Happy St. Valentine’s Day!
Today is a day when much of the world focuses on romantic love, roses, chocolates and greeting cards. Since The Message is a Catholic publication, let’s transcend that consumerism and talk about the vocation of marriage and the stewardship of treasure – aka money – within marriage.
Money is perceived differently by men and women. Not understanding that difference can be the source of real pain in a marriage, putting distance in the relationship between a husband and wife, and between them and God.
In its base form, money is simply a tool, a medium of exchanging goods and services. Its elevation of importance, however, comes with our perception of what money can do for us.
Some time ago, a study was done by a mutual fund company that looked into the different attitudes held toward money by men and women. The finding was that women tend to view money as security, while men view it as a replaceable commodity.
Before answering the call of the Lord to work for the Church, I spent more than 20 years in the world of investments. I worked with many, many men and women over the years, learning all about their money attitudes.
Here is what I found in all those meetings, with all those people. Women viewed money as security, while men viewed it as a replaceable commodity.
Women were less willing to take risks with their investments. I would give clients a long questionnaire to detail their risk profile. Women’s responses indicated they were willing to sacrifice return in order to reduce their investment risk. Once they had the money, they did not want to lose it.
It’s not because women were less savvy investors, or didn’t know the tradeoffs between risk and return. No; they understood that very well. They saw the money as their home, their kids’ education, their retirement. It was food in the refrigerator and gas in the car. Once it was earned and saved, just the thought of losing it was quite painful.
I would give men the same questionnaire to determine their risk tolerance as I gave the women, and their results were almost always different from the women. Men treated money as though there was more where that came from. They weren’t stupid or careless, but they believed they could make more if their investment soured. Men were far more willing to seek higher returns through greater risk of loss.
Part of what makes a marriage work is being able to see things from the perspective of our spouse. The divergent views by husband and wife in being stewards of treasure can be softened by realizing that our marriages are sacramental and vocational, and that the most important thing is our relationship with God, followed by our relationship with our spouse.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us “Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant” (CCC 1617).
The way we look at money does not have to be a separating factor as we live this “…true sacrament of the New Covenant.” By acknowledging and understanding their differences, husbands and wives can bring unity to their lives, assisting each other in growing closer to the Lord.
Be patient and kind in your stewardship of treasure. This St. Valentine’s Day, while the world is focusing on flowers and chocolate, give your beloved spouse the gift that truly matters – understanding through love.
As always, thanks for reading. I would love to hear from you. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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