For the first several years of our marriage, my husband and I had very little money.
Though our income has contracted and expanded over the years, we continue to be happy together because we invest in our relationship first. We’ve known couples who spend long hours trying to get ahead at work, only for their marriages to fail. So when it comes to decisions about what job to take (or even if one of us was going to take a job at all), we always looked at how it was going to affect our time together as a family.
One year, when my husband was working as a freelancer and I worked in an office, the economy went down and my husband was no longer getting commissions. He found a job, but it meant less flexible hours. If I kept my job, that meant that we would have to pay for childcare. After doing the math, we realized I would basically be working to pay for daycare. We considered the possibility of me finding a different job with opposite hours from my husband’s.
As we discussed this option though, we were both worried about it.
If he worked days and I worked evenings and weekends, when would we have time together as a family? When would we have time together as a couple?
So we explored different options. We discovered that if we lived very simply, we could make it on just his income. So I quit my job and didn’t look for another one. We haven’t always had the option to have one of us stay home, but at this time we were able to make it work.
We did without things we used to think were necessities and got creative when it came to real needs. All our clothes were second-hand. We handmade all our gifts. I learned to bake my own bread, make my own laundry soap, and make nutritious, but inexpensive meals rather than easy convenience foods. Eating out? Yeah right!
Even though my husband is the sole breadwinner, he doesn’t put in endless hours of overtime at his job if it’s not an absolute necessity. We need his presence in our lives. Our children need to be able to play with him and have him involved in their care as much as they need me. I need his help too and I need to be able to have fun with him and have time to connect with him.
This adjustment was difficult, but I don’t regret it. As they say, money can’t buy happiness. The lure of making more money shouldn’t take priority over the time spent nurturing family relationships.
Each family’s circumstances are different, so their decisions might look different than ours. What matters is that you prioritize each other. That’s what makes a marriage work.
We’ve certainly made our share of sacrifices to preserve our time together, but I’ve always been glad we did. We’re not wealthy, but we are rich in the ways it matters most.
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