Marriage Management Overview: A Practical Approach to Marriage
By Tim Russo
What if you had a tool that could help you achieve fulfillment in your marriage? Would you use it? What if there was a way to see your marriage relationship on paper and identify the specific things that increase intimacy as well as the things that contribute to emotional distance? Well, now there is such a tool. It’s called The Marriage Budget, and it has nothing to do with money.
The Marriage Budget is a simple but practical tool that helps couples see their marriage on paper and put things into perspective. It helps couples develop practical ways of understanding and applying Biblical principles to their relationship. Like a financial budget, The Marriage Budget includes four categories: Income, Expenses, Debt, and Investments. Income sources can be activities you enjoy together, positive habits that convey respect and value to your spouse, meaningful conversation, etc. Income Sources are things that you intentionally do to add value to your spouse and your relationship. Each couple will identify their unique Income Sources for their relationship. When they actively do these things, they bring valuable resources into their marriage. The second category is Expenses. Each couple has two types of Expenses: 1) Necessary Expenses are things that cannot be removed and require marital resources. Common Necessary Expenses might include, parenting, making financial decision, illness and any other challenge which require emotional resources. Because these Expenses cannot be removed, a couple needs to have adequate Marital Income. 2) Unnecessary Expenses are things that drain your marital resources unnecessarily. Unnecessary Expenses might include poor communication skills, bad habits, destructive interactions, and anything that creates negative or unhealthy dynamics in your relationship. The good news about Unnecessary Expenses is that these can be removed. There is no good reason to allow your Marital Income to be wasted on these negative interactions.
The third category in The Marriage Budget is Marital Debt. Marital Debt is any unresolved issue in your marriage. Marital Debt comes in two forms: 1) A husband and wife can bring unresolved personal issues into the marriage. This Personal Debt eventually shows up in the relationship. Personal Debt could be childhood trauma, addiction, etc. 2) The second form of Marital Debt is offenses that occur within the history of the marriage. These may include an affair, verbal or physical abuse, betrayal of trust, lying, and anything that injures your spouse. Marital Debt can be addressed successfully when a couple works together. In some cases, a third party such as a counselor or pastor is needed to help the couple.
The last category in The Marriage Budget is Investments. Marital Investments are similar to Income Sources in that they eventually bring in resources to your marriage. However, Marital Investments are also things that you, as a couple, do together to invest in other couples. It’s a missional mindset. Marital Investments may include keeping a younger couple’s children so they can have a date. It could include hosting a marriage study in our home or paying for a couple to attend a marriage weekend or to get marriage counseling. Marital Investments are gifts you give to others and thereby receive the benefits of your investments in your own marriage.
In my book, Marriage Management, I explain how a couple can use The Marriage Budget to develop a plan to propel their marriage forward.