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Last weekend Mercy and I (Eric) conducted a seminar with the married couples from our churches in Lilongwe, Malawi, and we looked at two areas that rank among the great marriage killers, “Family & Finances” and  “Sex in marriage.” Sex and money are two difficult topics of discussion in the African tradition. To tackle such topics is like hitting on a rock. However, we cannot avoid biblically addressing these issues as they have handicapped Christianity in Africa. Traditionally sex is mainly considered a benefit for the husband and to speak about it in the open is taboo. So is money – a woman does not need to know what the husband’s income is.

We knew very well that there would be some resistance regarding some of the cultural practices we would challenge, but we did not give up knowing that God’s Word is living, active, and more than powerful to soften even stony hearts.

Asked if women should know about the husband’s income? And just as expected, there was a big NO with all the reasons culture can offer: Support is only given to her family, she overspends, everything goes to her clothing, she spends too much on donuts and French fries, and she shouldn’t because some women are lovers of money. The challenge given to the men was: suppose she is the one working…should she inform the husband about her income? Interesting enough, all agreed that she must.

Asked of the women if they should know about their husband’s income…all women agreed with the following reasons: If the woman is aware of how much is coming in she becomes wise in her spending bearing in mind the income available, she knows how to give support to her husband and her own family, she knows when she needs new shoes or a rapper and can save toward that, she knows how to make a monthly budget and works through it, if a woman knows and has access to family finances, she becomes less suspicious of her husband spending money on other women. Women also agreed that if they do not know about the family finances they spend unwisely thinking their husband gets more than what they seem to have, the budgets include daily buying because money is given only for a day’s meal, women feel their men spend more on their own families and on other women, the temptation to steal from their husband is very high and some would wait till the man is in bathroom or asleep for them to search his pockets. Some even pointed out that women fall into the temptation of extra marital affairs because there are men out their willing to shower them with lots of money that can feed and cloth them, the children, and the husband, too. They also pointed out that this has been one of the leading factors in the spread of HIV/AIDS among married couples.This was shocking for the men to hear, but very helpful.

With all further discussions and teachings we finally arrived at a conclusion that women need to know about the family finances and be allowed to plan and manage the monthly budget, but it is also important for the couple to know each other’s weaknesses regarding money and be accountable to one another as this promotes trust and faithfulness in marriage.

Couples were given time to reflect on the topic and discuss what would be helpful for their families regarding finances and to pray together. At mealtime it was all rosy as we could see them talking and laughing, eating together, and feeding each other something some may have only done on the day of their wedding, remembering old days!!! At the end of the day the couples were not embarrassed to express their love for each other in public, they called each other sweet names, and held hands as they walked back home. Some men carried their wives’ handbags which is something culture would not allow! All that were in attendance appreciated the time spent and regretted their having come late.

We are grateful to the Lord that He alone in His great faithfulness is able to make all things beautiful, heal and restore broken marriages, and refresh those who are still standing.

We look forward to another time in April when we will discuss in detail the topic on sex in marriage, the traditional and the biblical view. We cannot have strong standing churches if our marriages are failing. Your prayer support in this is greatly coveted.

To God be the glory for great things He has done and so we can say Ebenezer.

To see a short video of the seminar, click HERE.

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