Kent and I have been together for over 10 years. We still struggle with a few fundamental things. It is said that communication and money challenges are the biggest hurdles for couples. When it came to finances, we had our share of “conversations” about how much we were saving and how much we were spending. Within three years of our relationship, we came up with a plan. We developed a monthly budget and stuck to it. In fact, to this day we have monthly budget meetings to talk about what worked and what didn’t work for the previous month and what changes need to be made for the following month. One month at a time, we develop a plan, we communicate our concerns and viewpoints about how the money is being allocated and we change our behaviors accordingly.
We had another breakthrough this week. We had been having this conversation over and over again. We argued over who was taking out the garbage, feeding the dog, making meals and more! The only thing that we really knew for sure is that we both had a certain way we wanted the house to be kept. We finally identified we were at a breaking point. We were so tired of having the same conversation over and over again and expecting different results. (hello, insanity?!) So, I jumped on Excel and noted all the daily, weekly and monthly household tasks. Kent joined me and added a few tasks that were missing. We worked together to come up with a plan that made sense and that helps us better serve each other. The result? Well, it’s a new system. We are on day six and we are still learning what our responsibilities are and on which day they should be accomplished. That being said, we both typically get up and check the plan before doing anything. We are also communicating the night before to learn what the other person needs. For example, he had a meeting at 7 a.m. today. He asked if I needed breakfast before that. I didn’t. So, when he was done with his meeting he came home and made breakfast. Now, every other day I get to sleep in, walk the dog and get coffee and every other day he gets to do the same. We had finally created a “plan” for household chores. Yes, it is literally a “chore chart.” We talked about using this chart as a tool for years. Why did we wait so long to do something this simple? Why were we so stubborn? Did we feel shame or guilt that we would have to be so intentional with how things got done around the house? Probably.
This recent breakthrough reminded me of how conversations about money can spin out of control. We can keep spending the same unintentional ways without realizing how easy and liberating as it could be to set up a budget and use it as a tool. As cheesy as the chore chart sounds, it’s a tool, just like the budget. It helps us be clear and focused on what is important to us. We are communicating more to make sure we are both happy about the progress being made. I’m sure, just like the budget it will take us a few months to get into this new rhythm. I only wish that we wouldn’t have waited so long to add clarity to our communications and expectations.
My prayer for all of us? That we are willing to evolve, grow, and change. That we won’t get stuck in a pattern of behavior that doesn’t serve us well. If it’s videogames eating up a chunk of your budget that should be going to pay off debt or saving for retirement, establish some boundaries or expectations for yourself. Spend only $25 instead of $65. If it’s uncertainty about the future of a relationship, may we lean in and learn more. May we be open to new ideas, no matter how ridiculous they may sound in the moment.