Should Men Handle the Finances in a Marriage?

by Van Richards , Christian Examiner Contributor |

From the time of Adam and Eve, till the 20th century, men had the role of provider and handled the money in most Christian families. As society has changed in recent years, more and more married women work and share the responsibility of providing for their families. Now that most two-parent families have both the husband and wife working, should married couples still follow the tradition of having the man manage household finances?

The Bible does give direction on how a husband and wife should interrelate. This includes how they should respect each other when it comes to money. However, scripture is clouded by misunderstanding and the progression of society. The New Testament was written a little over two-thousand years ago, and since then, within a comparatively short period of time, nations have gone from centuries of dependence on agriculture, then to industrial society, and now even into developing space age technology.

At the turn of the century, women's functions in societies began to take on a new direction as women in Europe and the United States started to play integral roles during World War II. With so many men waging war in the 1940s, it was necessary for women to take care of their families and work in factories, too. As our country progressed into the 1950s, the gender roles of marriage began to change. For example, on black and white television in 1952, Lucille Ball became one of the first working women to portray her real-life pregnancy as part of the TV series (Oppenheimer, Davis & Asher, 1952). As color television became popular, the family roles of men and women in society began to evolve even more. Now, instances of married women working outside of the home, plus taking care of raising children, have become a regular part of our culture. Meanwhile, men have more actively established roles in parenting their children.

Yet, with all these cultural changes, and as husbands and wives have become increasingly equal in societies, the millennia-old biblical scripture describing describes how family members should coexist still applies today. In Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he tells the readers that women should submit to their husbands. To some in today's world, the word "submit" is read as "dominate." If you read the scripture and think that Paul meant that men were to dominate women, that is an incorrect understanding. I would suggest that you read verse 33 first: "So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." This verse matches with the words of Jesus in the Book of Matthew, "Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together" (Matthew 19:6 NLT).

Love and respect are the key words here. Husbands are to love their wives and wives are to respect their husbands. There are differences between men and women beyond anatomy. In most (not all) instances, women have more of a nurturing instinct and are more pragmatic than men. In most (not all) situations, men are more prone to be risk takers and spontaneous. If you believe that this is the way that God made men and women, you may also see the relationship that Paul is referring to when he says that men must love their wives and women must respect their husbands.

This brings us back to the central question posed at the beginning of this story: should men make the decisions about family finances? In the book Master Your Money by Ron and Michael Blue, the authors state that one of the most important questions a Christian married couple can ask of themselves when borrowing money is, "Do my spouse and I have unity about taking on this debt?"  Conversely, in Howard Dayton's book, Money and Marriage God's Way, Dayton states, "discuss decisions you are making as a couple. Then allow him [the man] to make the final decisions for the family." After twenty-eight years of marriage to the love of my life, I lean more towards Mr. Blue's statement: do my wife and I have unity in major money decisions?

Here is how I arrive at this conclusion. The Bible says a woman should respect her husband. She can do this by supporting her husband and encouraging him. The Bible also says a man should love his wife. He can do this by supporting her and encouraging her. The two roles are so similar that it makes Jesus' words more relevant, "Since they are no longer two but one..." (Matthew 19:6 NLT). If you talk about your financial issues lovingly and respectfully, you should be able to arrive at a decision as one married couple.

Here is a simple technique you can use as you strive to communicate better with your spouse and follow God's intentions for marriage and money. On your computer or smartphone, do a word search of the Bible for the words "one another" or "each other." While reading the passages, substitute your spouse's name into the places where the lines read "one another" or "each other." Here are a few examples:

Let us not become conceited, or provoke "one another" or be jealous of "one another" (Galatians 5:26 NLT).

And further, submit to "one another" out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21 NLT).

Instead, be kind to "each other," tenderhearted, forgiving "one another," just as God through Christ has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32 NLT).

There are many other passages that you can use as you go about this exercise. I would suggest that married couples find a few passages like this on a weekly basis and read them together, putting each other's name into the verse. Reading these Bible verses together in this way will help you get to the point where you are not concerned about who is making the money decisions. It will help you make better money decisions together.

– Van Richards is a Christian financial advisor as well as the founder of and Van draws from his 30 years as a financial advisor to write about financial issues from a Christian perspective. You can contact him at

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