It’s Not Just about the Money

imageDear Christian Counselor,

I’ve been married 26 years. I’ve always handled the finances with very little input from my husband. I’ve quit my job to take care of my Gma full time, his idea, and am not receiving a paycheck. Our daughter is ready for college, but he refuses to sit down and talk about anything to do with money. He’s out of town during the week and comes home on the weekends. He’s been helping his brother with our money but finally quit that. He loves to play the slots and scratch offs. I keep telling him we do not have money to spend like that. He went and got two loans for cash 6 months ago and I found out by accident. The non-communication is killing our marriage. I feel like I don’t have a choice cuz he’s the only one with money coming in. I feel like he does and says what he wants cuz he knows there’s not a thing I can do. Help!

 


Dear No Choice,

How exhausting! You have so much happening all at once. It is heartbreaking to read. The first thing I wondered when reading your question was, “Does she have any type of support system?” This is certainly a time to rely on your friends, relatives, and church group for prayer, emotional support, and help navigating these issues. This is not a road to walk alone.

I also highly recommend counseling, even if your husband will not attend with you. Your questions highlight sadness, worry, frustration, loneliness, and feeling helpless. It would be beneficial for a counselor to screen you for anxiety and/or depression. I also wonder if your husband is struggling with an addiction given what you’ve said about disconnection, taking out cash loans, and lottery tickets.

Money is one of the largest topics of dispute among married couples. Because the deeper nature of this dispute is less about money and more about anxiety and control, it is easy to see why couples disagree. Money is never just about money. It is both sad and hopeful to point out that financial issues are merely the tip of the iceberg. My guess is that there is much more happening beneath the surface for you both. A counselor can help you explore the history of your marriage, your personal histories, and how you two took on the roles that you are currently playing in your relationship.

Lastly, there are some red flags in your letter that concern me. If you were my client, I would advise you to consider talking with a financial manager. It might also be a good idea to consider meeting with a social worker who can help you make decisions about your daughter’s education and your grandmother’s health. Alleviating some of these stressors might give you more space to heal as you address the aforementioned marital problems.

This is probably not an easy response to receive. Let me encourage you in the promise of hope. The Gospel teaches that no pain is ever wasted and nothing is beyond God’s redemption. May you know the shepherding presence of Jesus as you walk this valley and may you know a marriage better than what you could dream of.

— Jessica

Old Habits

Conquering Addiction One Step at a Time


Syringe and drugs with out of focus female addict

Dear Christian Counselor,

 

I’ve asked Jesus to be my Savior, and I have the Holy Spirit in my heart. But I still give in to my addictions daily. Is it possible to be a Christian and a drug addict?

 

Bird


Dear Bird,

 

I am not at all surprised to hear that as a new believer you are giving in to your addictions. I did. It is a process, and being born again is just the beginning. You already are a new creation in Christ, and now you are in the process of living that out. Jesus Christ is a joy greater than our addictions. He is our Creator, our redeemer, someone who, by living in us, makes us righteous. He has already started you on this path. He is our greater desire, and He is able and faithful to give us what we need. As humans we were created to be dependent so that we would become attached to God. However we settle for lesser gods that do not satisfy or have the power to deliver. Ed Welch says in his addiction workbook called Crossroads, “Addicts know the deeper reality that life is set up according to kingdoms. Addicts know that there isn’t one square inch of neutral territory. Everyone is on their way to one kingdom or the other: for God or against Him. The central question is, Who will I worship? Who will I bow to?” Romans 6:19 says, “I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.”

 

Change will come, and you may be tempted to give up. If you take yourself out of the battle, the addiction will win. So start asking for help. Find someone in the body of Christ who can disciple you or a good Christian counselor who understands addictions. Find a group like Celebrate Recovery where you will find an accepting community of fellow strugglers. I’d also recommend reading the first nine chapters of Proverbs. We all will continue to sin as believers; however, God is doing a new work in you, changing the desires of your heart toward Him and not toward your addiction.

 

I personally know this road well and know how hard it can be; but I also testify that every inch moved in the direction of Christ is so very worth it. You will find the satisfaction and purpose in life with the Lord that you are looking for.

 

~Karen


Related Articles:

On Being a Struggler

Why Christians Make Miserable Addicts –Huffington Post

Our Free Handout, “What Do I Do Now?”

Baby Steps

First stepsDear Christian Counselor,

How do we gain confidence?

Bob Wiley (pseudonym)


Dear Bob,

The short answer is: step by step. Confidence is the result of small victories strung together until you believe you can overcome the next challenge. It can be built into us as children, it can even come as the result of one great triumph, but in most cases it is grown gradually over time by doing the things we fear and seeing God’s faithfulness in our weakness.

what about bobThis is a project you can intentionally undertake. Start by finishing this sentence: “I would like to have confidence that I ____________________.” Next, make a list of five to ten smaller steps leading up to that goal. For example, if you want to have confidence that you can be a marine biologist, you might start by reading a book about fish or by keeping a goldfish in a bowl. (“Baby steps, Bob.”)

The second piece of the puzzle is developing good coping mechanisms to help you along the way. It’s not about getting rid of your fear first; it’s about doing life despite your fear.  What are the healthy things which renew your spirit and courage both before and after you take on the next challenge? Think along the lines of phoning a friend, taking a hot bath, using properly prescribed medication, listening to music, deep-breathing, or spending time in prayer. I usually ask my clients to make a list of ten good things which comfort, restore or inspire them. Then as you start to mount the steps on your “confidence ladder,” use your healthy coping skills to combat the natural setbacks or fears you are trying to overcome. I would strongly advise enlisting the support and prayer of a good friend on this journey. May God give you the vision and the courage to become everything He has dreamed for you.

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6)