The eighth in our series of counseling case studies.
DEAR PASTOR: My husband is getting us into a lot of debt. He refuses to go on a budget or let me handle the money. He spends his money on things such as a new truck, expensive suits, and power tools. He often treats his friends to lunch at expensive restaurants but says he can't afford to take me out. His credit card debt is approaching $10,000. He claims to be a Christian but rarely gives his money to the church. The kids and I get the leftovers, which isn't much. I am thinking of getting a job so that I will have some money for clothes and things for the kids. But he already has plans for my income. He has forbidden me to talk to our pastor about this. Does the bible have anything to say about this'? Is a wife allowed to have her own money'?
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Counseling Case Study 8
ANSWER: First of all your husband has no right to “forbid” you to talk to your pastor. When you became a wife, you did not surrender your rights and privileges as a church member or citizen of this state. You have not only a right to discuss this with your pastor; you have a responsibility to do so. Your husband has made certain covenants with you and the church that he is not living up to. It is the job of the church to provide him the “care and discipline” it has agreed to provide when he became a member. The church must address his failures as a husband and a church member, and soon.
In the book of Exodus we have listed three obligations that a man must meet in order to make a marriage. “If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money (she keeps the dowry)” Exodus 21:10-11. A willful failure to meet these needs puts a man perilously close to being guilty of deserting his wife, even though he may still be living at home. Desertion by an unbeliever in I Corinthians 7:15 is grounds for a divorce. Now, I am not suggesting divorce, just demonstrating the perilous state your husband is in. Divorce is a terrible option and should be considered only after all other options have been addressed, and only then if biblical criteria exist for one.
“Is the wife allowed to have her own money?” Yes. The model wife of Proverbs 31 had her own money to use as she pleased. In the bible, men paid a dowry to obtain their wife. In Genesis 29:18 Jacob did so to obtain Rachel and Leah but notice their response to their father, Labon, when he kept the dowry for himself, “…but he has used up what was paid for us. Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children” Genesis 31.14-15. They properly understood that this was their property and the property of their children. Again note, that a wife abused and divorced was to “go out without money” Exodus 21:11. This means she did not have to pay back the dowry that was paid to her in the marriage. So, a wife can have her own property.
Now all this is not to say that it is generally best for husbands and wives to keep their monies separate from each other, I don’t believe it is. However, under the unusual circumstances that you have described, it no doubt is necessary.
Your situation is difficult. You must aggressively pursue the church’s intervention in this case. It is not going to get better of itself. Your husband is squandering the resources and future of his family. Financial ruin is just around the corner. You must act with haste.
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