by Father Lovasik, Catholic Family Handbook
Be temperate toward material things
Ill-regulated love of material things can be the cause of much trouble, unhappiness, and downright misery in the home. Your attitude toward money can be a source of great friction if it is not well ordered.
Two extremes are to be avoided: miserliness and prodigality.
A miser lives in some comfort, but has to struggle mightily with himself to give away even a small sum. A spendthrift is one who foolishly, wastefully, and usually selfishly squanders money, whether he happens to possess little or much.
Today there is a craze for buying on credit. A wife who cannot not see an expensive item for household use in a store without buying it can keep a man so loaded down with debt that he will find no joy in the use of these unpaid-for luxuries.
When a wife is foolish and childish in handling money, it would be prudent for a husband not to let her have any money at all. But such cases are rare.
The other extreme is intolerable miserliness. The principle is: “I pay as I go.” Some men not only refuse to incur debts, but strive for a bank account ten times greater than the cost of anything their wives want to buy.
A little debt can be a good thing: it keeps both spouses striving and working together; whereas, without it, there is less incentive to cooperate and sacrifice. But that means a reasonable amount of debt.
A sensible wife will accept limitations on her desire for new things, and at the same time a sensible husband will be willing to incur a reasonable debt.
Miserliness is not in accord with the honesty and sincerity you owe your family. If you are the father of a family, your first obligation is to provide the economic necessities for your wife and children. You are to be the breadwinner of the family, and you should not expect your wife to neglect your home and children for the sake of extra income unless extraordinary circumstances indicate a real need.
A mother’s job is to keep up a good home and raise her children properly. Greed or selfishness should not induce her to neglect these tasks for the sake of the additional income she can earn from a job outside the home.
In marriage you entered into the closest possible partnership with each other. The result of this partnership is that you are bound to share not only those faculties that are involved in the procreation of children, but other things as well, such as material possessions.
The free use of material things is one of the greatest joys of ownership. If you, as a husband, deprive your wife of that joy, you are not sharing in the full sense of the word. The fact that you pay the bills does not mean that you are sharing these things completely.
Do not be a party to some of the abuses practiced by some “money-pinching” husbands. Do not keep from your wife the actual amount of your income or refuse to let her have a word to say about money matters, with the result that she has no idea how to buy for the present or to plan for the future.
She has a right to know exactly how much you are earning, and she should be taken into your counsels on the economic planning for the home. Business dealings and other arrangements that affect the welfare of your home should be common knowledge.
Neither of you should ever contract a personal debt without first talking it over with the other and reaching an agreement.
A wise wife is satisfied with giving her honest opinion. The final decision rests with her husband, who is the head of the home, even as Christ is the head of the Church.
Do not imitate the practice of some husbands who give their wives just barely enough to provide necessities for the home, for herself, and for the children.
Your wife should be a sharer of your income, not an unsalaried servant, held to account count for every penny she spends. Some husbands spend freely on their own amusements but cannot afford recreation money for their wives and children.
Your wife has a right to spend just as much of your money for her personal pleasure as you do for your own. The ideal arrangement is that both of you share in whatever pleasures money can buy.
As the educator and trainer of the immature minds and wills entrusted to you by God, your vocation is difficult. It calls for many qualities that are virtues in themselves: zeal, painstaking effort, patience in weariness, and the humility that joyfully stoops to the level of the child. It is hard work, and the temptation must come at times to abandon the effort and take life easy. Only the seriousness of the undertaking and the knowledge that it is done for God can sustain the untiring effort demanded. – Father Lawrence Lovasik
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