Tyrone and Lydia* have been dating for two years. He is a steel worker in a blue collar town and Lydia is a physician. The couple met through mutual friends and their relationship has blossomed. They both are Christians and are very active in their respective churches. The couple contacted me to assist them with premarital counseling. They want to fine tune any concerns regarding their upcoming engagement.
Tyrone and Lydia both feel that money is a concern and that it is factor in the relationship. Tyrone makes under six figures per year and Lydia makes well over seven figures per year. The couple has been arguing about who will pay for the new home, and also provisions for Tyrone’s two sons. Lydia thinks that it is not her responsibility to pay for them to have the lifestyle that she is accustomed to having. Tyrone thinks that in marriage the two become one in every aspect, including finances. Tyrone feels that Lydia is looking for a partner and not a husband. Lydia has no children and is very independent.
Should They Invest in This Relationship?
Lydia admitted she is afraid to trust because of her last relationship and that her last boyfriend was only interested in what she could provide for him. She admitted she is stuck in the past and is holding Tyrone hostage with her insecurities and feelings. Lydia requested counseling to find help with her feelings and her relationship with Tyrone.
Tyrone stated he seeks God’s counsel daily and does not want to have another failed marriage. His first wife was unfaithful and he was scarred deeply by her indiscretion. With Christian counseling for the past three years he is in a better emotional place in his life. He continues to pray and fast for wisdom. He relies heavily on his faith in God and his total desire is to please God. They have both made a commitment not to be sexually active and to remain celibate until marriage. He stated he would rather stop investing his time and heart in Lydia rather than continue to invest in her if their relationship is hopeless.
First, Lydia must decided what she wants from herself and from the relationship. Secondly, she must reconcile whether the finances are the real concern, or whether her fears and insecurities from her previous relationship are. Thirdly, I believe the question of whether she can approach the financial situation as a joint effort, not a separate effort, is a real concern. Tyrone and Lydia realize that they cannot move forward if these issues are not resolved.
Financial Concerns Cause Relationship Stress
Many couples spend hours arguing about what they feel matters, but at the end the day, it all points back to the lack of trust, respect and open communication. Family finance is one of the major causes of divorce. Disagreement over finances can tear apart the lining of of the relationship when one spouse may not be employed, or not contributing enough. Or one spouse may believe “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours,” an unrealistic and selfish way of thinking. The Bible states upon marriage, the two become one, Genesis 2:24.
Finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship, according to a survey of people in a relationship or partnership released by SunTrust Bank. Some 35 percent of all respondents experiencing relationship stress said money was the primary cause of friction. (Annoying habits came in second, at 25 percent.) Among respondents with relationship stress aged 44 to 54, 44 percent said money was the primary cause.
“Money really touches everything. It impacts people’s lives,” said Emmet Burns, brand marketing director for SunTrust.
Prenuptial Agreement Covers More Than Money
Lydia feared that if the marriage fails, Tyrone would be legally entitled to portions of her property. “I do not want her money but only her love and respect,” he said to me during their session.
“I may not bring seven figures to the marriage, but I bring something you can’t put a price on: friendship, advice, companionship, spiritual leadership and love,” Tyrone said. “How ridiculous does it sound for me to hold back on friendship, protection, love, and companionship and when we get married I’ll hold back sex? Do we sign a prenup on those concerns because it may not work?”
Tyrone told Lydia that she is only looking at the tangible things and that she is not ready for marriage. She said she never looked at the situation through those lenses and she apologized to Tyrone. She told him she values what he brings to the table, acknowledging that it is priceless.
Work it Out
Lydia and Tyrone both stated that they want to marry one another and they love each other. They will continue counseling to help resolve the concerns and Lydia will receive individual counseling for her fears about sharing her finances in her future marriage.
*All names and locations have been changed to protect privacy.