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Joint Account: Why Some Christian Couples Are Not Comfortable

26 April 2015   |   12:00 pm
Biblically, when a man and woman come together as husband and wife, they should become one. “And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate…” (Marks 10:8,9). Along with all else, it is also expected that a Christian couple would share everything and do everything together. Should this also extend to operating a joint account? In cases where the man or woman earns more, is it still advisable to run joint accounts? Clerics, who discussed the issue with CHRIS IREKAMBA, identified lack of trust as one of the reasons Christian couples shy away from operating joint accounts.

couple are not comfortableBiblically, when a man and woman come together as husband and wife, they should become one. “And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate…” (Marks 10:8,9). Along with all else, it is also expected that a Christian couple would share everything and do everything together. Should this also extend to operating a joint account? In cases where the man or woman earns more, is it still advisable to run joint accounts? Clerics, who discussed the issue with CHRIS IREKAMBA, identified lack of trust as one of the reasons Christian couples shy away from operating joint accounts.

We Operate Joint Accounts, Regardless
Of Who Earns More’
(Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Michael Olusina Fape, Bishop, Diocese of Remo,
Sagamu, Ogun State’

A JOINT account is a hotly debated issue among couples. Money is an important resource that generates great interest in the family and society. The way we handle money related-matters is very crucial to the survival of any family. The fact that husband and wife are Christians does not automatically translate to an agreement to operate a joint account. While there are Christian couples that do not operate joint accounts, there are those who are not Christians, but still operate joint accounts successfully.

Couples usually give certain reasons for not wanting to operate a joint account. Firstly, some men are of the opinion that some women are too loose when it comes to spending. They are thus afraid that operating a joint account with such women will be very dangerous to their survival. Secondly, some wives like their independence and operating a joint account may deprive them the freedom of spending their money, as they like, especially if they earn more than their husbands. Thirdly, some wives don’t trust their husbands to guarantee a future for them with regard to the ownership of properties acquired jointly. Questions that often arise include: what if the man should die suddenly? Will the family allow her access to their properties? Or what if the man takes additional wife (or wives) and sends her packing from her matrimonial home? What will be her gain? Has she not lost everything?

Personally, I thank God for my wife of almost 25 years. We both operate joint accounts, regardless of who earns more than the other. We are both signatories to our accounts; and either could make withdrawals on behalf of the other. Our resolve to keep joint accounts is informed by what we know and believe of the scripture in Genesis 2, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:2425).

My wife knows how much I earn, just as I know how much she earns. We are not ashamed to disclose what we earn to each other. Since we keep joint accounts, it is not too difficult to pay the children’s school fees. The buildings were built and owned together. There is a specific amount for food allowance and personal allowance for my wife, from which she can freely give her offerings on Sundays and attend to her very personal needs. We are also able to pay our tithes from a common purse, including the gifts given to us since such are accounted for jointly. Taking care of our family members pose no problems because of the level of trust already established between us. It is our belief that what is good for my family is equally good for her family. I believe the reasons couples run away from operating a joint account may be genuine, based on their experiences. There are couples that started their family life by operating joint accounts, but what they experienced later made them opt out of such. Certainly, it requires trust, integrity and genuine commitment from couples to be able to operate a joint account. Of course, if couples are faithful to each other in money matters, they have won a big battle in their homes, and hardly would anything be able to threaten the foundation and survival of their homes.

‘Most Couples Don’t Trust One Another’
(Rev. (Mrs.) Roselyn Oduyemi, General Overseer, Bethel Worship Centre for all Nations, Lekki, Lagos)

I BELIEVE whatever belongs to the man also belongs to the woman and vice versa. The Bible says “and the two have become one flesh”. They are one flesh and as such, should sit down and decide how their money should be spent, as well as prioritise what the money should be spent on. They are working towards one goal. I think couples should see themselves as one and make God the foundation of their home. And whatever decision they arrive at must be based on the standpoint that they are one, whether the man earns more than the wife and vice versa. The whole thing has to do with covenant before God, as before Him they are one. They must also realise that they are in a covenant relationship and whatever the man does to his wife, he is also doing to himself and vice versa. For example, when the man slaps his wife, it’s himself he is slapping. As one body, whatever decision they take will solidify their relationship. So, they should weigh the decisions that will enhance their family’s growth.

Of course, we have a lot of problem because of mistrust. People don’t trust one another because they don’t understand what covenant entails. Jesus said: “Father, I want them to be one, even as we are one.” That principle of oneness is very important in a relationship, especially marriage. That is the ideal. If a woman has a business, then the man should be a signatory to that account. There are many variables and variants as well. People shouldn’t be hiding things from one another because really there is nothing to hide. Marriage is a relationship of oneness and sincerity. They should sit down and agree on how much they are going to spend; whether on food or school fees. What comes first is how should it be handled? I’m talking about the godly standard, because there are many Christians that run separate accounts. But for couples that know why they are in a marriage, this kind of thing is easy to handle. And you will not hear of mistrust or whatever. Even if the woman earns more money than the man, it would be easy for her to submit and vice versa. So, the man should see his wife as himself and whatever he does, he would treat her with respect. That is the godly standard. Those who do not operate joint account should understand the seriousness of marriage, and this is why marriage is not for babies, but for mature people. It is a commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly because these are issues that will surely come up and it takes a mature mind and deep trust to tackle them. They should go for counselling and read books on marriage. It takes maturity, commitment, trust and humility for people to submit.

‘People Are Clever When It Comes To Money’
(Anthony Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie, Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos

THIS thing ought to have been settled during their courtship before ever they took the decision to be joined in holy matrimony and saying before the congregation “for better and for worse, for sickness and for health…” Most people come into marriage without planning for it. For instance, intending couples don’t discuss issues pertaining to money and materials things. But they should know that these are part of the things they are going to confront in marriage. People are clever when it comes to money, as they try to shy away from it and sideline God. That is why it is always very good and wise for them to sit down and iron things out before the marriage is consummated. The issue of joint account should have been thoroughly discussed with the intending couple asking such questions as: do we really need it and how much of their salary should go into it? Is it everything that is going in, whether the money is got from the corner or in a straightforward manner?

Unfortunately, however, issues as important as this are left undecided. If it is agreed upon that joint account is necessary for the family, there is no problem. It shouldn’t really shake their marriage because they had already said: “for better and for worse.” Anybody wanting to go into a union must be ready for things like this, as it is part of the marriage. As I always tell people, marriage is not just between two people, but three because God is the third person really. You cannot just sideline Him, and whether you marry in the church or through native laws and customs, that third Person is there. If you want your married life to be successful, you must have Him there, as this will help build your marriage. It is selfishness and greed that destroy most marriages today. If there is trust from the beginning, then it is easy for them to do whatever they want to do. But if there is no trust, forget it. In the first place, how are you going to marry a man or woman if you don’t trust him/her? You don’t marry because of beauty or because you want children. That element of trust, which is the basic thing, must be there. That is why there is courtship so that within that time you would have studied your man and vice versa. You have known the man or woman’s likes and dislikes and everything has been factored in before consummation takes place. This is a serious contract that requires commitment and love. But if they are not prepared for this, then they should forget it. This is the man or woman you are going to live the rest of your life with. So, once you have agreed to operate joint account or such thing, it belongs to both of you. You have to agree on how to divide it. Some people I know even asked such questions as the percentage of one’s salary that should go in before they went ahead with it. What is the couple going to use the joint account for? All these are issues that must be settled beforehand. Couples that asked these questions that I know have been successful so far.

It doesn’t matter whether the man or woman earns more. What matters is the trust and love. What if the man becomes the head of state tomorrow, same trust is expected to guide them in their decision. I knew of a woman, a medical doctor, who married a man that happened to be a clerk. The man told her: “in my house you are not a doctor, but Mrs. so and so.” The woman agreed and equally told the husband: “please don’t cheat on me. Trust me and I will also trust you.” They went through all these things and are happy. It is over eight years now and they are still together. The couple should believe that God is in their midst. He is that invisible Hand that brought the union together and will support them. And if they are able to get the basic things correct, the marriage will work. Once this is done, they can then sit down and plan whether they want to have a joint account or not. They should discuss with each other for the children’s sake. As they pray and commit that marriage into the hands of God, He will help them to succeed.

‘If Partners Truly Love Each Other, They Can Own Joint Account’
(Pastor Ezekiel Joel, Full Salvation Believers’ Assembly International, Anambra State)

THE issue of joint account by married couples has become an increasingly sensitive matter, if not contentious. But ordinarily, where there is genuine love and understanding, it is a sweet and harmless idea, which married Christian couples should embrace. But in marriages where self-centeredness rules, and suspicion or lack of trust is the order of the day, it is a no-go area.

ldeally, in marriages characterised by trust, love and understanding, it becomes easy to operate joint account for the benefit of all the parties. Those who have been operating joint account in an atmosphere of love, trust and understanding and the mind of Christ have found it a safety valve against so many vices and acrimony that is the lot of some families arising from money management troubles. Biblically, a married Christian man has become one flesh with his legally married wife (Gen.2: 24, 24; Matt.19: 4-6). These scriptures indicate openness in all matters relating to the marriage without feeling ashamed. It doesn’t matter how much each partner earns or who is receiving the fattest pay. If both partners truly love and trust each other, there is nothing to hide, or be afraid of concerning their income. But, in this end time, when “men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous…traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…”(2 Tim.3: 1-5), keeping a joint account becomes an outlandish subject. But if the idea is embraced by God’s grace, the advantages are numerous for the partners, their kids and relatives.

In case of death, no partner will be seriously disadvantaged. To operate joint account, by honest couples, is not cumbersome. First, each partner is allowed to remove and pay his or her tithe. Second, a certain percentage of the remaining amount (of the salary) is allowed for personal use. Third, an agreed percentage is remitted to the joint account for the educational needs of the kids. The remainder is left to take care of extended family and other social needs. This way, there will be no stress, if both partners understand and practise prudent financial budgeting. Joint account can release couples from financial stress and make marriage something to be enjoyed rather than endured. But this is only possible; if Jesus Christ is truly the Lord and Saviour of the couples, and they are both mature.

‘Trust Is Important If They Should Hold
A Joint Account’

(His Eminence Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN)

IF they should hold a joint account, there are two ways of operating it. One, for any withdrawal to be made two of them must sign. The other is based on serious trust, where any of the two can withdraw maybe when the other partner travels and the mandate had been given to the bank. As to what they use the money for, it must be based on agreement. No one takes money without informing the other, unless they agree on minimum withdrawal at any point in time. They should agree on how much should go for food, house maintenance, payment of bills/schools fees and such things. They should map out everything because an unplanned life is a hopeless and useless one. There must be harmony and sincerity at all times, as these are important in marriage. Even if the man earns more than the wife or vice versa, it doesn’t matter. Even if the wife is not working, the money the man brings belongs to the couple. If the proportion of consumption is one to 10, the money is for the couple. Nobody owns it more than the other. That is the Christian understanding of marriage. The money should be based on agreement on both sides. Nobody owns the money, if it is a joint account or joint ownership.

During marriage counseling, I usually give intending couples options. There are couples that may agree and decide that madam of the house should keep certain percentage as her salary, while father of the house keeps certain percentage as his and sometimes they share responsibilities. I have seen a family that decided that the father should look after the training of the children and food, while the wife should be saving for their building and I know they’ve built a bungalow. They did it without struggling because it was based on agreement and they have good jobs and so they can agree and share responsibilities.
Sometimes, however, there are two accounts. The man maintains a little account, while the wife also maintains one of hers, but then there will be projects accounts jointly run by the two. So, there are many methods in marriage but the Bible says, “the man and woman were naked and they did not feel ashamed.” This means openness, transparency, honesty and integrity. Those things are very important in marriage, as it actually solidifies affection and metamorphosises into genuine love for one another.

‘Joint Account Is Good Depending On The Couple’s Understanding’
(Pastor Faith Charis Ajala, Lead Pastor, Special Treasure Covenant Church, Lagos)

A JOINT account is good depending on understanding and I know that love is above every other thing. When there is genuine love, it could be agreed upon and arranged. When there is transparency, no hanky-panky and there is no one trying to deceive the other, it could be worked out. But I have not seen any one around me who is operating that way. Though I wish I could but it’s over now. I can’t do that again. You know a Christian marriage entails everything. If there is genuineness and faithfulness, if people can just agree on whatsoever they want to do and stand by it, it’s workable. I have read it in books. Understanding is what it takes, as well as genuineness of purpose and sincerity of heart.

I dissociate myself from the school of thought that says a man is meant to be richer than the woman. Whoever God blesses should pay the children’s school fees and share responsibilities. But everything boils down to genuine understanding. It’s not that the husband must not perform his responsibilities, but in the case where he can’t pay the children’s school fees and the woman has the money, why shouldn’t she pay it? I have been a product of such — paying school fees, assisting and doing it alone. If I see a couple that I can mentor, I believe one of the things I will sell out to them is that they can do all things together. If Christ is binding you together, you can make it work. The Holy Spirit will lead you as what to do, it wouldn’t be a problem and nobody will be grumbling. Couples shouldn’t listen to what others are saying.

Love is the basis of everything and I don’t see any mountain that love cannot bring down. If God gives you the right man from the beginning it can be possible.

On how will they pay tithe, children’s schools fees, since they know the amount that comes in, they should be able to manage it. And this is why there should be transparency because if anybody is hiding anything, it won’t work. And if even the man or woman earns more, it doesn’t matter. What the Bible says about marriage is that wives should obey their husbands and husbands should love their wives. It has nothing to do with finance, so if the woman is richer, oh, great! I know a woman, who is acclaimed to be the richest in Nigeria for now. She is the richest black woman in the world. I have known the husband during our university days. He is not richer but they are coping and the marriage is thriving. They have five children, but though God has raised the woman, they are still together and money has not separated them. If there is no conviction, you can’t go into this deal. It is not something you can do by the flesh. They must have planned for it before they go into marriage. The flesh can never allow that kind of arrangement. It should have been their desire before even they were joined together.