Posts tagged " marriage and money "

My Wife Objects to My Charitable Giving

November 10th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 11 comments

Thanks for the opportunity you give for questions, I have long been reading and studying the Jewish wisdom from you and it’s quite interesting. My question is that for many years I have lived a life of having human sympathy when it comes to charitable contributions. As I write to you now, with my less income I have an orphan in school and a widow I care for.

I have been challenged by my wife to stop bringing financial burden on the family, but that is the only source of Joy I derive in life.

How can I take this vision to the next level?

Jonathan A.

Dear Jonathan,

We have just published an ebook called, The Holistic You: Integrating Your Family, Finances, Faith, Friendships & Fitness. (Go HERE to get your free copy.) We thank you because your question is a perfect example of why these five areas need to be seen together, rather than separately.

You mention that the charity you give is an expression of your human sympathy.  What is more, you write that the giving you do brings you your only joy.

Let’s look at both those statements. If you are a person of faith, then charity is actually an obligation, not an expression of an emotion. Whether or not we feel like giving some of what we earn to others is irrelevant. Most of us do feel happy when we do something for other people, but our responsibility to do so is independent of how it makes us feel. Our emotions don’t decide what we do; even if giving makes us feel deprived, we still must give. God lets us take a 90% commission on what we make, but the remaining 10% does not belong to us. Feeling sympathy for others is a fine trait, but how one acts on that sympathy is what defines us.

It seems that you are pitting faith, finances, and family against each other, rather than letting them work together. If you can say that the only source of joy in your life has nothing to do with marriage and family, then you really need to work on your marriage and family. Instead of charity being a shared activity with your wife as you together choose where your donations should go, you are demeaning your wife by making your “joy”  compete with her reality.  (Susan here: If I heard my husband say that his “only joy” was in something external to our marriage and family, I would be crushed.) We have no way of knowing if your family is actually suffering because you are giving away more than you should or whether your wife only feels that way, but in either case, you need to step back and change what you are doing. It sounds to us like you might have been neglecting your role as a husband.

Whatever charity you give must be given by you and your wife as a couple. Any money you earn belongs to the two of you. If you are giving more than you can afford because it brings you joy, then although it may be more socially acceptable than breaking your budget and causing your family to suffer because you get joy from buying designer clothes or fancy cars,  it does share a similar self-centeredness.

All we have to work with, Jonathan,  is what you wrote. It seems that your income has diminished and you, independently of your wife, decided how to function within your lessened means. You put something “off the table” rather than working together to cope with your new circumstances.

In the Lord’s language, Hebrew, the word for ‘charity’ explicitly suggests obligation rather than an emotional response. The Bible is clear on to whom to give, how to give, and indeed how much to give. Neither too little nor too much.

Perhaps we are being harsh. We encourage you to direct your finely tuned sense of compassion and empathy first to your wife and family and only then extend the circle of sympathy outwards to others.

May you find joy from your marriage,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Should I go back to work?

September 9th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 2 comments

Hi Rabbi and Susan,

My husband and I have just finished the audiobook of Business Secrets from the Bible. We are Christians and your teaching has just expanded our minds so much we are so grateful – and my husband who is in management had already seen great “fruit” from applying your biblical teachings in just the past week.

My question surrounds women returning to the workforce after children. I have an honours degree but have been primarily a stay home mother for nearly 8 years. Can I please have your wisdom on what point I should consider returning to work—would you recommend full time /part-time. I have 2 boys 6 and 8 years old. I want to serve my family but I also want to make some money!

I have had my own business in the past but understand it requires much attention. I really don’t want to outsource parenting but want to work. I do understand your teaching around 6 days work (which my husband does – and I do too (within the home) but not for money!

Your wisdom would be greatly appreciated

Kindest regards,

Christie (Australia)

Dear Christie,

We are truly delighted your family has been blessed by Business Secrets from the Bible.  Delighted, but not really surprised, Christie, because whether in Australia or in Chile, whether in 2020 or in 1720, the Manufacturer’s Roadmap to reality always applies and is always effective.  A pat on the back to your husband for effectively following the principles in Business Secrets from the Bible.

A big pat on the back to you too for having been in the forward trenches of the home-front-lines these past 8 years and being able to focus on being a wife and mom.  Though I don’t underestimate the importance of our book in your husband’s success, it takes second place to your being present as his wife.  That usually contributes far more to the husband’s fiscal achievements than most couples realize. Wise and perceptive husbands know, acknowledge, and appreciate their wives’ contribution to their own economic performance.

Which leads naturally to the question you ask and the question we ask you in return.  Looking only at hard dollar numbers, how would you react to this set of equations:  (H -husband, W – wife, F – family)

NOW:    H100 + W0  =  F100

THEN:   H85  + W30  =  F115

Now, in the present,  your husband makes, shall we say $100 while, with you, the wife,  at home, although you contribute greatly to his fiscal effectiveness, you add $0 for a total family income of $100.

Then,  let’s imagine that with you away at work, your husband’s income were to drop to $85 (not uncommon) but you were to earn $30, for a total family income of $115.

What would you say?  For a 15% increase in family revenue, would you still go to work?  This is an important though hypothetical question because how you answer it to yourself will tell you the answer to another question.  Namely, is your motivation primarily monetary or are you looking for other things such as challenge, accomplishment and adult interaction?

We admire you for holding an honours degree, Christie, but you don’t tell us in what subject. Not to be frivolous, but if your degree is in 12th Century Byzantine Frescoes it has zero economic value to you right now, whereas if it is in actuarial science, working even part-time, you’d do rather well.

From your words, “but I also want to make some money!” rather than, “Our family could use some additional money,” we assume that while extra income would be helpful, your family is managing with what your husband earns. That gives you and your husband the luxury of choice, both in whether you return to paid work as well as what you do.

But make it a joint husband/wife decision.  As any Bible enthusiast knows, in this world, for every positive there is a corresponding negative.  Have a sober discussion about the marriage and family costs of a working wife and mom.  The two of you should discuss what would be best and for how long it should be lived before a reevaluation is scheduled.   The discussion will help lead you on the right path.

Is it possible that you are ready to branch out, but that this can occur without joining the paid workforce? We don’t know what your skills are, but you do mention having had your own business. Are you able to think of family and business as one unit rather than as competing entities? There is tremendous value in children growing up with a front-row seat in economics and real life. We assume that they are in school, but they (especially the eight-year-old) are not too young to pack boxes, answer phones professionally, check inventory, sweep up and do myriad other chores that running a small home business involves. Not only does it contribute valuable understanding about the real world of commerce, but it is tremendously valuable for every member of the family to recognize that he is part of a team and a greater enterprise.

On one hand, being an entrepreneur can consume many more hours than having a job, but it does leave you more in control of your time. Freelancing is another option that carries the negative of uncertainty but lets you scale back when needed. Today, with digital technology so prevalent and so accepted, there are hundreds of ways of serving other people from your home. We encourage you to explore these options. As you well know, family life can run smoothly but it can also dash up against rocky shores. Being able to adjust and step up with your sons when needed is terribly important.

Since we haven’t (yet) visited your wonderful country, we can’t speak about schools in Australia, but we do know that parents in the United States are quite wrong when they assume that their own values are being transmitted by the teachers who are spending most of every day with their children. This is, sadly, often true for private and religious schools as well as Government Indoctrination Camps. Technology, social media and other facets of our time also mean that this generation of children is in desperate need of parental attention. While your children don’t physically need you as they did when they were younger, they still greatly need for your husband and you to have a fantastic marriage (still one of the greatest gifts parents can bequeath their children) as well as a firm finger on the pulse of their lives.

We hope this gives both you and your husband some ideas to explore,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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My girlfriend’s earning potential is greater than mine.

November 13th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 5 comments

I have listened to a few of your podcasts that talk about the perils of income disparity between spouses, where the wife earns more than the husband. I’m a guy, and frankly the topic terrifies me because I’d rather drive nails through my feet than face the prospect of divorce because of this kind of thing. 

I’m dating someone who does not earn more than me but she has high potential to do so later.Am I heading for disaster?


Dear Justin,

I (RDL) often speak about the connection between money and marriage on my podcast and I (Susan) frequently cover variations on the same theme in my Musings. In this forum you get the two of us together! 

A few years ago, we did a multi-day conference in Dallas on the topic and we are working on a book as well. Some of what we write below comes out of that manuscript. So, you have touched a hot-button subject for us and one in which, not surprisingly, much of what we have to say contradicts popular culture.

One of the sentences in your letter concerns us.  We hope we’re wrong but you sound passively resigned to being terrified.  Why isn’t that fear fueling your financial climb to a new level at which that fear would evaporate?  Part of being a male is developing and feeling ambition.


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