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Faith is essential to your path. Whether it is faith in yourself, or a partner, or a deity. It is essential. But where does it cross a line? When your faith pushes past your sense of personal responsibility, it has all of the sudden tipped the balance, and is no longer a positive driving force. It becomes your shackles.
Let me give you an example of a real situation of the statement above.
A friend of mine was in a great relationship, and it seemed that everything was great. And then her partner got laid-off. He quickly became very accustomed to having her pay for everything, and he didn’t seem super motivated to get a new job. Despite the financial struggles they were starting to have, he was holding out for his dream job. And after asking about how they are doing, they said, we are having some hardship, but God will provide when it is right.
I frequently hear “God will provide” when people are struggling. It is intended to sound empowering, but I see that people give up their power to act, and allows “fate” to decide. You have put your faith so strongly into this, that you have taken away your own ability to assure that it happens. And worse yet, when things come and pass, and you did not get what you wanted, you start to think you were not worthy of it, or worth it. Which allows you to mentally give up. Making your faith, your shackles. God may be providing 5 great job opportunities for you right now, because he feels you need to get into a different field, but they were not even reviewed because they didn’t fit the mold of the “dream job”.
A great quote from Dave Ramsey was this, “God DOES provide, he provides the rain. But you still have to sow the seeds!” This statement is exactly how I feel. Your faith will provide you what you need, but you still have to work to get what you want. Noting that, as a culture, have a hard time telling the difference between our wants and needs.
I have recently started taking note of conversations and interactions around finance, and I have heard many conversations about faith, people, and money. And when you put these three things together, our minds really complicate them, and that is why I thought to write this post. No matter the circumstance, don’t let your faith become your shackles. Take responsibility for your actions and thoughts, and act. Once again, I can give you an example:
During a podcast I was listening to, a woman called in and stated that she was considering getting engaged to someone, but he made half as much as he did, and he was not very invested in actually managing his money responsibly.
From my experience, this is a very common issue. One partner doesn’t see the same value in one thing or another, and money is frequently that thing.
Take a moment to think about what you would do in this situation.
No really, take a moment and think.
Many people would be shocked that the concern was even there, after all, Love will find a way. But can I tell you what I feel the “right” answer is? And note, there are a multitude of situations around everything, so my advice must be somewhat generalized.
Love, is a strong and complicated emotion. And it can often make you not trustworthy to yourself. I would recommend in this situation that you step back, identify the real concern, which is that you are concerned that your potential partner doesn’t know or care how to handle money properly. And you are considering marriage. Which means that your partner will not care about how your finances will be managed together. This is a bad idea.
You need to take responsibility for yourself. How do you remain a strong individual? I know that sounds unromantic, but think about it. How do you remain a strong individual? If your concern is romance, think of this: if you are a strong individual, and you could do without your partner, you get to choose them every day. You are not “stuck” together. Your togetherness is a choice.
Which means that it is actually more romantic to keep your finances separate until you can trust that your partner will be as responsible with your money, as you are. Until then, build a Fuck-You-Fund (A fund of cash that you have access to that allows you to up and leave if you ever feel in danger), and give a fixed number of chances for your partner to come around to your goals.
Now, with that all out there, I need to be honest with you, that I can only say that my wife and I worked within these circumstances because she was lenient with a HIGH-NUMBER of fixed chances. She was brave enough to do what I am asking of you, and she got a lot of grief for it. She refused to marry me until my job offered medical insurance. She was covered under her mother’s insurance at the time, and she was still in college. She was brave enough to put her goals out there and she made them an important part of OUR goals. And if I had said, you should risk not having health insurance to be with me, I would expect her to step back, as I was not the right person for her. But that is not what happened, for a long time now, our relationship is based on us choosing each other, every day.
If you feel that your partner is not trustworthy with money, I strongly advise the following:
1) Be honest and clear about your concerns.
It would sabotage your relationship to hold something this important as a barrier and not give your partner a chance to do something about it.
2) Have a conversation about what each of you require of each other, as part of an agreement, before getting married.
3) Be brave enough to step away, if your partner cannot hear your concerns. It is unfortunately telling of many more things about the relationship.
Money is NOT more important that love, or people. But when you are mixing your life with another person’s, your personal goals and long term well-being ARE more important than love, and other people.
When Love overrides your logical self-preserving fears, you are shackling yourself based on faith of… Your partner? What love should be? The idea of Marriage? You are being shackled by faith.
For this Valentine’s day, I challenge you to look deep into your partner’s eyes and say, “How are we doing on our retirement plan?” Take some time to think about your own financial goals, where you would like to be, take responsibility for your own flaws, and talk about them with your partner. Talk about your concerns for any flaws your partner has around money. And together, move forward with a stronger feeling of togetherness by working to further your goals as a team. Give yourself the gift of choosing your partner every day.