Keeping $$ Honest

So wow, it’s Thursday already.  My in-laws arrive on Saturday!  They are staying until the next Friday so they will be here for Patrick’s change of command, his birthday and Memorial Day.  How did we fit so much excitement into 3 days?  It will be like a week-long double date.

Patrick and I are really, really fortunate – both our sets of parents have longterm marriages; both couples have been married for more than a quarter century.  I won’t be any more specific than that because I’ll get in trouble if I make them sound old (:

We’ve learned a lot from our parents.  We’ve integrated much of who they are as individuals and as couples into our personalities and relationship.  Usually, that’s good.  But it’s best to never tell your spouse, “You are just like your dad (or mom)!”

I read an article in Redbook recently called, “New money rules for couples.”  It is a well-known fact that financial problems are one of the primary causes of marital distress.  This article proposed three different ways of managing money in marriage: 1) the couple has a joint bank account but each one has their own separate account as well 2) completely joint bank accounts with full disclosure about all expenses 3) the couple keeps everything separate.

WHAT DO YOU DO?  According to this article, 41% of the women interviewed fall into category 1.  Followed by 38% who have completely joint accounts, and finally 21% keep everything separate.

My husband and I do what both sets of our parents have done – we share everything and tell each other about all expenses.  Patrick is the bread-winner.  His job as an Army officer more than comfortably provides for both of us.  (Thanks, Babe!)  In fact, I have had numerous part and full-time jobs since we got married but they are always fun jobs, doing exactly what I want to do at the time, regardless of compensation.

I think this started in part because he deployed two months after we got married.  Instantly, there was so much to do having bought a new home in a new state with a new identity for me (military spouse as opposed to single civilian).  I learned to budget, invest, pay our taxes, maintain a home and two cars and participate in the Army lifestyle.  I established pin numbers and security codes.  Ever since then, because he may leave again for any length of time at any time, I have continued to manage our finances.

(That part is a little backward from the way we grew up.  Our parents were very conventional with the husband managing the checkbook. So, we did develop our own style!)

Patrick and I have tried a million ways of tracking our expenses, budgeting, saving, etc.  How do you do it?

Just Say It

There are two kinds of lies: lies of commission and lies omission.

“No Father, I didn’t chop down the cherry tree,” a slight twist on Abe Lincoln’s story, but the perfect example of a lie of commission.

“What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” the quintessential lie of omission.  Inevitably, it will hurt her and you will pay for it.  But let’s consider another kind of omissive lie.

I make it a point to ALWAYS compliment someone on the smallest deserving quality.  I am not advocating flattery – that hurts and you will pay for that too.  But, why not tell the checkout lady that she has lovely blue eyes?  Why not point out that your husband looks smashing in his uniform, chest ablaze with medals and ribbons?  Why not tell someone that you notice they are always smiling and that it makes you happy every time you see them?

If a lie is simply the opposite of the truth, then keeping these simple, one-liners to yourself is in essence, a lie.  And if I a lie is hurtful, then telling these tiny truths can only bless someone.

Try it!  Start by complimenting your spouse today.  There is one exceptional thing about them, say so.  It doesn’t have to be profound, but I promise your marriage will be profoundly affected.

Come back and tell me what you said.  I’ll be your accountability partner!

I Don’t Know

Monday I talked about the sincerity of our marriage vows.  Obviously, honesty is important in the course of a marriage as well.  Do you believe everything your husband tells you?  Should he believe everything you say?

My husband is the most honorable man I know.  Particularly in his job as an Army officer, he displays nearly flawless integrity, respect, wisdom and humility.  Therefore, this is not meant as a complaint, simply an honest observation.  Perhaps you have made the same one.

“I did check to see if your show was on.  It’s not, so I figured we’d watch Battle Star Galactica.” Hmmm…  “I will take the trash out later.”  “I only spent $30 on Copenhagen last week.”  Right…

And his favorite response to any question I pose.  In fact, I think it comprises at least 50% of his vocabulary, “I don’t know, maybe.”  That is the easiest, tiny little smudge of the truth that works conveniently in many situations.  Please, just tell me now!