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July 13, 2021 6:00 am
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I was convinced that nothing can change what was going on in our marriage and I want to try anymore but my commitment to God, help me try one more time. We went to a hope restored marriage intensive and it was life-changing. The counselors created the safest environment we could imagine so that let us really talk one a much different course now I believe we received a miracle that week received your free consultation. Hope restored.com I realized that money was in fact controllable and I wept privately for the realization that I really was serving money and in love with Dr. that's Chuck Bentley reflecting about the mindset he wants about money and possessions. And if you're struggling with finances in your marriage. Stay tuned with encouraging program for you today this is Focus on the Family with your host focus president Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller, John. We hear from so many married couples who struggle in this area of financial difficulty units in the top three depend upon the survey you look at the financial problems are right there at the top and for whatever reason, many husbands and wives aren't on the same page financially. So often we talk about our differences and how your extrovert numeric introvert, etc. those are general principles. I know that some people some couples don't hold true to that and I acknowledge that but it's true with finances to usually have a spender in a saver and that creates great conflict, especially when money is tight in the early years of marriage, but it can take literally years to resolve that and to do better in that area. There are some simple things you can do to get on a better pathway in the earlier in your marriage that you do it the better off you're going to be for obvious reasons you'll have more peace in your home and working to explore those things with our guest today. Yeah Chuck and and Bentley have been married for over 40 years and they say it has taken them a long long time to work out their money and relational issues and very candid about their story. Chuck is the CEO of Crown financial ministries and has counseled thousands of couples about finances and together with and he's written this book, money problems, marriage solutions seven keys to aligning your finances and uniting your hearts, and we have copies of that here the ministry of the links are in the episode notes check in and welcome to Focus on the Family, thank you pleasure to be here. Thank you. It's good that both the of this is that common topic. I mean we do cover this from time to time regularly because it is one of the core problems that crop up in marriage describe force. If you will let me in the early years for you to paint the picture for the viewers the listeners about where the Bentleys rat early on. What were some of those issues that cropped up in your marriage about finances.
Well they say out of your misery comes your ministry. I would say misery describes where we were. We loved each other. We met and married very quickly. I ask and marry me.
After six weeks of knowing her hang on a second and is that true yes what is your mom and dad think of that I didn't really ask.
We were still in college. I knew better than to ask the right here was that a shock for you. I'm sure you were in love and moving that direction, but six weeks is a pretty pretty quick moment to go okay you want to make this permanent. We were in agreement but we didn't know each other and we knew we loved each other and that's always held true.
We've always loved each other but as you know opposites attract. And then after they get married they attack and yeah so I was difficult to live with and when it came to money.
I had a very stubborn view of so I treated and like I was the right opposite and she was the wrong opposite like outward totally different but my view was if she would just be more like me.
Then we would get along your classic and I treated her that way for many many years and I expected her to become like me. And so she lived under that sort of oppressive view of who she was and I don't think it allowed her to flourish.
It didn't allow her to contribute to the financial difficulties we are having. I was causing them she was trying to solve them. But I didn't give her the space to do that. That's important, describe for sure if I could say it this way your financial personality that might help us better understand you as a couple so and what what was your approach to money.
I grew up in a home with school teachers, so we were sabers and I never knew that we didn't have much growing up you now sport in the 50s so but money was tight and slid very frequently. Yeah. Totally different from Chuck's upbringing and it didn't dawn on us until later in our marriage. How differently we had been raised in wine that had affected how we keep money will what was yours Chuck while she is a classic saver and on the classic spender I'm expended in the family.
I like to spend money. I have big dreams big goals big ideas of his couple will drive camouflaging those kind of things and I would want to buy and I'm a risk taker.
I grew up in the oil and gas business. That's my family background so when I married I was ready to take a lot of risks and she was always driving with her foot on the break so immediately cause conflict. I really didn't even know how to save it wasn't in my worldview that we need to save money for the future. It was we need to invest and take a lot of risk, but this conflict went on for quite some time right of years having like a decade loud deck two decades. Okay, no, and I think that there's a realism and that I appreciate that being the case, because these are things that you can kind of unwrap easily and then put back together and during this time, I mean 20 years of being married to the spender when the dollars were necessarily there. How did you how did you approach things. I mean, how did you go to Chuck and say honey we got a problem when I was raising a church going home, but I was biblically illiterate by the grace of God. Some women invited me to a Bible study is where I first started learning what God said how many years and been married at this time penis.
I think I was 30 when I started it within a Bible study at that point we had baby number two we been married nine years okay so nine years in which you know you should have some maturing signals there. Right here you are in this Bible study and what happened then. It wasn't immediately, but several years later, an older woman said, and she didn't even know that I was going for anything.
She was talking to a group of us and just said, you know, it's not wise to nag your husbands.
She said it's always better to just pray first go to God with it. Ask him to work it out so that moment I mean that woman said that in the new thought about that. How to change your behavior.
I start praying. I just took it to the Lord with a lot of financial pain. Jim I went on the course that I thought was best for us and so I would make investments or decisions that didn't work out and we would live on the financial edge and it was it made him feel very insecure and looking back I see why she was trying to get my attention, but I was just too stubborn to listen. I think I had that mindset of I need to have the answers and I don't need to ask anybody for help.
So I was insular I was trying to figure everything out myself.
I wasn't listening to her and unbeknownst to me, she just sort of given up and she was praying for me that God would get my attention and what's interesting gems even though we had a lot of financial pain. I would just double down. Yes, some people go through financial pain and they say okay I'm not can do that again. I would just like you that are risk taker attitude. Now back on again.
I'll back your solution was to just make more money while always swimming my was driven by more and more would solve the problem and quite frankly I really thought it would. I thought the more successful I became, the happier and would become and little did I know the more successful and became the unhappier she became and I didn't know how to solve that problem. Let me ask you in that regard that's really interesting because I think most men would have that since that equation had that revelation than come to you that that was not working.
Your formula was not her hearts ache. I'll tell you story Jim that really made it so apparent to me. We went out for wedding anniversary. I think was around 2021 years and we went to our favorite spot favorite restaurant and were having a great celebration of our marriage in one of my clients walked into the restaurant and on the corner, I saw him stand over there and I looked in and said excuse me and I went over and started talking to my client and I was super excited that we were going to do a deal soon and when I came back I didn't realize it been 15 minutes in and was crying in the booth and I didn't know why she was currently. Let me guess your anniversary.
It was our anniversary and I'd put the deal and the more in this and I will tell her how excited I was and I really did not know why she was upset, but I'd put all of that above her. It's a perfect expression. Chuck of exactly the guys attitude right. I'm doing what this should make you happy and is bringing home more bacon what is you want. That night what it is. I just wanted time with him and I didn't see that. And so that was sort of exhibit a day of where we were was that about the time then you went to the crown financial.
Let me, how did that well was it that you went to. And when did that occur and what was the timeline will think about this and been praying for me, 10, 11 years while and this crown classes announced in our church bulletin hold on and we shan't character me into we back is always dangerous as let's back up. I need to back out because Chuck came home one evening and said and I want you to pick out our new half a minute pick out the cars he within a business that he assumed now that he was can make a lot of money within the next year. That was my red flag.
We had a major issue and so when I saw that our church was offering this crown course I thought we need it now. So you saw the leader while and was first asked me if I would go and I said I'm too busy and so she's trying to get me to go and so I just said okay it's a heaven on Sunday night. That's only time I have available and I thought that would be sort of the compromise where she would think I'm trying but is never going to happen.
So I called the man who with organizing these classes and he said aunt Sam have one class available it's on a Sunday night and here's the catch. Anyone who agrees to attend will lead another group I sent all of course will do it, so there was no way I was asking Chuck that he would be a big no right now and so here I am.
I'm going to a class I don't know that she's pre-agreed that I will lead one and I was totally obstinate. I was arrogant.
I wasn't interested. I thought I knew Jim I thought I knew what the Bible said about money. I grew up in church and we started opening the word looking at the Scripture and by week six of that Bible study.
I repented of my idolatry of money I realized that money was in fact in control my life and and had not been able to help me see that. But God did in the Holy Spirit convicted me as if I had committed the most heinous of sin against the Lord and I wept privately for the realization that I really was serving money and in love with money, not God. And that's what changed everything. Chuck, I want to pick up on that because that's a profound moment and we need to understand that. I'm sure there are men and women that are listening who maybe they came to that precipice, but they didn't spiritually crossover know they didn't feel that conviction quite the same way, how did you find that humility in that moment to say I like King David, I am that man. I am that man, Jim. I've never met anybody else that I've known in my life. In all these years of doing what I do, that have repented of idolatry of money.
It was something unique to me and something I didn't know was happening in and didn't know how to describe it, but she sensed that was my problem and it took the Lord to reveal to me that that's really what was going on. My heart belong to money and and wondered why wasn't the spiritual leader of the home was because I was worshiping money. I did my devotion with the Wall Street Journal.
That's how I lived. And once the scales fell from my eyes. I just immediately saw that we had to start over from the inside out.
It wasn't the money that would solve our financial problems we had to solve them as a couple together and so we started just rebuilding from the very very basics of our marriage after 20 years of marriage. It started with fresh and we were just talking this morning before we came here. It's been a miracle. God did a complete transformational miracle and I would say apart from my original salvation repenting of the love of money has been the most transformative thing that's ever happened.
There and that transformation and he prayed for 910 years for that moment to occur. It has to be a little surreal. Is this really happening. Is he really making that changes see you know you're going to move in a better direction. Something that you know in your heart you were hoping for. How did that feel to hear Chuck talk about his sin and that way after you'd been praying for him for so long.
I mean, were you hesitant or were you embracing or were you both. I was just grateful as I thought the faithfulness of God.
At that time it was an emotional time for both of us.
We were surrounded with people who are praying for us at the same time, and that crown group. He got on his knees in the group and went so you know it took time there were big changes. I think I was pregnant with number four at the time for boys. I was emotional anyway. Why just I so appreciate that honesty because I can imagine it came with a bundle of good and bad thinking okay is this really going to be a change or is it going to be a few days and then back to normal and I'm sure at times. It's a roller coaster ride because those are like him.
I think for me it was all good. That's good. It was all good.
You know Jim, I'm reliving that moment because not only did I repent before the Lord, but I needed to repent beforehand, pretreating her in the lead and I began to accept her.
I realize she had been right not been wrong and I grew to so deeply appreciate her willingness to persevere to my arrogance, my stubbornness, my demanding my way and for living on the edge and I psych I looked at her one day and I thought oh my goodness you exactly what God knew I needed I needed you to be complete and she had just persevered long enough till I realized what a wonderful, beautiful, godly asset that she was as my wife and that's why we wrote this about marriage because we were just really operating on half of the horsepower of our relationship because she was excluded from helping man and once we came together, everything changed dramatically are intimacy our ability to get along our financials change and we know we were in financial trouble, but in a sense, we wore because we were so.
I was so far off of God's path that I was going in the wrong direction and that and that's what brought us back together as a couple. It's there so many elements. Here the stubbornness of man's heart and what I appreciate about what you're expressing there has to come a breaking point, and that's what intrigues me about your story or ability to zero and through your idolatry through your pride God gave you that ability to see what was true and you realize and you go wow that is my heart.
Let's move to the practical help, you had seven keys to uniting in marriage and were not to be able to cover them all in a few minutes here.
But let's start that and then encourage people to get the book, which is great. It's a quick read money problems, marriage solution, seven keys to aligning your finances and uniting your hearts. That's pretty bold proposition. But let's get into it. The first was peacemaker. I think that I was avoiding peacemaking and we realize that as long as we stayed in conflict with never make progress. And so we came up with some ways to practically put that into action. I tell people if one of you is a peacemaker, you'll survive your marriage but if both of your peacemakers will start to thrive and so we came up with the first to apologize is the bravest first to forget is the strongest in the first to forget is the happiest and so we sort of had this little thing going. Of who would apologize first because unit so interesting how hard it is to apologize when you've offended each other so even today when to apologize to go away and think about it for I want to apologize doesn't come naturally well and you want to make sure it's true. I could tell that you and Gina very similar hearts remixer if you apologizes coming from the core of my being is not superficial to the baseline as we started to make peace with each other so we could attack the problem. Secondly, I had to go through a redefinition of prosperity and what it guesses.
The second second priority second priority because what it happened to me is prosperity was how much was in the bank account and it was all external. The next bonus. The next investment everything that I consider prosperity was wrong and's definition was in the home and so we went to Jeremiah 29 and looked at this, you get to the famous verse, verse 11.
Everybody says they want to claim as I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you not harm plans give you hope and future.
Well, it says before that. Here's how you do that you build a house, settle down, plant a garden eat from your own garden. Mary and have sons and daughters and nieces then pursue prosperity in the city where I called you stop listening to deceivers. Then I'll prosper you will prosperity was in our family. Jim and we flipped over and started to see that God said if you marry and have children. He will prosper you and so there was an apologetic for marriage young people today think that they live apart, they can do better financially. All the data says no. In fact, people do better financially if they do get married than any other living arrangement, and so we wanted to redefine what we believed prosperity was according to Scripture, and that changed my focus completely to be in the home instead of out of the home right and again you've covered wanted to three discovering life's purpose you're touching on that as well. I think in that regard. What we realize money was not our purpose for me.
It had been making a lot of money is not your purpose in life and what is a tool to support your purpose. Your purpose is to glorify God.
Yeah, that's a great position and you know how people are absorbing that working again, I apologize running through these get the book.
That's the main point here. Number four was God's philosophy of money quickly describe that well and had a philosophy of money coming from her frugal background. I had a philosophy of money coming from risk orientation and we couldn't agree. No way we could agree with each other but we realize God has a philosophy of money we decide to dedicate ourselves to know what the Bible said about money and that's what brought us into unity. Number five was respecting your spouse's personality certainly described that how that evolved for the two of you, but I want double down is a risk taker and records check it's really critical that we get to know our spouse as best as we can into respect the differences not attack the differences in temperature when we realize we were we were opposite in every possible way that that was good. When we realize that that could be an asset that helped will I put in charge of paying the bills. Jim, she's the detail person. In fact, there's a Harvard study that says if one of the people in the marriage is picky and detail oriented, you'll do better financially but put them in charge while that's in she's detail oriented, and I started to bring her in and take advantage of how God wired her. We never light on any bill now. When I was in charge. We were always like right that's interesting and go with the strengths of the couple right with whoever does whatever best number six was create a unified financial plan. What are the basic elements there will first of all, we decide to make given our highest financial priority. Jim we flipped over the idea of from how much could we accumulate, how much could we give away in our lifetime and we have lived that out. Which is totally contrary to the way that we used to think about money.
I felt like if you could trust God, then it would work. He would help us make it work and needed. That's good right.
The final key to make marriage and finances work is establishing a process that ensures success and I I would imagine you're starting from spiritual success in working down one of the things you implemented was called red light green light and I love this. I think every couple should do this because it's so simple, but effective. Well Emma describe some of it like you to describe a little bit of it and maybe tell the story of how we need examples just real quickly. What happened was when we were trying to make a financial decision.
We set a threshold of $250 or more if it involved the spending of $250 or greater, and we would both need to agree well what would happen if and didn't agree with me, then I would just debate her until she did and she just got so tired of them.
So one day she said look, let's use the stoplight's advice I read in its know when out and do it if you want to say read if it's yellow going to wait and pray and just trust the Lord if were both grain will go ahead and do it very simple but very effective. You know, again, the these are all great things that we talked about your honest is been wonderful, especially her 20 year struggle to do better.
I mean, what if we as Christian couples had that attitude about every area of our life.
No Lord I'm giving this to you, help my spouse and then that revelation that comes at some point you being faithful in that prayer and then your spouse going while I just Lord you shared this with me what you think. I've been praying about that, for tenure, but in intimacy in finances and how we deal with in-laws. How we deal with friends as a couple.
Those are all the stressors and how how we get along as couples can stress us out rather than being a thriving environment which is what we want couples to have it becomes contentious and so many young couples today give up so early and I'm thinking of the couple that's in their late 20s or 30s and that wife is beginning to pray but she's with the ring like a flower that's dying and she's not willing to stick with it till God answers that prayer and my heart breaks because we get those phone calls every day in our hope restored marriage intensive is filled with couples like that. This is the last hope they have and I would just encourage as a couple. If that's where you're at, contact us, I mean this is a winsome way of how to get through financial difficulty, but there are some serious solutions are that Chuck and Ann have described in their book, money problems, marriage solutions seven keys to aligning your finances and uniting your hearts. I would say that's the Lord's call for all of us as married couples to unite our hearts and to behave in the ways that he would like us to behave. Thank you for being with us. Thank you for sharing the story. Thank you.
Perhaps thank you Jim, thank you, John, and we hope that she'll follow up and get a copy of his great book is Jim is said money problems, marriage solutions, we do have that and when you get the book from Focus on the Family are investing in our efforts to strengthen marriages and to save babies and to help parents raise thriving.
It's all available at her website link is in the episode notes or call 800 K and the word family and if you're able to help Focus on the Family financially.
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