Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for CatholicPhilly.com. Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

She says: 

Cassandra says: Bruce and I rarely agree on how to budget our money. Initially, when we were dating, we decided not to marry until the majority of our educational loans were paid off. After three years of marriage, we are still paying for these, but we should have the loans paid off in the next six months.

Meanwhile, I get frustrated when Bruce does not stay within the budget we set. I often restrain my purchases, only to see Bruce acquiring a new toy, like golf clubs that he had not planned to purchase … nor did he consult with me about purchasing. We want to start a family, but I am wondering if adding a couple of children to the mix will put financial pressures on our marriage that will eventually split us up.

He says:

Bruce says: Since our marriage we have done well financially. In fact, because we both acquired good jobs with good pay after college, we both believed we could get married and handle the rest of our loans in addition to purchasing a home. Cassandra and I are way ahead financially of other classmates who have babies and are still renting or who are not working in their preferred field with their preferred paycheck.

We can afford, and I should be able to get myself, something I see if I wish. I would not mind Cassandra doing the same for herself if she wished from time to time. We have had three years of a great marriage and we want children. I do not want to put off having children just because Cassandra and I occasionally have disagreements on sticking to a budget.

What do they do?

Bruce and Cassandra do not sound as if their finances are in disarray. They both have a job and paychecks they like. Bruce allows himself to get away from the set budget from time to time. Cassandra is stricter with the idea of keeping their budget. Bruce should let Cassandra know when he intends to deviate from the budget before the purchase is made. This would be a sign of respect for his wife. Cassandra needs to relax a bit and not fret over either of them purchasing an “unbudgeted” item, but common sense suggests that your spouse be kept informed in order that the purchase of “whim” items does not get out of hand.

Bruce and Cassandra both express the desire to have children; yet Cassandra frets over the cost associated with children entering their lives … to the extent that she fears a split up over financial bickering if/when the children arrive.

Bruce does not appear to have the angst that Cassandra is experiencing over their finances. Cassandra should look into her past to determine if there is a family history reason that is causing her concern about finances.

Perhaps, if Bruce and Cassandra met with a financial adviser, they would receive a clear picture of their finances and some suggestions for future money planning, especially since children may impact Cassandra’s paycheck. This could help Cassandra in dealing with her budget concerns.

Children need to be seen as a blessing — not a financial curse. Children should not be viewed through a checkbook. “Children too are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward” (Psalm 127: 3). Yes, it is important to consider being financially responsible for the children we bring into the world. Often parents, in the process of becoming responsible for a coming baby, respond by growing up themselves.

Parents need to face the physical, financial, emotional and social effects of parenthood. This is a good thing. In today’s secular world too often the emphasis is placed on things and not on people. “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9: 37).

Bruce and Cassandra appear to have a financially stable future. It will be to their benefit to focus on less worldly items and concentrate on the people they cherish and will cherish in their life together.