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They say that in polite company you should never discuss three things: sex, politics and money. In marriage, two of those three things come up ALL THE TIME.
There have been moments in our life together where Husband and I have had quite a bit of money available to us as well as times where debt and budgets were all we discussed.
Neither of us were particularly good at managing finances and a lot of that stemmed from the fact we both have an abundant view of money – meaning somehow it was always there, or we could make it appear.
But there came a time when life and circumstances were not outrun by abundance. College loans and medical bills and family illnesses taking me away from work somewhat forced our hands – and my ill-timed “retirement” a few years back. It was a different way to live once an entire income was lost – and it was stressful – for each of us and our marriage.
There was failure and resentment and phone call after phone call asking about the status of accounts and finding joy in the little things of life (what you do when you can’t enjoy the things you used to because they were no longer in the budget) became impossible.
In a variety of ways I had taken on a lot mentally. That’s what I do – try to solve problems. But along the way the weight of always trying to solve problems (and sometimes creating a few with my methods of solving) got to be too much. Years of battle planning and “Plan Bs” and delicate balances and walking on eggshells had caught up with me and taking on dealing with the finances and fixing that mess was too much.
For the first time I said to Husband something I’d never verbalized: I needed him to be “The Man” and take this on. No more partnership / equality / I Am Woman crap. I needed 1950s old school roles and responsibilities. I’ll deal with the kids and school and the house and, yes, I’ll go back to work to help out the best way I can, but I needed him to deal with all the bills and the plan to fix the finances. I couldn’t open one more bill and I couIdn’t answer one more phone call. I was tired and broken-spirited and I needed a rock. I asked for what I needed – and I needed him to be that rock.
The thing about abundance is it never really goes away. It does, however, need to be managed. And that was an interesting lesson to learn at the age of 38.
Leah and Benjamin are growing up with an abundant view of money – and I’m okay with that – but it is clear that lessons on managing abundance are important from early on. I’m still working on that with them and, quite frankly, with me, but I owe it to them to make sure they live a perspective of responsibility and charity in terms of money.
I owe it to me as well.