This week we are celebrating generosity with our friends Cherie and Brian Lowe’s new book, Your Money, Your Marriage, with a series of posts all about the sexiness of financial freedom. The book is absolutely fantastic, and we hope you check it out today. Enjoy the post!
How Generosity TOGETHER Can Transform Your Marriage
After a long day of work and family life, Brian and I found ourselves standing in line at the grocery store. We were two parts hungry and one part worn out – never a good combination for spending money. In all honesty, shared annoyance ran high as we placed our items on the long conveyor belt leading to the store clerk. It was one of those reality marriage days, when each and every small habit of your spouse grates the nerves.
Did Brian really have to breathe that loud?
And then we saw him. The older gentleman seemed too feeble to even be pushing a cart. He wore a Veteran hat and an active duty jacket spelling out the times and locations he served during wartime. We shared a knowing glance. Without a single word, I knew what Brian was about to do.
All of the sudden, his breathing didn’t really annoy me anymore. In fact, as I watched the man I deeply love reach for his wallet, my heart fluttered with joy and excitement. Time slowed down as Brian approached the man.
“Excuse me sir, we’d like to pay for your groceries today to thank you for your service.”
The flabbergasted man stared back in disbelief. “Really?” he asked.
“Yes,” Brian explained. “We’re so grateful for your sacrifice. We’d like to do this one small thing for you.”
We chatted with the man for a few minutes after paying for his cartful. All three of us stood in the sacking area of our grocery store talking about the weather and the lovely simple things in life.
“You know,” the man said as he walked away, “No one said or did anything nice for me when I returned from Vietnam. They called me horrible names.”
Tears welled in my eyes and I responded, “I am so sorry that happened. I know you are loved. I’m glad we had the chance to remind you today.”
Together, Brian and I loaded the groceries into the car realizing what had started as a necessary inconvenience provided an opportunity for us to step into a small miracle together. A man who had once been taunted with cruel words for merely serving his country took home his milk, eggs, and other groceries that day without paying. However, we prayed he knew just how loved he was, too – by God and by us.
Six Years Ago, This Was Impossible
Shared generosity is a hobby for us as a married couple. Sometimes it takes the form of tipping more than the original bill at a restaurant. Other days, we write checks to short term and long term missionaries. We’ve purchased groceries and necessities. We’ve donated to relief organizations and bought gifts for people we didn’t know. We’ve handed large envelopes of cash to soon-to-be newlyweds.
However, the practice of giving together only resulted from a bottoming out in our marriage. In the spring before our tenth anniversary, we came to an agreement about our finances. They were a mess and so were we. Generosity wasn’t an option when you could barely make minimum payments. No matter how much our hearts longed to give, there wasn’t enough breathing space to make it an option.
Together, we decided to dive into the journey of paying off all of our consumer debt. It was a battle we thought would occupy 15 years of our lives. However, we’re grateful God does much better math than we do. Just under four years later, we found ourselves on the other side of paying off $127,482.30. It was nothing short of a miracle.
Life After Debt
After paying off the huge sum, one of our first objectives was to begin giving more. In fact, one of the primary motivating factors for paying off that enormous amount arose from questions Brian asked to prompt our life and heart changes toward money.
How would our lives look different if we weren’t sinking so much money toward payments and interest every stinking month?How would our family’s future look? Where would we go? What would we do? Probably most important, who would we give that money to? And how would the kingdom of God change as a result?
Together we agreed upon a set percentage we would place in account that went above and beyond the giving we did at our church. We called this our “Generous Fund.” We watched with excitement as its total grew and God provided opportunities for us to both make deposits and withdrawals from the account.
Happily Ever After
Paying off debt didn’t make our marriage magically become perfect. We still daily work toward communicating well when it comes to our finances and our romance. We’re both human after all and bound to make (numerous) mistakes.
However, the regular practices we gained of talking over our purchases, remaining in the loop when it comes to bills, and refining our goals for the future created a wide open space in our marriage. We were finally able to breathe and to be generous together. We don’t worry about choosing whether or not to we’ll buy our groceries or give – there’s always space for both.
We held hands for a moment in the car before driving home. What a joy to know we’d both just been a part of something much greater than either one of us. God had used the opportunity to not just provide a need for someone else or daily bread, but He had also spoken through our words and lives to calm over decades worth of hurt. We knew in that instance while the journey of paying off debt gave us peace about our finances and a sweetness in our relationship, it was about much more than us.
Each time we give together, our hearts draw closer to each other. We sense a renewed significance and purpose when it comes to our relationship. We gain the thrill of making a difference through the money God has called us to manage – together. We’re overwhelmed with gratitude to be a small step in the plan toward redemption and reconciliation in what seems to be a hopeless world.
In the midst of generosity, our personal animosities and annoyances slip away as we bind not just our bodies and our budgets but our souls, too.
To discover more about how to get more Financial Foreplay action in your marriage, visit YourMoneyYourMarriage.com and check out Your Money, Your Marriage: The Secrets to Smart Finance, Spicy Romance, and Their Intimate Connection.