The Money Trap

Mike Mazzalongo

As the title suggests, this chapter is about money. This is a very important issue in marriage. People have different attitudes about how to handle money when they commit to a marriage.

Some researchers have found that money issues are responsible for up to 70% of marital conflict.

There are many reasons for this:

The "conflict" in a relationship over money usually centers around 2 main factors:

The way we use or "misuse" money is based largely on these two factors. If our earning power can supply our lifestyle there is no problem. However, if our earning power cannot supply our lifestyle then this will create problems that will produce pressure within all of our relationships - especially our marriages.

This financial pressure is the result of what I call the Money Trap.

The Money Trap and how it works

Before we have any earning power (trade, vocation, business experience or training) our concepts of lifestyle (how we ought to live) are being formed by external and internal forces.

A. External Forces

  1. How our parents lived, their attitude towards money and what we were taught about these things.
  2. Easy credit.
    • Most powerful external force today.
    • Did not exist 50 years ago (ease of it).
    • Exchanging future work for goods now.
    • On a consumer level not as widespread as now.
  3. Abundance and variety of merchandisers and merchandise.

B. Internal Forces (negative)

  1. Greed - never having enough.
  2. Jealousy - wanting what others have
  3. Pride - competing with others
  4. Laziness - gaining without effort
  5. Lack of self control - impulse and luxury buying
  6. Selfishness - interest in one's own needs

C. The Trap

Here's how the trap gets sprung.

  1. Our society bombards us via media images of the ideal lifestyle. The media creates for us the style it says we deserve, we should have and, if not properly trained in money management, we believe it! The code words appeal to our inward forces by saying - you deserve the best, get it now, it's easy, be the first, be the only, etc. Day after day, after day.
  2. Goods are made accessible everywhere to provide this ideal lifestyle, and merchandizers make it easy to respond (pick up the phone and dial).
  3. Easy credit makes all of these things available to everyone - even those who cannot afford it - and these are the ones that are caught in the trap! These are the people who spend more than they earn.

The best examples are the people caught in the housing breakdown in the United States in the last few years. These forces working together create a vicious cycle - we see, we want and easy credit enables us to get it.

The slogan for our society should be "Get it with Credit!"

I'm not against a strong economy, an efficient network of merchandising and distribution as well as a banking system that allows us to use credit as a tool for establishing our homes and businesses. The point I'm trying to make here is that in order to avoid being crushed in this system of ours, we need to realize that our lifestyle should be based on our earning power, not on how our parents lived, how we would like to live, how the TV says we should live, how our friends live - but on our earnings. A very sobering thought indeed.


Society, combined with internal and external forces, creates the image of a lifestyle we think we should have. We believe this ideal and instead of basing our lifestyle on our own earning power - we use easy credit to obtain the lifestyle we think we should have.

So we get into debt and debt causes pressure in relationships.

Financial pressure has many symptoms.

Pressure of this kind can easily destroy a relationship.

Solutions for the Money Trap

There are many financial advisors and plans, but you need to be careful not to make matters worse. Not all financial solutions are equal.

A. Bad Solutions (defined as animals)

1. The ostrich solution

2. The chicken solution

3. The parakeet solution

4. The horse solution

5. The spider solution

Like the Black Widow who eats its mate, eliminate the seeming cause of the problem - your partner (divorce). This doesn't eliminate the problem, it merely creates more problems and more debts. There is no such thing as a budget divorce.

Most people who are continually in financial trouble are so because they refuse to base their lifestyle on their salaries and then when they are in the trap, they get deeper into it by using some of the poor solutions I've just mentioned.

B. Good Solutions

There are good problem solving methods for financial difficulties.

1. Establish your style of living based on your current earning power, not your future. In this way you will have a better chance to be free from debt and the financial pressure that comes with it (Proverbs 22:7).

If we could learn this we would be free. "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." This practice is not easy, it requires:

For men the trick is to be realistic about what they truly can afford to buy and for women the true challenge of submission is to respect and live within their husband's (or the primary earner's) earning power.

2. Another good problem solving technique for financial stress, aside from living within your earning power, is to establish priorities for the way you will spend the money you do have!

Give the first portion to God.
(Proverbs 3:9-10; 11:24; Luke 12:34)

When you give the first portion to God:

When you do this you express your trust in Him to provide. Credit limits are not financial protection. God is financial protection! Psalms 37:25

Establish a reasonable budget in order to manage the rest of your income wisely, not forgetting to provide for your family.


If you spend more than you earn, you are in debt and debts cause pressure, especially in marriage relationships. There are positive and negative ways of dealing with this pressure. You can ignore it, try to escape it, try to increase your workload or divorce your partner. All of which will cause more problems. You can exercise honesty, self-control and contentment, and live within your means.

This can be done. You begin by:

This is good advice for those who don't want to be caught in the Money Trap!