There is growing tendency in newly married couples to stay independent financially, socially and emotionally. This is cause for great concern. Let me explain…
When we said, I Do, we were committing to a new way of life. We were declaring we were no longer “me”, but “we” and the way we do this is by merging our individualism into our union as one flesh.
In our finances
It is an important demonstration of trust to have a joint checking account. I have heard some say, “But then I can’t buy any surprise gifts for my spouse.” Tom and I have learned to either save cash as we can for those special gifts. Or we tell the other to not look at the checkbook until such and such a date. It is possible to work around it, and what it costs to not share your finances in regards to secrecy and lack of trust, makes it not worth it in our opinion. And here is the opinion of a qualified expert in regard to finances, Dave Ramsey.
I remember one year when we were on a very tight budget, living paycheck to paycheck, there was no extra money, at least that’s what Tom thought. Every week when I bought groceries I would save an extra $5 or $10 and put it away in a jar in our son’s closet. I also had garage sales where I was able to hide some of the money and add it to my stash. I did this for an entire year. By December I had saved $450 in cash and was able to surprise Tom with a new stereo system for Christmas.
The look on his face when he opened it revealed his fear that I had charged it. When I explained it was completely paid for, he was shocked! Then he wanted to know how I had found that kind of money. It was so much fun to tell him all I had done to make this happen. This spoke volumes to him of my desire to bless him in a way having separate checkbooks never could.
Don’t avoid the hard times for often those become our best memories.
In social events
When you are asked to go and do something with family or friends excluding your spouse, that should be a red flag to you! First of all, if you want to go and do without your spouse, why? When you said you were committing your life to your spouse until death parted you, that meant saying no to your old normal. You are no longer two, but one. It’s important to act like it.
Second of all, you are declaring to your old way of life that your new way of life is a priority to you. You have an enemy who wants nothing more than your marriage to fail, making a mockery of your vows. Be on guard and fight this drift to individualism.
Thirdly, your may be throwing little darts at your spouse’s heart. They may not tell you that, but if they are honest it most likely hurts that you are choosing to be selfish in planning your social time.
Of course, I am not saying you can never do anything without your spouse at your side. What I’m talking about is choosing time with others over spending quality time with your spouse on a regular basis. Marriage takes time to cultivate, especially when you are first married. The best thing that happened to Tom and me when we were newlyweds was we moved to another city far away from our old normal. We had no choice but to cling to each other, even when we had a fight. We had no one else to talk except each other. I didn’t like it at the time, but we were laying a solid foundation of WE that has supported us through all kinds of difficulty.
And living this way has huge benefits that you may not realize until it’s too late. Consider C.S. Lewis’ experience…
C.S. Lewis’s wife, Joy Davidman, died of bone cancer on July 13, 1960. The next day, the famous author wrote a letter to Peter Bide, the priest who had married them, to tell him the news.
“I’d like to meet,” Lewis writes, suggesting the two grab lunch sometime soon. “For I am—oh God that I were not—very free now. One doesn’t realize in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy is to be tied.”
Don’t avoid each other when in conflict, lean in and grow stronger together.
In our emotions
As a single I never had anyone with whom I could confide my deepest feelings. I had friends but none who really knew me, which was mostly my fault. When Tom entered my life, he was the first who really pursued me emotionally. He would ask questions and actually listened as I answered. It was unnerving, yet comforting at the same time. I was learning to trust him with my emotions and every time I thought he was going to think I was silly, he loved me all the more. I got to see up close how Christ loves me and I have never been the same.
I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to switch my emotional dependence from life-long friends to Tom. But I am here to say you can do it. Not that you have to shun your old friends, but you must let them know that your spouse is first in your heart and emotions. To share things with them before your share with your spouse is wrong. Don’t do it! It may feel uncomfortable, it may take extreme self-control, but this in a part of honoring them as the most important relationship in your life.
Helpful posts from Gary Thomas on How Men and Women think differently:
All three of these temptations to independence are the primary ways God helps us grow more intimately together as husband and wife. No wonder the enemy of our souls chooses to go after them.
In which of these three ways are you being tempted to drift in your marriage? We encourage you to seek help. Years from now you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll have a strong foundation on which to stand to help others.
Are you all in?