By Colleen Hammond
When I renounced my career in favor of being a stay-at-home-mother ten years ago, Dennis and I knew we would suffer a major loss of income.
Since the beginning of our marriage, I had handled the finances and made all the financial decisions. Controlling the finances had always been an emotional experience for me, as the budget never seemed to go as planned. It had become downright stressful and depressing.
After three years of trying to make ends meet, one day I broke down. “I can’t do it anymore,” I wailed, throwing the checkbook and bills on the counter next to Dennis. “Trying to handle the finances is stressing me out, and I’m overwhelmed. Will you please take it over?”
Like a prince slaying a dragon, my loving husband honored my cry for help and scooped up the checkbook.
“Do you want to know anything about our finances?” he asked.
“Nope. I surrender it all to you. Do with it what you will,” I said with a wave of my hand as I walked away.
At first, I felt very vulnerable. Money is, ultimately, about power. Would I have any money to spend? Would the bills be paid on time? Would Dennis save for retirement, or would he come home next week in a two-seater candy-apple-red sports car?
Dennis did not handle the finances like I did, and it made me uncomfortable. He sat down once a month to pay bills. That meant that some bills were paid weeks early, yet others were late. He did not file the paid receipts like I did — dated, in calendar order, paper clipped together, and with the check number on them.
It was hard for me to not offer unsolicited advice, but at least he was handling the bills and not me. I bit my tongue. After all, he had trusted me with the finances all those years and never once complained. If he could trust me, I could certainly trust him.
What amazed me was how he could handle our meager finances with such detachment, whereas I had been so emotional. While reading some essays by Edith Stein, a paragraph caught my eye. In it, she states that form the beginning of time, the struggle for daily existence was allocated primarily to the man. He has the bodily strength, the ability of abstract thought, and independent creativity to carry out his task. The struggles of childbirth were given to the woman, who has the gifts of feeling, intuition, empathy, and adaptability. Consequently, when I was handling the finances, I was emotional about the entire process. Dennis, on the other hand, can look at the numbers in an analytical manner and simply crunch them.
Now that my Knight in Shining Armor has taken over the finances, some wonderful things have happened. The first thing is that I still have money to spend, but with none of the stress. No more paying bills, balancing the checkbook, or worrying about whether or not we have enough money to pay the mortgage — let alone unexpected expenses. I am stress free and invigorated!
Second, Dennis is very generous with me and enjoys using his “independent creativity” to surprise and spoil me with gifts. Back when I was handling the finances, if Dennis wanted extra money he would have to check with me to see where we stood financially. How could he ever surprise me that way? I am learning to receive his gifts graciously, and do not ask where the money came from to afford such extravagance.
The third wonder thing is that my confidence, respect, and love for Dennis has grown. As part of God’s plan for our lives, Dennis provides for the family, manages the money, and handles the concern and worry attached to his position. After all, most men are genetically predisposed to the abstract thought requirements of handling money. In turn, I cooperate with Dennis’ plan, am thrifty, and provide a loving home in which to raise our children.
Over the past seven years that Dennis has been handling the finances, his God-given masculine traits have added stability to our finances and our lives. I am relaxed, more trusting of him, have more time to spend with the children, more free time of my own, less stress, a greater sense of being cared for, more romance, and more gifts.
And I have yet to see a red sports car in our driveway.
Copyright Colleen M. Hammond 2003