Maybe a change will add peace to your marriage

 Tired of Fighting

If your marriage is like most marriages, you probably have settled into a familiar routine regarding who does what chores around the house.

For years, I handled all of the finances and the family from the overall budget down to the weekly spending. My wife would call me or ask me if she could spend money on certain items since she didn’t have an understanding of the budget details and because she wanted to make sure that she wasn’t spending money that we didn’t have.

While I appreciated this behavior (it sure beats being married to someone who just spends money on anything they want), it added a lot of stress to our marriage.

If I told her “no” about something, she was gracious about the decision, but that didn’t hide that disappointments that I read in her face and each “no” also poked at my emotional insecurities of being a good provider.

Other times, I would have plans in my head for spending our weekly money — the money that we used for groceries, eating out, and miscellaneous items – and Kradan would spend it.  She would find a good buy at the store and return home, excited to tell me all about it. Instead, I would be upset because I had already allocated that money in my head.  You can imagine that this did not go over well.

Time for a Change

A couple of months ago, I decided that arguing over finances wasn’t worth the hassle it created in our life. So we sat down together and divided up different parts of the budget. I still controlled the overall budget, but making this change gave her freedom to decide where the money went on a day-to-day basis.

I was nervous about giving up this control to Kradan since I enjoy control. Instead of a problem,  I found that it is a win/win situation for both of us.  Kradan has more control and I don’t have to worry about telling her “no.”

For instance, while shopping for groceries, my main focus was always to spend as little as possible regardless of the nutritional quality of the meals.  She would then be required to make with food that I had decided upon.  The lack of nutrition sapped at her feelings about herself as a mom.  Now, she is much happier about the meals that she creates for the family. Control and flexibility over where to shop and how much to spend have allowed her to create meals that feels good about.

 Giving Up Control

The problem with giving up control, of course, is that you really have to give it up. You cannot claim to turn ownership over to your spouse in a given area and then complain about their choices. To make this easier on myself, I made a point when we first changed the system to adopt a very simple mantra, “whatever is fine with me.”

The “whatever” mantra is not a way to avoid discussion, but simply a way to embrace the fact that I have turned ownership over to her. Now when she comes home excited about a bargain that she found, I don’t second-guess her and she doesn’t have to worry about what my reaction is going to be.

 How About You?

Finances may not be an issue for you in your marriage. You may have developed a system already that works without causing fraction.

However, there is bound to be some sort of issue where the above principles may apply. Think about the things that you argue over with your spouse. Somewhere in there is an issue of control or an issue of how decisions are made.

Jot a few things down and talk it over maybe you can find some common ground that will limit made some of the issues that you have.

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About kentostby
Kent Ostby is a fiction and efficiency writer who is willing to dabble in just about any other phase of writing as well.

3 Responses to Maybe a change will add peace to your marriage

  1. Catherine says:

    Kent, well written. I know this is a problem for many couples and your suggestions are wonderful. In our home, we have a budget for each major category (dining out, groceries, household, medical etc) and an accrual for such things as clothing, car maintenance and other long term savings goals like vacations.

    Denis handles all the QuickBooks entries, savings / banking / investment choices and so on. I am responsible for keeping within the weekly budget in all the categories as I do the shopping.

    This is a great “balance of power” in that we created the monthly amounts in each of the categories together, based on spending history. I give him receipts for purchases and try to stay within the amounts we have chosen in each area. More spent in one area means less must be spent in another. He gives me a print out at the end of each week of what we have spent in each category and what we have left for the year (divided by week) so I know how we are doing.

    Just our way of making it work 🙂

  2. Shelia says:

    I’ll admit, there’s no way I want total control over the budget but there are areas I have more interest in than others. I like that this plan is not all or nothing, which tends to be my inclination in areas that cause me stress. Definately worth a discussion. Thanks Kent!

  3. Nichol says:

    Wow! Proud of you, Kent! I know how hard that must’ve been for you to give up such a major portion of your ‘control’… xo

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