Making your wife happy without breaking the bank

This week’s Wednesday guest post is by none other than my husband, Jeffery W. Ingram. Yes, this is how he refers to himself. Even when he signs a birthday card, he signs “Jeffery W. Ingram.” It’s just one of the many things I love about him. When he approached me a few weeks ago about writing a guest post, I was a little afraid at first. Previous guest posts have been creative takes on shopping with coupons and recipes for guys. This post is a bit more serious (just a bit). I’ve written a few pieces on communication over the years but this is the first time I’ve gotten his perspective. It was very interesting when I read his perspective and led to a good discussion. It helped to open my eyes and made me thing about how I communicate with him. I hope it helps you as well.

I have a great marriage.  My wife is my lover, my think-tank partner, my muse, and my best friend. However, after reading Nick’s article here and his article at the Good Men Project, it got me thinking (a dangerous past time its true).  I was forced to start asking myself some important questions.

Do I really listen?

By listen I mean hear the words and understand what she mean by them.  I know I think I do or else I would ask questions and try to fix her problems.  I love fixing her problems.

I know I am not alone when I say that I might hear my wife.  However, I do not always listen.

Here is recent example of what I heard.

Kristin: “Jeffery so glad you are home.  I know you had a hard long day at work.  While you were doing that, I did the laundry, saved us a billion dollars, cleaned the kitchen, got us some dinner, and saved many children from a burning house.  So I had a hard day as well.”

Jeffery: “Wow, you also did a lot.  We both had a long stressful day darling.  How about we take a break and have some fun, just you and me.  You are the light of my life, you give me hope.”

This would have been the conversion if I listened.

Kristin: “Jeffery, I know you are doing a lot of work.  We both are.  I am sorry to tell you there is a lot of stuff that needs to happen around the house.  I need your help getting it done.”

Jeffery: “I love you. Let me start helping more.”

What my imagination tells me she heard

Kristin: “HELLLLLLLLLLLLLP”

Jeffery: “No”

What I really said, “Wow you did a lot today”

sheHeard

Now, I do try to listen.  However, she is a woman and I am a man.  We are always going to place effort into our communications. However, the main burden is on me.  My instincts lead me through life with a confidence; it helps me make quick and usually good decisions.  However, I need to remember to temper it with reviewing my decisions and seeing how to make better decisions going forward.

I can love my wife without breaking the bank

Since you are on my wife’s blog you know that she is frugal.  Well, I am cheap unless it involves my wife.  I would buy her the Crown Jewels to show her my love. I would take her for dinner and an opera in Rome every night.  It would be easy to spend lots of money on her, unless I listen.  She might be okay with me splurging on her at times.  However, if I go over the top (and I love going over the top), I could go bankrupt pampering her.

Since I started listening to Kristin, I know that my over-the-top pampering would drive her into a stress coma.  I needed a more cost effective way to show my love to her.  My first act was simple. I threw in a load of laundry before I went into work.  It wasn’t much.  However, she told me how happy it made her.

The cost to me was 1 minute in my morning routine; the benefit to her was that the first thing she would not see after waking up was a load of laundry.  If she did, her day would start off thinking about the entire task that needed to happen today and she would have to do it since I was already at work.  It helped free up her mind so she could dream a little more that day, a much better outcome then if I brought her the Crown Jewels. She would have just passed out, losing her mind to the fear of the massive debt I created to buy them.

Let’s add in a little old school

In the past, I wrote numerous love notes to my wife: To K from J, to my angel, or to my perfection were the three models I used.  I had forgotten about them.  I did them when we first met and slowly over the years the frequency declined until I had basically forgotten about it.

I loved doing it.  They were as much for me as they were for her.  I have a hopeless romantic trapped in me.  I still tried to be romantic.  However, my approach changed.  However thanks to a story from my hustle friend, Tricia, I was reminded about the notes.  So, I now randomly place my wife notes in the morning.  Little love notes, to let her know I am thinking about her and to let her know how much she helps me.

So What?

These things might seem little and they are little.  You might be thinking, “Jeepers Jeffery, you spend a freaking two whole minutes a morning starting laundry and write a little note . . . whoopdeefreekingdingdong.”  You would be right; it only takes two whole minutes, maybe three.  However, I feel better and work better.  She feels better and works better and only for the cost of two minutes.  Once it a blue moon you might be able to pull a big wow factor.  Ultimately, the little things are what makes or breaks a marriage.

I hoped you enjoyed.  Want to help me get to three minutes a day being nice to my wife, please comment below and let me know what is the little thing you wish someone would do for you?  And what are the little things you do for your better half.  Heck, if we are lucky I might get up to 5 minutes today.  After you comment, go do a little something for the person you love!

2 Money Habits That Hurt My Marriage

Today’s post is written by Nick Pavlidis. Nick was recently featured on The Good Men Project, asking the one question to tell if you’re a terrible husband.

Nick and I are doing a blog swap today. You can find my post at his site, Step Away from the Mall.

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On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May 2008 my wife and I had a Big Fat Greek Wedding surrounded by 250 of our closest friends and relatives and 4 wedding crashers.

The Sunday thing was my idea to save a few bucks on vendors who would still have Saturday to sell. While I thought that was pretty brilliant at the time, it resulted in several people not making it to our celebration. In hindsight, the wedding was amazing and everyone there had a great time (open bar helped…) but several people had Memorial Day commitments and were missed. (It’s also possible that I’m just unlikable…).

We have made several big and little decisions with money in the years since that day. And since I’m more of the “money guy” in the relationship, I tend to get a little excited about making these decisions. Yet even with a healthy opinion on money and tireless commitment to planning well with money for our future, I still battle two big money habits that have bitten my marriage in the backside more times t
han I’d like to admit.

The bad news is that I allowed these habits to continue. My bum is sore and my marriage has a few scars as well.

But the good news is that overcoming these habits provides incredible opportunities to strengthen our money and marriage over time.

Ok, enough about my tushie. Here are the habits:

1. Not asking for my wife’s opinion

This has come up more than I care to admit. My instinct is to take things off her plate and protect her from some of the stress that’s inherent in making tough money decisions.

That leads me to make decisions without consulting her.

And not only does that make her feel undervalued or unloved, I have no doubt that most of our money mistakes have come from solo decisions.

Her input is fresh and from the perspective of someone who isn’t as much of a “numbers person” as me.

And most of the time that reveals the real-world consequences that some of my “ideas” would have.

Undesired and unintended consequences. Yes, if we put 25% of our take home pay into retirement, another 10% into a college fund for our son, and another 10% into a college fund for our daughter we will be all set in 20 years!

But we will also be pretty skinny because it would not leave much for “food,” after paying our home, car, and other expenses. 🙂

And while I could probably stand to shed a few lbs these days, agreeing to the intensity level with which we work, spend, save, and give, is powerful for our relationship.

She feels more loved and valued. I have an extra opportunity to connect with her. And we often get better results on a plan we both agree to.

Win, win, win.

2. Not trying on my wife’s shoes

I’ve been known to accidentally wear my wife’s socks to work. That’s what happens when you blindly grab a pair of black socks from the clothes basket in the morning on the way out the door.

But when making money decisions I often make them based upon “my logic,” or I agree, but say something stupid about a potential purchase without first taking her size sevens for a spin around the block.

“$25 for a mani-pedi? Isn’t that just paint on nails? Don’t they sell whole jugs of paint with a free brush at the grocery store for $1? I don’t get it, but I’m not going to stop you.”

It turns out I don’t have to get it. But now I do. Because I asked.

My ignorant assessment of the “value” of a mani-pedi fails to take into account the “me time,” “experience,” and “hand or foot massage” that comes with the mani-pedi.

And those are totally “worth” way more than the $25 Wednesday special mani-pedi hits our wallet.

The heartache these could have saved.

I battle these habits every day. I’m a “doer,” which means I like to get just enough information to make an informed decision and move on.

If it’s the right decision, great. If it’s the wrong decision, I’ll make another one.

But marriage and money are about way more than just the “decision.”

The process counts just as much or even more than the result.

And that’s why in school giving the right answer to a math problem only gets you partial credit.

You only get full credit when you “show your work” and get to the answer the right way.

Just like marriage. Getting to decisions the right way will only enhance your relationship, and results.

What’s one money habit that you struggle with that interfere with you connecting with your spouse? And better yet, what can you do today that helps you connect better with your wife about love and money?

Nick Pavlidis is a husband, father, lawyer, and business and life coach whose upcoming book, Confessions of a Terrible Husband: Lessons Learned from a Lumpy Couch, exposes how he became a terrible husband, discovered that he was a terrible husband, took inventory, and committed to becoming better and better each day. He is a proud marriage “nonexpert” who is working tirelessly to improve his marriage in the open so he can insprire, encourage, and equip others to improve theirs. You can get the latest news and Nick’s real-time updates on becoming a better husband at the Confessions of a Terrible Husband blog.

Why you must talk to your spouse about money

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This is something I see far too much in my practice and it needs to stop here.

One spouse pays all the bills and manages the finances. The other spouse is completely in the dark and may or may not be content about their financial situation. The stress this causes on a relationship and on one or both spouses can be a lot to bear. The worst scenario is when the financial spouse dies, leaving the other to track down accounts and insurance, start paying bills and take over the financial responsibility. I find many people in relationships are not talking about money with their partner. I’ve even seen people get married only to find out that their spouse is buried in credit card debt they never knew existed.