His Money. Her Money. Our Money. This seems to be a growing trend in our society for married couples to have separate accounts. They think of the money that each earns as their own personal money to do with as they will after the needs of the household are met. What does the Bible have to say about how we view money? What does Scripture have to say about whose money is whose? Should married couples have separate bank accounts? Practical marriage & money advice after twenty years of ministry and marriage.
Money & Marriage Problem
When marriages are not working, money is usually a heated topic of debate. In a 1987 study, married couples were asked about how frequently they fought about some common sore subjects: intimacy, in-laws, chores, and money. The conclusions were that the more frequently a couple argued about finances, the more likely they were to get divorced. Another study had similar findings. In that study they “‘controlled for income, debt and net worth,’ Britt said. ‘Results revealed it didn’t matter how much you made or how much you were worth. Arguments about money are the top predictor for divorce because it happens at all levels.’”
In our divorce-prone culture, some will argue that it is wiser to hedge your bets and keep your finances separate. When married couples have separate bank accounts, they feel like they have some independence in the relationship. Neither of these ideas are healthy in a biblical Christian marriage.
Why do Couples argue about Money?
Matthew 6:21 tells us that “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Money represents many things in our lives. Money is power and independence. Money is used for the basics but also for our wants and desires. Money represents the time that we have given to earn that money. How we spent our treasure reflects our fears, addictions, values, and goals.
Why do we argue about money? Because we have competing goals, fears, and values. We are broken and sinful people, and we don’t always spend money in ways that align with what we wish our values were.
Should Married Couples have Separate Bank Accounts?
#1 Christians become One Flesh in Marriage
Some couples try to head off the money arguments by having separate bank accounts. In our modern world, marriage is a contractual relationship. Two people who have their own jobs and lives, agree to live those lives together in the same house.
In contrast, Christian marriage is about a shared, kingdom vision. When married couples have separate bank accounts, they don’t have to struggle with how to live out this vision together. In a Christian marriage, a man leaves his parents and cleaves to his wife – they are now one. One’s relationship with God, one’s marriage, and their children all take priority over the things of this world.
Ultimately, Christian couples are called to unity. In Genesis 2:24, God gives instructions on marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The son’s house was not an extension of his father’s household but a new household. In this new household, he wasn’t just setting up a new house that included a wife in the deal. Instead, the son and the wife are to become one flesh.
This is more than just the physical joining. Their hopes, their dreams, their struggles, their kingdom calling are now joined. The foolish actions of one will affect the life of the other. The blessings in the life of the one will affect the life of the other. They are no longer two individuals but a unified team pursuing a godly life together. When married couples have separate bank accounts, they aren’t truly one but still separate.
#2 Your Spouse and You are a Team Together
The worldly idea of my money & your money has no place in a Christian marriage. All that you have in marriage is shared because you are now one flesh. Nothing that you own is more sacred and personal than your own body, and yet Christians are taught in 1 Corinthians 7:4 that even their bodies are not their own but shared in marriage. “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
Just as families with two incomes struggle, families that live on one income struggle with sharing money. Should married couples have separate bank accounts? No, because in a Christian marriage you are a team. The world places value on people’s work and contribution by assigning them a dollar figure. God looks at us and our work in a very different light.
If you stay at home, you are not paid, but your work is valuable. The studies say that to replace the services of a stay-at-home mother you would need to pay someone more than $100,000 dollars a year! The work down outside of the home and the work done inside of the home are both done for the same team: your family.
#3 Shared Money is about Mutual Submission
Should married couples have separate bank accounts? No, because shared money is ultimately financial intimacy. When we share finances, we stand financially naked with another person. We can’t hide our flaws and imperfections. All is laid bare.
I think it says something powerful about our hearts
that we are much more willing to be physically intimate
then we are to be financially intimate.
#4 Shared Finances Exposes our Sin
We can’t hide that shopping addiction. We can’t hide the fact that we are not tithing or generous with our money. We have to admit our lack of self-control and our selfishness. Remember, where our treasure is that is where our heart is also. Shared finances with our spouse mean that we have a built-in accountability partner who can help call our hearts back into obedience.
Do we spend money when we are bored, depressed, or stressed? Things cannot fill our empty places. Things cannot help us to overcome our fears or to fill the voids in our life. Should married couples have separate bank accounts? No, because shared finances provide accountability to us in dealing with those heart and spiritual issues.
#5 In a Christian Marriage More Money Don’t Not Equal More Power
The world value independence and being able to take care of yourself. Shared finances proclaim that your marriage is not two individuals but one flesh-one team. You have each other’s backs, and you are working together toward a common goal.
In the culture of the world, more money equals more power and influence. In the Kingdom of God, this idea is turned on its head over and over again in the New Testament. It should be this way in marriages as well. Just because one spouse makes more money than another spouse, does not mean that they have more say and more sway. Remember, marriage is a team of one flesh pursuing a common Kingdom goal.
In Ephesians 5, we are called to submit to one another in love. Wives are called to submit to their husbands and to respect their husbands. Husbands receive a higher call to love their wife, as much as they love themselves and their own body. If we do this well within a marriage, then no one voice drowns out the other. Instead, a working partnership is created that deepens that love and bonds of marriage.
Instead of Separate Bank Accounts – Invest in Intimacy
One flesh, one bank account, and one purpose – These are the healthy expressions of a biblical Christian marriage. As Christians, we worship a God who is the three in one. God understands community, intimacy, and connectedness. Embrace the accountability that your spouse can provide in being intentional and faithful with how you use your financial resources. When we are united in purpose and direction, God will use you mightily.
Should married couples have separate bank accounts? For Christian couples, the answer is clearly no. However, the next step is not just shared finances on paper, but in practice as well. In many marriages, one spouse or the other handle the books and the bills. To be unified and accountable, the financial vision of the family should be shared. I challenge you to pursue financial intimacy and a shared biblical financial vision with your spouse.