Rescuing Marriage from the Money Monster

Above: Thanksgiving amidst the construction

We are renovating our home. Our construction team has discovered problems with the house – poor wiring, water leaks, lack of insulation – that have added to our overall bill and pushed us beyond our already sizable budget.

I’ve been dreaming of creating a home of our own for years. I’ve read articles about how to plan a new build or a renovation, and they all say to leave plenty of room in the budget for the unexpected. But we didn’t. We scaled our plans down but still allotted every penny of our budget for the stuff we wanted. How will we pay for the boring stuff it turns out we need?

I don’t like to admit this – because I’ve done a lot of work on it, and as a coach I feel I ought to have it sorted by now – but I feel weak around money. It isn’t something I feel equal to. Rather, money is an entity to which I submit and which awards me (or doesn’t) capriciously and scarcely.

So, when money becomes a problem, as has happened with this renovation, I go immediately into a spiral of painful thinking: You fool. You baby. You always do this. You always want more than you can afford. You never plan realistically. What’s wrong with you that you don’t earn more money?

Oh, but wait. First, before I even register my painful thinking, I fight with my husband: Another box from Amazon, honey? Really?

Do you do this, too, Reader? Lash out at those around you when you’re in pain? Project all your stuff onto them, finding the speck in their eye while overlooking the plank in your own? When you have the Work, though, this is actually not a bad thing. It’s something you can use to discover the truth about yourself and them.

That’s why our loved ones are our greatest teachers, and why, in the Intimacy Intensive series, we’re going to judge the heck out of them in three interconnected-but-a la carte classes: partners first (Jan. 10 – Feb. 21), then parents (Feb. 28 – Apr. 11), then kids (Apr. 18 – May 30). It may sound counter-intuitive, but judging them is the first step in loving them – and yourself – better and ending your suffering.

Discovering the truth begins with noticing that you’re in pain, and then noticing that you’re trying to pin your pain on someone (i.e. judging your neighbor).

I was mid-way through a dizzying argument with my husband last Saturday – after I’d paid a massive bill from our construction company – before his words woke me up to what I was doing: “You’re not listening,” he said.

That statement was like a bell, recalling for me what I’d recently shared about learning to listen to him and how I suffered in our marriage until I did. So I stopped and listened until he had said his piece.

But, oh! I was raw! Often I am able to listen and, right then, go inside myself and ask where Guy is right. But, as I confessed above, money is a highly charged topic for me, and I was too emotional to process the truth or fiction of what he said to me in that moment. I took refuge in the Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet.

Through the JYN, I discovered that the root of my pain was an unconscious bargain I’d roped us into: I believed that, as long as Guy was the main provider for our family, it was my job to make him happy. You can imagine what a tangle this causes. If he’s unhappy, I’m unhappy; he hides his unhappiness to prevent mine; each of us in the other’s business, rather than looking after our own. (It’s an easy trap to fall into with our intimates).

Through the Work, tension loosed and thoughts untangled. The Money Monster shrunk. I grew, found my footing, and stepped out of his business and into mine.

When I met with Guy again, I felt like a grown up again and more than equal to the task of raising money for our project. My thinking cleared up, our plan came easily. We’re on the same team again.

Money is hard! Relationships are hard! Thankfully the Work is not! It is a step-by-step process that helps you go into the mouth of the beast that haunts you – no matter how large or small it is, or how long it’s been nipping at your heels, or why – and come out the other side stronger and wiser.

My tenacious beast is money. What’s yours? In the Intimacy Intensive Course, Partners Class, we’ll be finding the path to freedom from six bugaboos that come between you and your beloved: money, sex, chores, parenting, communication, and friendship. I’d love for you to join us. Find out more about it here. Registration opens Friday, December 2.

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