Family Life

3 Powerful Secrets That STOPPED Our Money Fights

When Jono and I first got married, I used to dread our family budget meetings. We would only do them once a month or so, but it always resulted in both of us getting tensed and irritated with each other. He would come up with a plan for the money, and I would just nod and agree to hurry the meeting along. During the month though, I would do stuff that wasn’t in the plan, and we would end up arguing about it at the next budget meeting. I wanted to go out to eat, plan vacations, and go shopping. He wanted to get life insurance and start paying off our student loans.

After months (couple of years?)  of going through the same cycle, we decided to sign up for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class. And oh my goodness, it literally changed our relationship. The more I learned about money and the importance of budgeting, the more I learned about myself. I realized that my attitude towards our budget meetings was because I felt intimidated.

 I had never really followed a budget. Before I got married, all I did was make sure my bills were paid and my car was running. The rest of my money just kind of floated away as stuff came up. So when they introduced the concept of making a zero-balanced budget to us, it blew my mind. It was up to me to tell my money where it would go instead of the other way around. I had to think ahead of every possible scenario and plan for it in the budget instead of getting taken by surprise when stuff came up.

When we were done with that class, I felt so empowered. Now my husband and I were finally on the same page. Now I understood why he was constantly thinking of the long-term. I got why he was so adamant about leaving the savings account alone instead of dipping into it when we ran out of cash.

We decided to go ahead and make it our goal to put $1000 into an emergency fund. It felt so good when we saved up that money! It felt even better when our car blew a tire and we didn’t have to scramble to try to find money to replace it!

Now I realize that the main reason why couples fight over money is so simple: money highlights the differences in each person’s mindset.

Every time we talked about money, it was plain as day that Jono is more of a long-term thinker, while I’m more concerned with here and now. He likes to plan ahead and have everything laid out, but I’m more of a free spirit, just going with the flow. He likes to strategize and think through problems, but I tend to avoid things that intimidate me. I like to stay in my comfort zone.

So what do you do when you and your partner are opposites?

1.       Embrace your differences. Instead of trying to change your spouse or making them feel bad about they way they are, focus on their positive aspects. There’s something that each of you can learn from each other that will help you both become better people and enhance your relationship. I can honestly say now that Jono’s need for routines, plans, and strategies have helped me see the benefit in being more organized. I try to be more intentional about planning out my day and what I do with my time, as well as our money. He sees the benefit in being flexible and being able to go with the flow when things come up.

2.       Try to understand each other. There’s almost always a deeper reason for your partner’s actions. Jono didn’t realize that my lack of experience with money made me feel intimidated and anxious. I’m pretty sure that if he had, we would’ve taken Dave Ramsey’s class a lot sooner.

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 I didn’t realize how important it was to Jono that our family had financial security. I knew he had grown up in a household where money was very tight, but I didn’t realize how driven he was to make sure our family didn’t have to go through the things he had to go through as a child. He had to wear the same pants and shoes to school every day. They never turned on the AC so that the electricity bill would stay low. I never had to go through that, so when he was being super strict with our budget, I felt like he was trying to control me. We both needed to understand each other better, and thankfully now we do.

3.       Remember that you’re on the same team. I used to feel like Jono was trying to control me when we would have our budget meetings. He thought that I didn’t care about his wishes. We were both wrong. When we took that class together, a part of a relationship finally clicked into place. We decided to be intentional about working together on our budget instead of Jono coming up with a plan by himself. When we did that, I found it easier to speak up about the things I really wanted to do, and we found ways to put it in our budget. It was so simple now.

Working out our money differences made us so much happier as a couple. It made us appreciate our differences instead of trying so hard to make each other change. And that’s why our relationship is so amazing!

Want to learn more about how to make your differences STRENGTHEN your marriage instead of weakening it? Sign up today for our FREE training!

Talk to you soon!

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Is My Husband Really Supposed To Be In Charge Of Our Decisions?

It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Huntsville. Back then, we didn’t have kids  so we were free to just wake up when we felt fully rested. I got up and cooked us a gourmet breakfast of scrambled tofu and pancakes. We were young, just married, and trying to be healthy. Oh, the memories.

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As I cleared the dishes away my husband said something that made my stomach drop in dread.

“Babe, I wanted us to sit down and look at the budget today.”

Ugh.

Why couldn’t we just keep enjoying our peaceful Sunday morning?

I plopped down next to him on our couch with my arms folded as he pulled out his laptop. In a couple of seconds he had Dave Ramsey’s Budgeting Spreadsheet up and was scrolling through the numbers.

“So here’s our monthly income….” he started off. Then he scrolled down to our expenses. As he punched in the numbers and the amount of money left to budget decreased, I felt myself growing more anxious and frustrated. We hadn’t even reached the section for our personal spending allowances and the money was almost gone.

Ugh.

“…..so I think to save money we should….” I nodded silently even as I tuned out what he was saying. Why did I need to keep listening? I already knew the gist of what he was saying: We’re on a tight budget and can’t really spend much on ourselves.

For months, even the first few years of our marriage, this was my attitude when it came to our finances. I didn’t want to deal with the responsibility of figuring out how to save and spend our money, so I just left everything up to my husband and just waited to pull out my personal spending money.

After a while I realized that I couldn’t continue this way. How could I say we were a team when I was basically dumping the responsibility of our finances on my husband?

I started being more engaged in our budget meetings. I brainstormed strategies to cut expenses in some places so that we could have more flexibility in other places. A few hours after one of our meetings my husband sent me a text that said, “You being involved with the budget really took a lot of stress off me. It’s so much better when we work together.”

Awww. That made me feel happy.

It also forced me to take a good, long look at my approach to our marriage. I realized that in a lot of ways, I was being a PASSIVE wife . I used the “biblical” example of male leadership to cop out of actively engaging in problem-solving in our marriage.

Basically, I was leaving the “adulting” to my husband and expecting him to work out all our problems. I was trying so hard to avoid potential conflicts over money that I became disengaged from the decision-making process.

Wives, we CANNOT be this way.

Our husbands can’t be great husbands unless we help them be great. Our husbands can’t truly lead our families unless we’re standing beside them. They need us to actively engage with and support them. That doesn’t happen with you just standing there letting him make every decision.  
By avoiding conflict, you’re making yourself a spectator in your own marriage and in your own home.

Only by working together can a husband and wife set the tone of the home. Together, you and your husband will determine the life your family lives .  Together, you decide on the vision and values of your family. Only when you actively work together can your family have the legacy you want.

But husbands, I got something for ya’ll too.

Some husbands like to use what they interpret as the “biblical” model of male leadership to run their houses like a one-man show. They think whatever they say should go and that their wives should just swallow whatever reservations or doubts they have and go with the plan.

Nope.

Sorry, but I’m not sorry. This view of leadership is completely WRONG.

God said, “It’s not good that man should be alone.”

You hear that? You shouldn’t be alone. Not in life, and definitely not in decision-making. You NEED your wife’s input. She can see things you can’t because her perspective is different from yours. Just like the story of the 5 blind men and the elephant, you can only see the whole picture when everyone on the team shares what they see.

She thinks it’s not a good idea to launch that business?

Ask her why and actually LISTEN to what she’s saying, not to come up with a rebuttal, but to understand her perspective. She may see holes in your plan that you didn’t see yourself.   

Some husbands brush off their wives opinions because they have such a high opinion of their own intelligence, not realizing that we all have expertise in certain areas. Instead of teaming up with your wife to overcome life’s obstacles, you’re treating her like she’s a player on an opposing team. 

This will only push her away and make her feel unimportant and undervalued.

You don’t want that do you?

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.” Basically, Christ’s love for us should make us be more intentional about being united with our spouse. It should motivate us to strive to be on the same page, or at least work on getting there without making the other person feel obligated to just go along with whatever we decide.

I feel like there’s so much more that can be said on this topic, but I’ll let you guys respond and pick the conversation back up in another post soon.

If you liked this article, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram so we can stay connected throughout the week and continue the conversation!

Take care!

Kay

P.S. Check out 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage! It's written by one of my favorite marriage bloggers (and fellow Canadian :-)

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When You’re Stuck Between Pleasing Your Spouse or Your Parents

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“Babe, I want to go to church with my mom this weekend.” I was in the kitchen getting breakfast ready for the kids, and it was Friday morning.

Right away, I could feel tension in the air.

“I don’t want to go to your mom’s church,” Jono replied.

I couldn’t help letting a tiny bit of stubbornness creep into my voice as I responded, “That’s fine, but I’m still going.”

“You’d rather go to church with your mom than for us to be together and happy?” I could hear the hurt in his voice.

And just like that, I was caught in the middle between my husband and my mom. Again.

I gritted my teeth and silently counted to five as I slowly exhaled. I didn’t want this to become an argument, and I wanted him to understand where I was coming from.  So I tried again.

“My mom’s working on Christmas, so I wanted to spend some time with her and give her a chance to see the kids for the holiday.” I did my best to keep my voice calm and matter-of-fact as I explained.

I could tell that he still wasn’t convinced, but he didn’t bring it up again the rest of the morning as we continued getting the kids ready for school and the day ahead.

We walked outside together to my car and he strapped the kids into their car seats. “So you’re not upset that I’m going to church with my mom?” I couldn’t help asking as I slid behind the wheel.

He shrugged his shoulders, “It’s your life, I can’t tell you what to do.”

Great, I thought to myself as he walked away. He wasn’t coming with us.

It seemed like no matter what choice I made, I would be letting someone down.

I could understand my husband’s feelings about the situation. We’re usually the ones that make the effort to go see my mom; she’s prefers to be in her own house and rarely goes to anyone else’s. So when the kids get to see her, ninety-nine percent of the time it’s because we go to her.

At the same time, I feel like it’s unrealistic to expect her to suddenly change her ways, even for us. It’s exhausting to keep trying to convince her to come over to our house more often.  And I’m close to my mom (as close as you can be to a Caribbean mom that is), so I end up giving in to her most of the time, which creates tension between Jono and I. He’s adamant that we stop trying to be the ones that always make the effort, and let her decide to come over more.

So Saturday morning I got up and started getting the kids ready for church, resigned to our family being separated for the next few hours while I went to church alone with them.

I was standing over the stove, stirring oatmeal when Jono came up behind me and slipped his hands around my waist. “I’ll come to church with you guys,” he whispered in my ear. “I know that’ll make you happy.” I smiled up at him as he kissed my neck.

Later that day as we sat in church, I watched as Vivian and my mom made faces at each other and giggled to my left while Jono sat on my right, holding Josiah on his lap. I was caught in the middle of my mom and husband again, but this time in a way that made me feel good. Jono reached over to squeeze my knee and I put my hand over his in response. I was glad that our love for each other kept us united even when we saw things differently when it came to spending time with my mom.

One thing that has helped was to have a conversation with my mom where I explained to her how important it was that she makes an effort to come over to our house instead of us always being the ones to initiate the visits. Since then she’s made more efforts to come over; she’s even gone so far as to catch an Uber to come have dinner with us.

At the same time, it’s important for each married couple to realize that you can’t make your parents be happy. For a long time, I was making things so hard on myself, and straining my relationship with Jono, because I was trying so hard to make my mother happy. I figured that since she and my dad were divorced, her kids were her last hope for happiness. So I threw all my energy into making sure that she never felt lonely or sad…. I would go over to her house almost every day when I had summers off. I would go to her house for dinner every week after church, even postponing plans that my husband and I had made in order to make sure I was there for her. After a while though, it became taxing.

I had to realize that no matter how much I loved her, I couldn’t spend all my spare time with my mom. I had a family now, with kids to raise, and sometimes the things we wanted to do as a family went against traditional Caribbean culture. The values and traditions we wanted to establish for our kids weren’t always things she would agree with, and that was okay. I wasn’t going to let her opinions dictate our decisions, especially if they were things Jono and I had already agreed to do.

So….yeah, being caught in the middle is not a great place to be, but there are ways to minimize that conflict.

1.     Have regular routines established for spending time with extended family (grandma/grandpa, aunts, cousins, etc) in order to make sure those relationships are nurtured and the kids get to know their other family members.

For example, it would’ve prevented a lot of conflict if we just had a standing appointment with my mom so that she knew when to expect us, and when we can expect to see her. She’s divorced, an empty nester, and my siblings and I are scattered over Florida and have our own families.  Even though she doesn’t say it, I know she’s lonely sometimes. So I know the interaction with us is important to her, even though she’s too proud to admit it.

2.     Have boundaries for those relationships. Your family members don’t need to know every single detail of your lives. If there’s something they disagree with, some of them may feel inclined to let you know that. In Caribbean culture, sometimes your family may be very vocal about what they think about you and your spouse’s decisions, and end up influencing your decisions. So be wise about what you share.

3.     Preserve unity between you and your spouse.  Your family will always be ready to forgive you eventually, but getting into conflicts with your spouse because you’ve allowed the opinions of others to influence you is a sure way to make your spouse feel unimportant and more like a third wheel than a partner. Remember your loyalty is first to your marriage!

Until next time!

Kay G

 

 

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