Q&A with Art Rainer
The Marriage Challenge
What inspired you to write The Marriage Challenge?
We all see the statistics on marriage and money. To put it plainly, they are pretty dire. Money is consistently pointed to as a reason for marital strife.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Your money was meant for more. Your marriage was meant for more. Money doesn’t have to be an area of stress, but an area of celebration for couples. And it doesn’t have to be an overly complex journey to get there. Any couple can do it. The Marriage Challenge was written to help couples experience oneness in marriage, money, and mission.
Why is money such a volatile topic of conversation in life, and particularly in marriage?
The same reason why God weaves throughout the Bible over 2,000 verses about money and possessions. It is the same reason why Jesus spoke on money more than any other topic while on earth. The way we think about and use money reveals our heart and its priorities. So conversations about money are rooted in something much deeper and more personal than dollars and cents.
Likewise, marital arguments about money tend to be symptomatic of deeper, underlying issues. In The Marriage Challenge, we consider four Marriage Dividers that often reveal themselves in our financial arguments. Poor communication, selfishness, distrust, and unrealistic expectations can find their way into a marriage’s finances. Couples should recognize the presence of these Marriage Dividers and set out to destroy them.
You said in this book—and in your previous book, The Money Challenge—that God has a design for money. What is that design?
God designed us not to be hoarders but conduits through which His generosity flows. God owns everything, and He gives us His stuff to advance His Kingdom. Unfortunately, financial challenges, like debt, hurt this mission. This is why married couples are to ultimately pursue financial health—to be free to live with open hands, ready to go where He wants us to go and give how He wants us to give. Financially healthy couples are better able to say “yes” instead of “not yet.”
How does God’s design for money work out uniquely in the context of marriage?
In marriage, we are to be one. This oneness reaches into every aspect of our lives, including our wallets. In marriage, it’s not my money and my debt but our money and our debt. And God’s design for money becomes our design, our money’s purpose.
The reality is that money, while often viewed as a marriage destroyer, can be a marriage harmonizer. Pursuing generous, Kingdom-advancing living can bring both husband and wife together. It can allow a couple to have front row seats to witness what God can do through your finances when you open your hands and say to God, “Take it. It’s already yours.”
What’s the end goal, for Christians, when it comes to having a financially healthy marriage?
To be one and advance God’s Kingdom. In The Marriage Challenge, much of the content is dedicated to helping marriages pursue financial health. But this is not simply for the sake of financial health. Financial health in marriage is a means to a much greater, more satisfying goal than financial health. Financial health is a means by which couples can more easily use their resources to impact lives for all eternity.
More than likely, you know a few financially healthy, but miserable couples. How does this happen? Well, being debt free is important, but it is not the most important thing. When financial health becomes the main focus, we can miss out on something much more exciting. We miss out on seeing God use our resources to change the lives around us and around the world. And it is hard to be miserable when you see God using your resources to make an eternal difference.
How do you hope readers grow as a result of reading this book?
I do hope that couples will learn how to experience financial health. In fact, I write in Chapter 4 that I hope they become real millionaires. But more importantly, I hope that these pursuits find themselves under the umbrella of chasing oneness in their marriage and the advancement of God’s Kingdom with their resources.
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