As I sat down to read, it crossed my mind about how exactly Mr. Bentley would approach this book. Money and Marriage are 2 parts of life that can either go really well or really badly and my wife and I have experienced both. I’ve read books that tackle the tactical and strategic changes necessary to turn around out-of-control finances. I’ve also read about how to better relate to your spouse. What this book offers is a unique perspective on (for the lack of a better term) the marriage between your money and your marriage. The author writes from a position of authority having both lived and learned the hard way of how not to handle money in a marriage. As a young married man, I sincerely appreciate his straight-to-the-point perspective and insights. When I see books bearing either a title or a subtitle claiming to have any number of life-changing perspectives I become cautious (Rich Dad, Poor Dad for example). However, after getting into the meat of this book I can understand why it’s presented as it is. Each “key” that Mr. Bentley discusses leads to the next key.
Key 1: Commit to Becoming a Peacemaker
Key 2: Grasp the Biblical Definition of Prosperity
Key 3: Know and Fulfill Your Life Purpose
Key 4: Live by God’s Philosophy of Money
Key 5: Understand and Respect Your Spouse’s Personality
Key 6: Create a Unified Financial Plan
Key 7: Establish a Process that Ensures Success
If you notice, the first truly actionable Key in managing finances in this list is Key 6. There is so much more to grasp before even putting figures on paper. A hallmark of our home is keeping it a sanctuary for anyone who is here and a place of peace. I couldn’t agree more that Key 1 should be the act of becoming a peacemaker. If there is no peace between a husband and wife, your finances (and arguably the rest of your life) will be like North and South Korea. Missiles may not be firing back and forth, but NO ONE dares cross the DMZ in between. Mr. Bentley shares the story of a man who makes the first move in establishing peace with his wife. It is the embodiment of perhaps my favorite quote in the book. The author is unknown, but it says this “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.”
He moves on to discuss the disconnect between God and society’s definition of prosperity. He offers the definition of prosperity in Singapore as being the 5 C’s (Cash, Credit Card, Condo, Car & Country Club). That’s essentially true in the United States as well. Jesus made it clear in Luke 12:15 that money isn’t the goal in life. “Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” The effects of being indoctrinated into a world where the almighty dollar reigns in hearts where God should be are all around us. It’s easy to allow a definition of success that doesn’t match up to God’s to creep into your marriage. This chapter expertly identifies God’s thoughts on what prosperity truly is.
Now, the next Key in the book came as a bit of a surprise to me. That key is finding (and fulfilling) your purpose in this life. It’s honestly not something that I expected to be in a book about money and marriage. It focuses on the need to be united in your spouse first in the desire to ultimately serve Christ and glorify God. Mr. Bentley recognizes that once we’ve established peace in our home we’re to come together as a single unit to serve. Each of our individual callings often will be different, but the end goal remains the same.
He then moves onto taking a look at God’s philosophy about money. This key builds on chapter 2’s Key (the definition of prosperity). A stark contrast is brought forth by the author. It is that by thinking that by fixing our behaviors to change our beliefs, we’re putting the cart before the horse. We must have a correct belief about money (the same belief between both husband and wife). Mr. Bentley summarizes it succinctly in the statement “Stated another way, it is not your financial condition that is the problem; it is the financial lie that leads to that condition. The lie is the root causing the fruit.”
In a bit of a divergence (but not completely), the next Key looks at differences. This key is understanding and appreciating the differences between you and your spouse. It is vitally important to consider this because as a married couple, you’re going be making a lot of decisions together (both large and small)! Being married to someone who is different than you can be hazardous if you let it come between you both. By seeing the world a different way, you can work together to see all aspects of a problem, situation or opportunity. This manifests itself in every part of our lives as a married couple. Ultimately, no matter how closely you agree in personality to your spouse, unity in submission to God is the bedrock of a financially stable marriage.
The author then moves on to the discussing the sixth key, creating a unified financial plan. Mr. Bentley has gone to some length establishing the foundation for this chapter. By establishing peace in your home, understanding God’s view of prosperity and philosophy on money, discovering your purposes in life and unifying your personalities we’re finally ready to make some headway in our finances. It took several keys to bring us to the point that we’re able to sit down as equals in marriage and understand the money God’s blessed us with. This is a foundation that Mr. Bentley builds to help prepare for the actions to come in this chapter. The first 5 keys may be seen as little pebbles, but I can personally testify that some (if not all) can be HUGE stumbling blocks. In our own marriage, we’ve discovered that we have to create a plan to make any progress financially. This plan is called a budget. Mr. Bentley goes into greater detail in the chapter, but ultimately the idea is to spend less than you earn. The budget, and tuning it along the way, is the way to achieve financial goals and dreams within your marriage.
Finally, the last key discussed is possibly the most important in regards to actually walking out everything that’s been discussed so far. It’s much easier to read, think and even discuss plans for you and your spouse. However, when it comes down to it, “walking the talk” is much harder. This chapter offers some seriously valuable gems when it comes to relating to your spouse over money. The highlight of this whole book is found in this chapter. Mr. Bentley explains a method he calls “Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light”. Any impactful financial decision made between him and his wife has to go through this process and give a “green light”. Green light means “proceed as planned”, a yellow light means “let’s think, pray and discuss this more” and a red light means “No & no arguments”. The beauty of this is that there is accountability because both you and your spouse have to agree. There can be no blame later because to make the decision both agreed. Several other methods and processes are discussed and all contribute greatly to managing finances within a marriage.
The remainder of the book offers inspirational stories of marriages that inspire us and encourage us. Finally, the material is given to help work through understanding and implementing the keys discussed in the book.
I sincerely enjoyed reading this book. I strongly recommend it to any Christian couple who is to be married or are currently married and struggling with their finances. My wife and I are no longer facing the financial struggles we did a few years ago, but Mr. Bentley’s wisdom was much appreciated nonetheless. There is always room to grow in regards to finances in marriage. This book offers sound advice that if implemented will help forge a lasting marriage between you and your spouse.