You Handle It, Honey
Soon after we first got married, my wife and I started figuring out the roles and responsibilities for the little one bedroom apartment we called home. Which one of us would handle the cooking. Which one would do the daily cleaning. Who’d kill the bugs. Laundry. Litter-box. Etc., etc..
Now, it’s not like we sat down at the dinner table with a big yellow pad and planned all this out. Mostly, it just sort of happened, and that was fine…except I was seriously lousy at all of it.
Take housecleaning. I would get up at the crack of ten, and do what I considered to be a standard day of cleaning. After a long day of work, she would come home and clean everything again. At the time, we each tolerated different levels of “clean.” I didn’t care about a day and a half of dirty dishes in the sink, but she wanted them washed after every meal. So, we had to compromise.
I accepted my inadequacy, and she did the cleaning.
Back in those days, all I was really good for was killing bugs and emptying the litter-box once a week. I accepted that, begrudgingly (at least the cats were happy). After a few weeks of regular failure, though, I got up and out and started bringing home some kind of paycheck. That I did pretty well, and I’ve done consistently better at it ever since. Today, the kids and I can keep a reasonably clean house for a week when absolutely necessary, but their mother is still supremely better at it.
Another important thing I bailed out on in those early days of marriage? The household finances. I had payed the bills late a couple of months in a row and happily let her take them over. Completely abandoned our financial health to my new wife. It was wrong of me to do, and a horrible mistake.
There is a whole spectrum of possible consequences for not working with your spouse on your finances. If you aren’t willing to communicate openly about money, and if you can’t agree to your goals when it comes to your money, your relationship will, at best, fall short of its true potential. At best. Divorced couples in the United States routinely cite financial problems as the primary reason for the demise of their marriage. A little over two years ago, a Massachusetts woman committed suicide because the pressure of her family’s failing financial state became too much to bear and she saw no other way out. Her husband had no idea that they had been foreclosed on and the house was going to be auctioned that day.
I can’t judge him too harshly, because for twelve years I was just like him. Beyond the vaguest of numbers I couldn’t tell you where our money was going every month. That lack of involvement was a key component in our remaining in debt for so long. Abdicating your responsibility to manage your money well is tempting, especially when your spouse is allowing you to, but the cost for doing so is almost always too great.
On the other side, you can’t become a budget tyrant either. Husbands and wives need to work together, and both should be able to come to the table as equals when determining how the money is spent. You are each different. A budget written and implemented by only one of you will only reflect half of the family’s insights, goals and needs. It will be incomplete, and have no real chance to succeed.
Finally, working together means you can’t keep your money separate. Genesis 2:24 reads “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Joining flesh means joining your lives, and money touches every part of life. Join your bank accounts. All the money earned by both spouses belongs to the family. There is no his money and her money, it’s our money, and we make a budget to agree on how our money is managed.
Those are the three big problems I’ve encountered (and lived through) when dealing with the concept of the family budget. Are there more? I’m sure of it, but get past these three and you’ll be well on your way to winning.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.