Friday, June 29, 2012

MMS: What's Mine is Mine & What's Yours is...Mine

I like to bet. 
And I would put money down that nobody has ever said the words,
"Man, I wish my spouse would micromanage the way I spend money."

I feel I can speak a little about managing finances in marriage because we have been DINKs (dual income, no kids), and SINKs (single income, not as fun).

Rewind 5 years...

When Brian and I graduated college, we took jobs at the same company, and made the exact same salary.
Cheers -- equality for women!
(Although for the record, I don't know why those women fought so hard for it because now not only do we have to cook, clean, and raise children, we are also expected to work and stay in shape) 

Throughout our time dating, Brian would pick up most things, and I would contribute from time to time.  After a couple of years, once we had discussed marriage, it was pretty much whomever reached their wallet first.  And though we didn't live together or combine finances until we were married, we had had the awkward conversations all couples MUST have about the way we view money -- how it should be spent, tithing, what's important, saving, etc.  And we were on the same page! 

Fast forward 2 years...

I brought home some dresses.   
The conversation went something like this...

"Wow, why did you buy 5 dresses?"
"Because we have weddings."
"And you NEED 5 dresses?"
"Well I NEED food, water, and shelter.  But I WANT 5 dresses."
"That's a waste."
"Why is it a waste?"
"Because it's wasteful to have 5 new dresses."
"And golf weekend wasn't a waste?"
"Why? It seems like a waste to me."
"That's different."

I won't bore you with the rest, but it got a little ugly.  
Ugly enough that I remember this argument from 3 years ago.  
Did I really need 5 dresses?
Absolutely not, and I would never buy 5 now.  So yes, it was a waste. 
And honestly, I didn't intend to keep them all...until after Brian started asking about them.  

Do you see what transpired from our discussion? 
Going back and forth and dragging up what the other person had deemed as valuable.
To me, having a physical dress provided value, and golf was a waste.
To Brian, the dress seemed like a waste and his day on the golf course had provided value.
But the point is not that Brian needs to value my dress and I need to value his golfing...
The point is that I need to value what is important to Brian and vice versa, and respect what he chooses to spend money on.

Don't get me wrong, you can and should speak up about what the other person is spending from time to time.  And you should absolutely discuss big things so that resentment doesn't build and you don't wind up with some crazy debt.  But be respectful and courteous and don't attack their choices.  Try to understand where they are coming from and just because something seems frivolous to you, it may not to them.    

Fast forward 1 year...

Brian quits work in July 2010 before he starts school full-time.
We had never been happier than when we started truly viewing everything as "ours", even though we had less to work with.
There is a great partnership that is formed when you are sharing resources and working as a team. 
And my biggest warning to anyone who is married, getting married, plans to get married, is that you should do everything in your power to view your finances as a partnership. 
That means that even if you make twice as much as your spouse, your money is no more yours than it is theirs.
 Besides, you never know when the tides could turn.
And how would you feel if they viewed the money as theirs?

It's hard to part with what feels like "mine".
It's hard to see the fruits of your labor go towards something you may not experience in a direct/tangible way.
But, what good is something if you can't share it with someone you love?
No good at all.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

MMS: Timing is Everything

I scratched my original plan for today’s post after a disagreement had last night. 
Sometimes things just fall right into your lap and you can either use it or lose it.
In this case, I lost it a little bit and then decided to use it.

Yesterday evening, Brian invited me to join him outside in the hot tub for a little relaxation.
The moon was out and the stars were bright.
I climbed in to join him,
Excited and ready,
To talk business.

What? Don't judge. 
It seemed like the perfect opportunity to discuss an upcoming business venture we are going to be embarking on.
I got comfortable and anticipated a smooth chat with my husband.
He has said he wanted my input throughout, but I had made it pretty clear that I will be minimally involved, but appreciate my opinion being valued when I choose to give it.

I wanted to talk about the timing of something. 
And he listened to my point, gave me what felt like a half-hearted response, and rolled his eyes at me when I insisted asked for more.
Oh no he didn't.
Y'all...I do not take kindly to eye rolling or anything I deem to be condescending.
And because Brian is truly the smartest human I know, sometimes I feel talked down to.
Especially when it involves finance or business...his specialties.

I was far better at displaying my feelings than usual, probably because I felt completely "in the right."  I climbed out (rather dramatically), told him I'd expected a better response, and walked inside to do laundry [insert hair toss].
Hint: when your husband upsets you and then you do something nice, he usually feels even worse...therefore speeding up the apology.

Wait for it. Wait for it. Never came.
He waltzed in, happy as a lark, showered with that clean towel I just set out, and proceeded to watch ESPN.
I was puzzled. By puzzled, I mean livid.
I spent a few minutes angry, got distracted by the Bachelorette, and then felt...sad.
He was wrong. Right?

Here is where I get to my point.
Was he really wrong?
I don't believe he should have rolled his eyes at me.
I don't believe he should have showed such a lack of interest in my opinion.
But where one seems to be so clearly at fault, there is usually an equal contributor.

So where did I screw up?

That's what I missed.
How ironic, since that was the very topic I chose to bring up.
I missed the signals I so desperately expect him to always naturally get from me.
Brian just wanted to spend some one-on-one time with me and I took it and made it businessy.
Not only did he feel blindsided that I even had an opinion on this topic, but he felt like I wasn't listening nor was I trusting him to lead this. I just out of the blue expected him to listen to me when I felt like being heard.

So who owes who the apology?
I think my actions cut deeper and at the end of the day I disrespected him more than he did me.
So I took the punch.
It felt bittersweet at first, as apologies often do, but great after, as they always do.

So the takeaway from this is that I am the wife of the year.
No, I just had a good moment and these are rare so I am savoring it.

The real takeaway is that you have to get timing right in a lot of things in life, especially marriage, on the big and the small things.  Knowing when to tell her that the black dress looks better than the red is just as important as knowing when to talk about investments.  The benefit of marriage is that we get to know our spouse more than anyone else in the world ever will.  With that power comes the responsibility of seeking out what they need from you at any given time, and doing your best to give them that when you can.

But good luck, because this one is tough!

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Marriage Series: Build the Right Foundation

Before I hit "publish" I asked my sister if I could title this post "Make Your Marriage a Threesome."
She said that may not be a good idea. 
A threesome is really just a group of three engaging in the same activity, so I can't imagine who wouldn't think I am clearly referring to Jesus??

But at the very heart of what I believe to be the single most important thing that a marriage should consist of, it is having Christ at the center.  And I say this for two reasons:

1) The Bible makes it clear in Ecclesiastes 4:12 -
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. 
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


2)  If Jesus was not the foundation of mine and Brian’s marriage, we just wouldn't make it. And I have no shame at all in saying that, because there is not an ounce of me that doesn’t believe it is true.

If you try to braid your hair with two strands, it unravels.  It will not stay together and eventually pulls apart, leaving it looking wavy and ugly.  But when you braid your hair with three strands, it stays together, tightly, because the middle strand, though barely visible to the naked eye, binds it together.  The braid is a perfect illustration of marriage in many ways. 

When we love Christ and keep him #1, He gives us the capacity to love the people in our lives the way we need to. 

We are not designed to unconditionally love our spouse.  The unconditional love that God has for us is not something we are able to repeat on our own, because we are flawed and selfish.  The ability to put someone else above you, look to them to lead you through life, respect them even when they are being stupid, and love them even when you are mad, for the course of your whole life, can only be done with God. 

And I know this to be true in my own experiences. 
I have come to find that my relationship with Brian is 100% tied to how I am feeling in my relationship with Jesus. 

When I go through my spells of being lazy and not praying like I should, I see it reflected in my marriage.  When I choose to not go to God for guidance and do not put my trust in Him, it is clearly repeated with Brian.  And eventually, I'm doing what Sara wants when she feels like it, and putting all things Brian on the back burner.   
And we suffer. 
Will all marriages fail on earth if the couple does not have Jesus at the center or believe in Him? 
I don't believe so. 
I can only speak from my own experiences and say that mine would. 
But there is hope!
Because He is gracious and good and always there to help us get back on the right path when we get a little off course. 

You just have to ask Him :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Marriage & Work

Hello Friends!
I'm guest blogging over here today...

Gratefully Inspired

...sharing one of my favorite lessons learned in marriage, so head on over and read the other posts shared this week.  I loved following Denise's series and took away some new tips from the other writers.

I had such a difficult time deciding which of the 27585038 lessons learned I wanted to share, that I decided to continue the theme back over here tomorrow, and wrap it up with the absolute most important thing I am sure will change your life if you let it.  It did for Brian and me!


I took a little hiatus from the blogging world to celebrate my 5th anniversary at work.
Not really. 
That's just the best excuse I can come up with for my long break. 
I did celebrate it on Monday by wearing my June 18th shirt. 
Sadly, I'm not kidding.
I bought a black and white blouse 5 years ago when I was going in for my final interview, and I got the job!
Since that had to be pure luck combined with the grace of God, I appointed it my lucky shirt, and wore it my first day. 
Proved to be less than lucky since I fell down the steps and poured orange juice all over the breakfast table. 
But I must have forgotten the following year, because I decided to wear it to celebrate my first anniversary (yay, I survived!), and again each June 18th since :)
So happy anniversary to my blouse and company!


Two very dear friends had babies within the past couple of weeks, and I cannot wait to share pictures of how beautiful they are!
Not all babies are very cute upon arrival, but these three truly are.
It is an amazing feeling to know that a new life has come into the world and been blessed to have absolutely incredible parents. 
The kind who will give up everything to make them happy and will raise them to be the type of people you want to be around.

Congratulations to the new parents, Chris & Ashley, and Jay & Anni.
I couldn't be more excited for you :) 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Orange Cats & Random Fridays

Friday took her sweet time this week, but she's finally upon us!
This weekend I need to spend a little QT unpacking some boxes and suitcases.
They greet me every morning and don't seem to want to go anywhere.
I guess I should be flattered.

I keep meaning to post pictures from May -- family visits, graduation, moves -- busy month.

My problem with this is that we load pictures onto Brian's computer.
I rarely use Brian's computer because I never know where it is and Macs frustrate me.
Whenever I actually wish to do something with the pictures, it seems to be when I have no way to do so.
Kind of like craving chic-fil-a on Sundays.

My sister rescued and fostered a mama cat and her kitten a few weeks back.
Kate travels for work every week so her friend offered to take care of the cats while she's away.
Mama cat got a little sick on Monday -- on every surface of Kate's apartment. 
No, I'm lying. 
One room was spared.
I received a frantic call from Katie pleading that I go and clean up the mess.
I grabbed my mother-in-law's carpet cleaner, some chemicals, and headed off to what I assumed would be a quick job.
I like to clean.
I wrote before about my first job cleaning apartments after tenants moved out.
I thought I had seen it all.
I had not.
Dresser, nightstand, bedding, couches, chairs, tables, bathtub, closet, doors. 
There was no way to do this job without professional equipment, so a cleaning company came in to do everything her roommate and I weren't able to.
Dad drove to Charlotte that night to pick up the cats.
After some vet work and a few nights rest, Mom and I took them to their new home in Winston-Salem where they will hopefully be very happy.

Who doesn't love a fluffy orange kitten? 

Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Become Psychologically Flexible

Things look a little better over here, don't ya think?
Hannah from 17 in heart did a beautiful job with the facelift! 

How are things? I just haven't been in a writing mood lately.  I have yet to upload the pictures from NYC and at the end of the work days lately, have not wanted anything to do with a computer. 
C'est la vie.

But, I got a little inspiration yesterday! As I sat in the doctor's office, I picked up a Ladies Journal and quickly skimmed the pages. 
I came across the best article that instantly motivated me to become psychologically flexible
Essentially, we are happier and more fulfilled in life when we strive to let go, embrace, and teach our minds to be flexible. 

Last night as I dined with some fine ladies, we got to chatting about dogs.  Now, I love EVERY dog, and not only do I love every dog, I love every animal period, with the exception of centipedes and cockroaches.  But I have always considered myself to naturally be more of a "big dog person".  As we prepare for our move to Arizona, where I will likely make frequent flights back and forth from the west coast to the east, easily traveling with a Great Dane may prove to be somewhat impossible. 
But why do I have to be a big dog person anyways?
Because I told myself one day that I was?

I think I dislike football.  I got it in my head nine years ago that football is not for me and can only be enjoyed after an over-consumption of alcohol and cell phone games.  After I decided that football was not for me, I gave up trying to enjoy it.  Instead I sit there and create new challenges like "how much food can I consume during one game?" and alternate between pizza and nachos. 
But, why do I have to dislike football?
Because I told myself one day that I did?

I am a big dog person who dislikes football because I am not psychologically flexible in many ways. 
Unable to see myself in a new light and embrace a new challenge, due to determining I am not the type of person to do that or like that. 
A football game is 4 hours of my life! I can do anything for 4 hours and so can you. 
How many great times do we miss out on because we refuse to let go, embrace, and teach our minds to be flexible?

Cheers to becoming psychologically flexible
I have no doubt doing so will add years of fun to life :)