This week is my 14th wedding anniversary and I’m going to write on marriage related topics. This one is my opinion about financial management in a marriage – obviously.
I started thinking about this during my teen years before I even knew who my husband would be, and decided that if my husband wanted me to be a SAHM then he would manage the finances. My dad managed the household income with input from my mom and it worked out fine. I saw other couples [leaving out names] where the SAHM was left to worry over the income that she was to manage while the husband went and bought what he wanted. I made my easy decision that I would not manage the finances after marriage.
Then I got married.
I loved my husband [even more now!] but he was not a budget-making money expert. He was more of a throw-everything-in-the-box and dig for it when they call about the bill being late. It was rough. I was the one at home with only a small income when the electricity was turned off and they charged us $40 plus the bill to get it back on. Forty dollars was a lot for us! And so you know that I wasn’t the best new wife I’ll tell you what I did when that happened. I locked myself in the bathroom and threw the soap and shampoo bottles while screaming and crying. I didn’t realize that the hinges were on the outside of the door. My husband calmly took the door of the hinges and came in to hug me. We made it through that storm.
That was where my decision to not manage the finances got me. Every week I reminded myself of what I had decided: if he wanted me to stay home then he had to manage the finances.
I was also the one at home when the mailman knocked at the door to ask for a signature on the foreclosure notice. That day I sat on the kitchen floor crying into the phone [that's as far as the cord reached because the phone was attached to the wall - remember them?]. I had called my father-in-law because I didn’t know how to get through to my husband and hoped he would. I still didn’t touch the bill box.
Somewhere around that time I read Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin. She says something along the lines of this [it's been a while okay?]: If the man is making the money, but not seeing the debts he goes happily along his way, buying what he wants, and not understanding why the wife always wants more money. But if the man is managing the money he can easily see when things are ok, when he needs to work overtime, or even get another job. It takes the burden off the wife and puts it on the supporter of the home where it should be.
That solidified my decision and gave me the purpose I needed to not take over the bills. Would me taking over the finances have helped at that time? Probably, but it would have been harder later.
We did not lose the house, and I believe that was the turning point for my husband. We weathered some more storms. Now he manages the finances just fine, and we even have a casual budget and plan to decrease debt.We still have struggles, but we were able to buy this house almost 6 months ago and I can trust that he will take care of the finances. He is happier when I’m not stressed about money, and I am quite happy to have a grocery/household budget and just talk over the other things with him.
I urge you girls to think about it if you are thinking of marriage. I encourage you women to talk to your husband about it if you are already married. I’ll even be bold enough to tell you men that support your family that you should be managing the finances. I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m saying it will be worth it and your marriage/family will be stronger for it.