The Blessings of Budgetingby Beverly Sullivant--NJ Wedding Minister on 03/21/13
My husband and I have been married for more than 18 years. For nearly 17 of those years, we participated in a special "dance" when it came to handling money decisions for our household.
Each year, Wayne would create a budget based on our joint income. He would show me the budget and I would pretend that I understood it. Then, each month, we would look at the budget again to see whether we were staying on track or if we were spending too much. We were often spending too much.
Since the areas in which we were over budget had to do with the parts of the household I was responsible for (entertainment, clothing, childcare needs, gifts), the review of the budget often resulted in a crying jag from me and a vain attempt at consolation from Wayne.
Looking back, I think I, somehow, I had it in my (subconscious) mind that if I got upset often enough, he would just give up and would stop bothering me with this magnified look at my financial inadequacies. Being the consistent persevering man I married, Wayne just kept afoot with the budget reviews month after month, year after year.
At the start of this year, however, I reached a turning point. Girded with the motto that it is "better to join 'em than to fight 'em," I decided to do whatever I could to be aligned with Wayne on this budget thing. I approached him one day saying, "I've made it my New Year's Resolution to work hard at coming in under budget this year. And, for every month that I succeed I want a star put on a chart."
Wayne's first reaction was a smile. The next day, he gave me his second reaction.
"Ill do you one better," he said. "For each month that we come in under budget, we will take the difference and split it in two. One half will go into our savings. The second half we will split between us to have as personal spending money."
"Okay," I said, "but I still want star."
I had no idea that following through on this idea would be so great.
I now find pleasure in making decisions to curb spending rather than blow money on things that are not essential or planned.
I find pleasure in knowing that the receipts I hand to him represent victory and not shame.
I find pleasure, for the first time in 18 years, in the idea that we will set aside time to review the budget. It's like watching the a game show. I can't wait to see the result and find out if I'm going to win!
So much pleasure. And an unexpected side effect as well. All of this pleasure has led to an increased desire to come together in the bedroom. We are like giddy teenagers these days, all because we are willing to work as one on something as mundane as a budget.
Marriage holds many surprises. May you find yours.