Skip to main content

Unexpected Lessons


Since I'm taking a break from writing this week, I was looking back through my blog archive and found this one from 2012. 

When I was single, I had never had a budget. I had never saved away in an account. I never felt I needed to. I made sure all my bills were paid and appointments were made and that seemed to be enough. 

I never understood why a couple would want to get a divorce over something as intangible as money. It didn't seem like such a complicated thing. 

After all, now that I'm married, life should be better with two incomes, right? That means twice the money to spend as we please. Right?

Not exactly. 

There are two vehicles, two mouths, and two very different ways of looking at finances. Not to mention four hands pulling out of one bank account.  The car needs new tires, the furnace stopped working, and I need a wedding present for a friend this weekend. But the mortgage is due, the phone bill is due, and that parking ticket still needs to be paid.

We have felt the pressure, and even in days when we have plenty, there is still a nagging thought in the back of our minds that we've forgotten something. There have been disagreements over money, misunderstandings over money, and hurt feelings over money. This intangible, uncomplicated thing has so many times gotten out of hand! 

Now I understand why couples get divorced over finances...it's really hard work! A lot of times there's been some shame and guilt over what we owe and the financial mistakes we've made in the past. There are things we've had to relearn about the way our parents taught us, or failed to teach us, about finances. 

Learning to handle money as a married couple and now a family has meant constant communication about what our financial priorities are. It has meant sitting down and figuring out why and how we're earning and spending the way we are. It's taken hours of reading and researching and planning and we still get it wrong a lot. We still think we have everything financially figured out when something unexpected happens and we need to start again from square one. 

We're learning that finances, like the rest of marriage, is a process. That we're never going to "get there" but that being open and willing to learn is what's important. Learning this has taken the pressure off of getting it right all the time. We could let money lead us to anger, bitterness, and divorce, but instead we're learning that it makes for some unexpected lessons in humility and forgiveness. 





Comments

Stephanie M said…
After almost 40 years of marriage, I have learned the lessons you teach. It still helps me to read your words. Keep up the wonderful work. You're a blessing!
Sarah Heath said…
Wow, Stephanie, that means a lot coming from a veteran like yourself! Thank you for the kind words.

Popular posts from this blog

Body Image

I remember being 6 years old in my dance class. My mom walked out of the parent waiting area and offered me a sip of her Sprite. Two sips in I heard the teacher say from the front of the room, "That's enough. She doesn't need any more sweets. She's big enough." Some of the other girls snickered. After we finished our winter show later that month, I never went back to dance lessons again. 

I remember being 8 years old and my parents had friends over for dinner. The youngest was my age so upstairs we went to play. I sat on the edge of my bed while she ransacked my room. I told her she was being too rough with my stuff. She turned around, poked me in the stomach, and out of nowhere said,"Well at least I'm not chubby." I had no words for her statement but I spent the rest of the evening avoiding her by pretending to help in the kitchen. 

At 13 years old, my best guy friend told me that he would be interested in dating me if my legs were a little leaner an…

Lessons from Lunch

Recently, my daughter and I took lunch to my husband at his workplace. He's a re-modeler, so his job site is any home where the crew is currently working. This particular family invited me in and asked if we were going to be staying awhile. Normally, I would just say "oh no, thank you" and I'd be on my way, worried about being an inconvenience. Plus I had brought nothing with me to share so I was too embarrassed to take food or time from them without anything in return.

But I made up my mind this past year to enjoy people's presence for its own sake no matter how anxiety-inducing it may seem. There on their front porch, I decided to silence the voices in my mind telling me to leave and I accepted the invitation to stay. And you know what? I'm so glad I did. The wife and I talked about children, and marriage, and how hard the last year had been on both our families. Then we laughed as we shared that we are both introverts and love our quiet spaces. We played wi…

Beautiful Things

I grew up with a mom who loves beautiful things. Her room is a treasure trove of drawers lined with velvet boxes of sparkling things to wear, mirrored trays of delicious perfumes to dab on wrists, a bed of feathered pillows to sink into, and a walk-in closet lined neatly with every kind of shoe imaginable. Growing up with her was like growing up with a queen in a castle. 

As I grew into a teenager, a lot of the wonder of my mom's way of life began to lose its appeal. I saw how hard she worked to own all the things she wanted. I saw how much time it took to clean silver, and wool, and delicate hand-painted porcelain. And I started to feel that I wanted to spend my life doing other things with my time. 
My first experience with what I now know is called a minimalist lifestyle, was when I nannied for a toddler whose parents were missionaries. They slept on mattresses on the floor, had only one bowl, one cup, and a set of silverware for each person in the family, and they bought rice a…