My husband and I have both accepted Jesus as our Savior and try to live according to His word. With that being said, I have been keeping a secret bank account from him because I am scared of the way he handles our finances. We have been married for 4 and 1/2 years now and he has never held a steady job. He has been fired and let go of employment more times than I can count. We are a one income household, but he spends as if we have two incomes. I made him start paying the bills because I thought it would make him more aware of the finances as well as take some pressure off of me. However, he has made several late payments and we have accrued several late charges because of it. When I ask him if he has been applying for jobs or ask him what he has done for the day, he gets extremely defensive and it starts a fight. My husband has been spoiled and therefore does not cook or clean, so I have to make time for those things before or after my job. On top of this, he likes to have nice things so if I receive a bonus, he believes he is entitled to spend that as well. Last year, I wanted to use my bonus at the beginning of the year to pay off the last of our bills and have at least $1000 left over to have as a buffer so we are not living paycheck to paycheck as usual and sometime overdraft. However, when I told him what I think we should do with my bonus, he said he "needed" a new 60 inch TV because it had been a while since he bought one. Meanwhile, we have three nice televisions in the house that all work great. He didn't speak to me for over a week until I gave in to his request. For this reason, I have opened up an emergency savings account to hide money in case anything urgent comes up. Is it wrong to hide this from my husband? I think of the story of Abigail and Nabal and how her defiance of her husband was thought of as wisdom, but I don't want to be wrong. I love my husband, but he is extremely unwise with our finances and it is causing me horrible panic attacks and anxiety. He says he is saved, but I don't actually see any fruit of the Spirit in him. Please help. Thank you so much!
Frustrated, Hurt and Anxious
Dear Frustrated, Hurt and Anxious,
Is it wrong to hide a bank account from your husband? Keeping secrets is not necessarily a sin. Sometimes it is the wise thing to do. Samson was wise to not tell Delilah the source of his strength, and he paid a high price when he did (Judges 16). Rahab did the right thing when she kept the secret that she was hiding the Israelite spies (Joshua 2). But is it wrong to keep a secret from a spouse? You cited Abigail as an example. While it is true that Abigail assisted David and his men without her husband’s knowledge, she told her husband what she had done the following morning after he had sobered up (1 Samuel 25:36-38). Esther kept the fact that she was an Israelite secret from her husband until it became necessary to reveal this to him (Esther 2:10, 7:3-4). Keeping secrets is rarely healthy in a marriage, and keeping financial secrets is especially harmful to a marriage because the other spouse will eventually find out the truth and that will undermine trust. What will happen when your husband finds out that you have a secret bank account?
In a marriage, the two are to become one (Matthew 19:5). Therefore, the ideal situation for finances in a marriage is for both to be fully aware of all assets, obligations, and expenditures, and for purchases to be made by mutual decision. Christians should pay all bills, debts and obligations when due (Romans 12:17). Christians should work to provide for their family and necessities should be paid for before any nonessentials are purchased (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, 1 Timothy 5:8). However, when one spouse is irresponsible with money, the one who is most responsible should be in charge of managing the finances. Even though the husband is the head of the wife and the wife is to be submissive to her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18), there is nothing wrong with the wife being the primary financial manager if she is the one who is more responsible with money. Furthermore, it is not wrong for a wife to make independent financial decisions. The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 did not ask for her husband’s permission to buy real estate or to manage her business independently (Proverbs 31:16, 24), and a married woman was among the women who provided financial support for the needs of Jesus and His disciples (Luke 8:1-3).
Since your husband has a proven record of being irresponsible and mismanaging money, you should be the one in charge of managing the finances for your home. You are the sole wage earner in your family. It is up to you to assure that bills are paid on time, and you are wise to develop a savings account. Your husband spends more than you earn and insists on making unnecessary purchases, but he did not work to earn the money. You did! If he wants to have money to buy his toys, he should get a job and use his own money. (Nothing teaches a person the value of money better than having to work to earn the money to buy the things one wants.) Your husband has a problem with greed and covetousness, and you are supporting it. If your husband had a problem with gambling, would you give him money to take to the casino? If he had a problem with alcohol, would you give him money to buy beer? If he tries to pressure you into giving him money so that he can spend it frivolously, remember that you must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29) and you cannot obey your husband if it means supporting or participating in his sin (Acts 5:1-11).
Here are my suggestions on how to handle your situation:
1. Tell your husband about the savings account. Apologize for not telling him sooner than you did. Explain the reasons that you established the account. Continue to deposit part of your income into this account on a regular basis. Do not allow him to talk you into putting his name on the account too. Reconsider the wisdom of having a joint bank account.
2. Develop a budget with your husband and stick to it.
3. You may need to consult a professional financial planner to assist you with the development of a workable budget and to help impress upon your husband the dangers of his irresponsible spending habits.
4. Take over the responsibility of paying the household bills again.
5. Ask your employer about withholding part of your earnings for savings, such as in a credit union account or a retirement savings account.
None of those suggestions will be easy, so pray before you do anything. Pray a lot. You are in a very precarious position and your husband will be resistant to making any changes. Financial issues are one of the top reasons that couples fight, enter marriage counseling, and end up divorced. That is why it is beneficial to discuss financial issues prior to marriage and why premarital counseling should always address financial management. Please keep me updated and I will be praying for you.