In mid-October our family went down to living on one income. Unlike many families these past few years, we were fortunate in that we knew for a few months that it was coming.
Still, it’s been an adjustment. While we’ve always operated on a budget, we were also a bit more flexible in our spending – because we could be. Leading up to October my husband and I have had to refine (and refine and refine) our budget. It’s definitely been a struggle. We’ve disagreed, I’ve cried out of frustration and we’ve both learned many lessons.
There have been studies in recent years linking financial arguments to divorce, and I can see how that can happen. Spouses can have differing spending styles, differing expectations on how much should be saved and differing responses to financial stress. Thankfully, my husband and I have always been frugal people. Our disagreements aren’t about how money should be spent or not spent, but stem from another age-old relationship issue: communication. Where I will be subtracting numbers to find out how much money is left for the month, he’s the one adding numbers together. Where he can do it all in his head, I need to see the numbers on paper for it to make sense to me.
Many of our difficulties occurred in the early budgeting stages. However, things got a lot easier once we figured out that we really were on the same page, but just approaching the process differently. What was once a process I dreaded, suddenly became a bonding opportunity between my husband and me. Our dreams and goals became clearer, our love for each other became stronger as we worked to communicate our thoughts in a way the other could understand, and the sacrifices we’ve made became more meaningful as we’ve planned for our family and future.
Now, this doesn’t mean that budgeting has all of a sudden become easy. Each month we still need to have many discussions about the budget. However, I now look forward to those moments. We talk about our dream to buy some land and build our own little dream home. We talk about our desire to grow our family. We talk about our plans to travel during retirement.
It’s in those moments, thinking about all the memories I have yet to make with my husband, that I fall in love with him all over again. Those moments keep everything in perspective as well, serving as a reminder that while things like budgeting can stretch us and cause conflict in our relationship, they also give us the opportunity to grow in our marriage and deepen our commitment to one another.