Monday, June 25, 2012

Money Matters

I never bought into the idea that another person would “complete” me, which contradicts most romantic comedies including the famous Jerry Maguire scene that made women—and some men—swoon. The concept of one person fulfilling another's needs is both dangerous and ridiculous. The term soul mate is thrown around all the time for cards, movies, and country music and people eat this shit up. The rest of us just throw up a little in our mouths.

I think, however, one should be a fully developed entity that finds another complimentary and completed entity in which to join in partnership. Like, two random (and whole) shapes that happen to fit ever-so-nicely with another random (and whole) shape.

Kind of like this, except I'm not into threesomes.  Just take one away mentally.  

My husband—and complimentary partner in life-- P, and I married almost a year ago. Even putting the wedding together was evidence that this union worked. P and I spent countless hours in preparation searching online, created, addressed and stamped invitations, traveled to a thousand locations around the city for supplies, prepared our own potato salad (huge mistake), and finally on June 11th, we celebrated with 150 of our favorite people. Despite our tight budget and the outrageous prices of anything labeled "wedding," we put together quite an event—even if I am totally biased.

Then, real life began. Knowing how well we worked together I wasn't afraid of spending the rest of my life with this man. However, I was terrified to give him my ATM PIN number.

That’s right.

I’d committed my life to one person, “to have and to hold, in sickness and in health. ” We’d even talked about our hypothetical children and what kind of parents we'd be.  I'll be neurotic and he'll help with math homework.  Then what we’d be like as grandparents. I already really dig Luby's, naps, and yelling at young people. He likes to be asleep before 9 PM.

So why did he need access to my bank? Why was he really asking about the balance on my credit card?

The reality was I’d been (poorly) handling my own affairs for years including my finances, as I am a grown ass woman. I was making a decent living, but I still had my college loan to pay off, a car payment, and the seemingly insurmountable credit card debt. Damn you interest. Damn you! These were my deep dark secrets that I’d alluded to but didn’t really want to discuss--EVER. My plan was just to slowly take care of it and in about thirty years, then I could talk to him about what still remained.

So, what happens in a partnership? Well, apparently you have to share, which means specifically you have to be honest and open.

I don’t like to be honest and open about money.


I was embarrassed and ashamed. This was my debt—my life—my problem. I should be the one to suffer the consequences and pay off my own debts. But my new husband lovingly responded that this was not my problem—this was our current situation. I had to learn the challenging lesson of letting go of my own pride and allowing someone to help me even though it made me uncomfortable. We joined our bank accounts (yikes!) and made a very specific financial budget (whimper...) with a strategic plan for our future. And although we are still paying our bills while trying to save a little, the relief is tremendous.

Do I fear being too reliant on him, depending on him for things that I should be able to do on my own? Absolutely. Hello. I’m constantly taunting myself:

What would happen to you if he wasn’t here?
You don’t even know when to change the oil in your car anymore!
Where's your self-reliance, you pansy?
You are a disgrace to women because it took a man to fix it.

But then I tell the mean bitch inside my head to shut up and enjoy relying on someone else for a change, because P is here for me now.

It’s not about giving in, or compromising core values, but rather it’s about shedding characteristics or mannerisms that don’t support the success of your partnership. In my attempt to be independent I was actually just trembling in my boots. I shouldn't live a life questioning the “what if” scenarios because that's not fully embracing life. In letting go of my ego just a tiny bit, I was able to gain so much more.

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