I was describing how I used to hide our debt from my wife this past Saturday in an interview with Gerri Detweiler on Talk Credit Radio, when I said the words:
“I betrayed her trust, and it’s taken a long time to recover from that. In fact, we’re still recovering from it.”
I may have typed similar words before in a blog post or two, but I don’t recall ever ever having said the words out loud. I didn’t particularly like how they sounded, but they were true. The magnitude of our debt had been a huge secret for many years, and the nasty thing about secrets is that they eat at you, and after awhile they consume you.
I remember hurrying home from work in order to get the mail first or signing up for electronic statements so she wouldn’t see the balances. I remember dreading conversations that began with, “So, how are we doing with our money?” My answer was always, “Fine. We have some credit card debt, but we’re handling it.” Which, of course, was an outright lie.
Then yesterday the subject of the sermon at my church was marriage. The pastor compared marriage to two oxen in the olden days being yoked together, working and walking side by side. Hearing that comparison, and remembering the words said during the radio interview, I realized that I hadn’t just been ruining our finances, I was undermining our entire marriage.
As a couple, we hadn’t been walking side by side.
As the last three years have gone by, with each improvement in our communication about our finances, our relationship has gotten stronger, and we have become happier as a couple. Every morning, Vonnie comes down the stairs, grabs her morning coffee and sits on a stool at the kitchen counter in front of our laptop. She checks Facebook, her email, and then logs into our online banking portal. Together we review what additions or subtractions had posted during the night, how much is in the account, and what expenditures are still outstanding. It’s refreshing to talk about what income will be coming in the near future, what bills are due and then plan together what we want to do with what’s left over.
Honestly, having open conversations about our finances takes much less energy, which allows me to redirect that energy towards enjoying my marriage. Instead of being consumed about how I’m going to do the next financial swizzle to increase our available funds, I can enjoy spending time with my kids. When Vonnie and jointly budget a night out, instead of worrying about how much it’s costing us, I can simply enjoy the company of my beautiful wife.
That’s the way its supposed to be, two oxen walking through life, together.