wanted to apply for it for traveling purposes. We’re finding certain hotels ask for a credit card for incidentals during stays, but when you offer your debit/check card, they freeze your account or freeze a certain amount. Not all hotels do this, but some do. I reassured him the card wouldn’t be used for shopping trips, etc. I wasn’t slipping back into that old habit. If I can’t pay cash for it, then I don’t need it. 

Hubby is the rational one in our marriage. I rule with my heart. He completes me in such a fantastic way. He helps me see the reasoning behind certain financial choices we need to make for our budget. When expensive projects come up, we talk about them. Last summer we needed a new roof and new windows. The cost was high, so we discussed our options and made the right choice for us. 

When I want to go shopping with my friends, Hubby kisses me good-bye and tells me to have a great time. He doesn’t lecture me about responsible spending. He may joke and ask if I need adult supervision, but I assure him I will be fine. 

Each couple is going to have a different financial experience. The key to keep money from causing problems in your marriage is to communicate openly and honestly about your needs and expectations. Keeping secrets from your spouse splinters the trust in your relationship. Irresponsible spending damages relationships quickly, especially when talking about money becomes a shouting match and accusations fly out faster than you can catch them.

When you’re faced with financial challenges, consider these options:

  • Pray and ask for God’s wisdom and discernment for direction.
  • Ask for outside help through credible organizations that can help you restructure your budget to make timely payments to clear up your debt.
  • If credit cards are an issue, cut them up.
  • Learn to live within your financial means without relying on plastic.
  • Celebrate small financial victories with one another.
  • Forgive past mistakes.
  • Make healthy financial choices together to strengthen your relationship for the long-term.

Your Turn: How do you feel talking money with loved ones? What suggestions can you offer others in helping them make wise financial choices?

Tweet this:

  • Are credit cards causing problems in your #marriage? @lisajordan offers suggestions to help. http://ow.ly/k2Umj  

 

 

Lisa Jordan
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Why Marriage Matters: What’s Unique About Your Marriage?

Why Marriage Matters post 4_8_13Over the weekend, I attended a training for my day job. The presenter handed out index cards and asked us to write something on the card that is unique about us. We turned in the cards, and throughout her presentation, she pulled a card and read the unique quality and we had to guess who the person was.

Being from out of town, I didn’t know many of the women in the group, so I had no idea who owned the unique quality she mentioned. 

Each one of us has unique qualities. In my training setting, my unique quality was I wrote Christian romance novels for Love Inspired. 

However, in this setting, my unique quality is the reverse–I’m also an early childhood educator. 

While considering a blog post for today, her question echoed through my head. In the middle of Sunday’s sermon, I pulled a notebook out of my purse and wrote, “What’s unique about your marriage?”

 Your marriage may seem routine or boring to you. But someone else may be able to zero in on your marriage’s uniqueness. 

The unique qualities of my marriage are:

  • Hubby and I dated long distance for 18 months before getting marriage, communicating by letters, phone calls and occasional visits. 
  • We eloped.
  • We weathered a terrible storm in our marriage and not only survived, but grew closer together. 
  • In October, we will celebrate 24 years of marriage–something that’s becoming less common.

Your Turn: What’s unique about your marriage? If you’re not married, what’s unique about your parents’ or a sibling’s or a friend’s marriage?

Lisa Jordan
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Why Marriage Matters: Supporting Your Spouse Through a Job Loss

Supporting Your Spouse Through Job Loss GraphicIn January 2009, Hubby came home from work early. I was so surprised to see him and asked if he was feeling well. He had an expression on his face that imprinted into my memory. Before he said anything, a chill coiled in the pit of my stomach. My heart pounded against my ribcage. Then he said the words that sent a spiral of panic coursing through my veins…”Due to economic downsizing, I’ve been let go.”

His position had been eliminated.

I’m a stay-at-home-work-at-home mom, but Hubby’s income was our primary financial resource, and he carried the insurance for our family. 

After the initial shock wore off, I remembered a conversation I had with God a few months before that. I had thanked Him for Hubby’s recent promotion, then asked Him to prevent Hubby from being affected by the layoff rumors.

From January 2009 to July 2012, Hubby had a couple of temporary jobs, but nothing permanent. God opened the door for him to return to school to get his degree in business. However, when he graduated, he struggled to find a job. He received interviews, even second interviews, but no job offers…until God opened that door last July. 

During those three years, I learned a few things about supporting a spouse:

  • Pray for your spouse. Ask God to give you the words to encourage and the patience to endure the trials to come. Ask God to open doors on your spouse’s behalf. Ask God to give your spouse a sense of fulfillment and encouragement.
  • Expect a variety of emotions. Hubby’s career counselor likened losing a job to going through divorce. Your spouse may experience negative emotions–sadness, frustration, depression, anxiety, feelings of failure–and it’s so hard to see him feel this way. Men, in particular, feel the need to be providers. When this is taken from them, they struggle and can feel like they’re failing their families.
  • Speak his language. His love language, that is. Let him know through your positive actions and words that you’ve got his back–you’ll be by his side and you will work through this together. Speak truth to his strengths. Remind him of his positive traits. Encourage him to stay active in his other roles.
  • Voice your expectations. If you’d like your spouse to take on more responsibilities around the house while he’s looking for a new job, be sure to work together so you both know what each other’s expectations are. Men and women have different ideas of clean and what needs to be done. Your hubby may not be bothered by the overflowing laundry basket or realize you’ve been out of milk for two days. Being clear in your expectations helps to eliminate frustration and resentment.
  • Consider your finances. Review your finances as a couple and share ways you can cut back on unnecessary expenses. Be creative for date nights and family fun events that cost little or no money. 
  • Resist the urge to “help” your spouse with his job search. While you may think you’re being helpful by sharing job opportunities from the classifieds or Monster.com, your spouse may feel pressured already. 

Your spouse’s loss of job can turn out to be a mixed blessing–more family time, less time spent commuting. Be sure to take time to communicate concerns. Be quick to listen and slow to lash out in anger or frustration. This is a difficult time for all of you, but it’s a season. God has a plan and a purpose for your lives. 

Why Marriage Matters graphic

 

Your Turn: Has your spouse or another family member experienced a job loss? How did you support him or her?

If you’d like to write for Why Marriage Matters, be sure to read the details here: Why Marriage Matters Guidelines

Lisa Jordan
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Why Marriage Matters: Building Up Your Husband

Why Marriage Matters graphic

Therefore encourage one another 

and build each other up, 

just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

Quite a few years ago, I “vented” to my then sister-in-law (she and my brother-in-law have divorced since then) about something my husband had or hadn’t done. I said, “I don’t mean to complain, but…”

She replied, “Yes, you do, but you’re frustrated.”

Her response floored me.

I meant to complain? No, I wanted to vent. There’s a difference. Right?

No.

Venting equals complaining. By doing so, I was tearing down my husband. 

Quite honestly, I get quite annoyed by male bashing because I’m the only female in my house. By lumping all men together, I’m saying my husband and my two sons are part of that group of men who can’t do anything right. 

And that’s not the perception I want any of them to see from me.

I saw a quote on Pinterest stating, “Don’t talk bad about your husband to anyone. Ever.”

I have to confess and say I was convicted by that statement. 

Yes, I get frustrated, but it’s my choice how I deal with that frustration.

I want my husband to feel like the most important person in my life. I want him to know I have his back. I want to build him up so he’s the man God created him to be. 

Here are my simple tips for building up your husband:

  • Pray daily. Pray for his spiritual walk. Pray for his parenting skills. Pray for his job. Pray for his health. Pray for his attitude. Pray for his devotion in your marriage.
  • Speak truth. Tell him how much you love him every day. Let him know what a good father he is. Share something about him that you love. Every. Single. Day.
  • Love always. Love is a choice. Love is a commandment from God. Love is essential to every marriage. Say “I love you” daily. Show how much you love him by doing something that pleases him, even if it’s something little like making his lunch or keeping his laundry washed and folded. 
  • Honor him. You made a vow to honor him for the rest of your life. A promise. When the marriage gets tough, don’t be so quick to end the marriage. 
  • Choose peace. Frustration happens because our insecurities surface or our expectations aren’t being met. If you find yourself becoming frustrated with your husband, consider why. If he didn’t take out the garbage like you asked, is it worth getting on the phone and griping to your best friend? Maybe he did forget. Instead of lashing out, let him know how you feel and what expectations you had in a way that strengthens your bond instead of biting his head off. 
  • Model Godly behavior. If you have children, you are modeling behavior. They notice when Mommy and Daddy fight, when they show love and how to have a strong marriage. Model the kind of Godly behavior you want your son or daughter to share with their future spouses. Instead of calling Daddy an idiot, make sure your child knows about Daddy’s intelligence or kindness. If you’re in a spiritually mismatched marriage, your Godly behavior will be noticed by your husband.

Building up your husband takes purposeful thought and effort, especially if you’ve fallen into a negative pattern. If you’re struggling in your  marriage, take it to God in prayer. Every marriage is different and no couple is perfect, but with God’s help, you can have the kind of marriage you desire. Building up your husband daily will go a long way in creating a marriage that lasts a lifetime. 

If you would like to write a guest post about Why Marriage Matters, please email me via my contact page, and I’ll be in touch. For Why Marriage Matters guest post guidelines, click here: Why Marriage Matters guidelines

Your Turn: If you’re married, how do you build up your spouse? If you’re not married, how do you see others build up their spouse? Share examples. 

Tweet to share: Are you building up your husband? @lisajordan shares Why #Marriage Matters: Building Up Your #Husband http://ow.ly/j8WVN 

Lisa Jordan
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Why Marriage Matters

Why Marriage Matters graphic

“God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed it.Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God.”  ~ Max Lucado

As a Christian woman and a wife, I believe in the sanctity of marriage as ordained by God—the official union between a man and a woman.

In today’s culture, many people consider marriage archaic. I’ve read many articles about couples in Hollywood getting engaged but refusing to get married until marriage is equal for everyone.

Holy matrimony—ordained by God—isn’t everyone’s choice. When God created marriage, he designed it as a union between a man and a woman.

As our world falls away from traditional values and embraces worldly behaviors, we need to encourage others to preserve the sanctity of marriage. 

Those closest to me know my core values. They know I embrace promises of hope and happily ever after. For me, happily ever after means being married to a heroic husband who honors, loves and cherishes me as God intended.

Since I express myself better through words, I’ve chosen to mark Mondays on my blog as Why Marriage Matters. My voice isn’t loud, but I can share my words with others.

And I invite you to share your words, as well.

Each week I will host guest bloggers sharing why marriage matters to them. I’d love to hear from men and women, married or single. If you and your spouse would like to co-write a post, I’d love to host your shared post. 

Please follow these guidelines to stay within the theme of why marriage matters: 

  • Posts should be focused on some aspect of why marriage matters to you. You may speak of love, marriage, family or relationships, no matter if you’re male or female, married or single. 
  • Please keep your posts to 400 words or less.
  • Please conclude your post by asking an open-ended question to engage readers in conversation.
  • If you’re able, reply to comments left on your post within the week of your scheduled date.
  • Please include the following with your post:
    • A photo of you and your spouse, if you’re married. If you’re single, a photo I can use with your blog post.
    • Favorite scripture or quote that fits with the theme of your post.
    • Brief bio (around 75 words)
    • If you are a published writer, you’re welcome to share your current book cover & back cover copy for additional publicity.
  • Please send your post and necessary info to me a week before your scheduled due date. 

If you would like to write a guest Why Marriage Matters post, please leave a comment with your email so I can contact you for scheduling, or you may email me at lisa at lisajordanbooks dot com and put Why Marriage Matters Guest Post in the subject line. 

Your Turn: Why does marriage matter to you?

(If you’re so inclined, please consider “Liking” my Facebook Author Page and subscribing to my newsletter.)

Tweet to share: Why does #marriage matter to you? @lisajordan offers a blogging opportunity for those who believe in holy matrimony http://ow.ly/izhK6

Lisa Jordan
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