One of the TAFES staff asked for advice on Whatsapp from senior associates about a student’s question:
Is married people having one bank account good or not so good? We ask for your view and experiences.
In general, everyone agreed that a single joint account was best. The alternative to this was the husband controlling all the money. The joint account was seen as a way to give women access to the money, which is good for them and good for the family.
It was agreed that women are the better managers of money. They have greater understanding of the family’s needs and willingness to distribute money accordingly. Always take your wife to the bank, and when you retire, you will faint away when you hear the amount of money you have saved up!
There was a discussion about what to do if your wife earns more than you, and if you must be earning enough to support a wife before you get married. The answer brought some clarity to the question from last time about whether having ‘dreams’ for the family is enough, or whether it needs to have some tangible results. The answer was that it’s not about having a certain amount of money, but about exerting yourself for your wife. One associate, who is now in a very high and well paying position, gave his own example. When he was first married, his wife earned far more than him, but he wanted to exert himself on her behalf, so he held down 3 menial jobs, to show her that he was worthy of her. Today he works in a very high powered and well paying job.
He said that the Bible’s teaching is that it is a husband’s role to provide for his family, and things work best when the wife’s income is a bonus. This is about a husband caring for his family, so that his wife need not bear economic responsibility on top of the physical and emotional burdens she already naturally bears, both through childbearing and her nurturing roles. It will not always work out this way practically, but this is about the husband shouldering his responsibilities rather than shirking them.
Another associate added that his daughter had asked him this week that she had read in Genesis 3 that the snake’s punishment was to crawl on the ground, that Eve’s was pain in childbearing, and that Adam’s was the sweat of his brow as he worked the land. Why then, does the whole family bear Adam’s punishment?
This same associate offered another piece of wisdom from Genesis 3 as well. He said that it is men’s job to bring the fruits to women. When women are forced into this role of bringing fruit to men, things do not go well. Just look at what happened when Eve brought the fruit to Adam!
Everyone was agreed in their condemnation of two kinds of men: those who are lazy, and those who seek to control their wives. They spoke against the idea that a man can delegate his responsibility to provide for his family to his wife, so he can go and do what he likes. Someone said that men hide behind Proverbs 31 and use it as an excuse to piggy back on the generosity, patience and hard work of their wives.
Instead, they advocated unity in marriage, or to use the old language, ‘cleaving‘. This would not be solved by a mere joining of bank accounts, because if a couple has a joint bank account but are not caring for and respecting one another, a wife might withdraw all the money because she does not trust her husband, or the husband may police the account in order to control her. A joint bank account needs to be a symptom of unity, not a means to it.
This points to deeper issues of attitude and heart, and it was felt that many young men do not have good models of manhood or fatherhood to guide them. How can they imitate a father figure they do not have? The breakdown of village life and networks is keenly felt here, and there are questions about how the church can play its role in producing men of integrity.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.