Till Money Do Us Part

Blog / Produced by The High Calling

“I can’t do this anymore!” he says through clenched teeth. His hands clutch the dark waves of hair now mixed with a hint of gray. I try swallowing the lump in my throat.

In our nearly five and a half years of marriage, Peter has been the family CFO. It’s a title he’s wanted to relinquish many times, particularly on days when bills loomed large and paychecks had been long spent.

“You do it, please?” he’d ask.

So far I’d been successful at dodging the requests. My triumph saved me from the monotonous routine of paying bills, but at a cost. I didn’t realize that Peter’s repeated appeals had little to do with numbers in our bank account or due dates on the calendar. They certainly had nothing to do with his capabilities.

He simply wanted help. By refusing, I planted seeds of resentment that were now coming to harvest. We decided to see a counselor.

We sit next to each other on the sofa, but we’re careful to maintain our walls. The inches between us could just as easily be miles. Slowly and with expertise, Susan helps us unravel the knotted threads of a once beautiful tapestry. I admit my fear. I’m afraid I’ll make mistakes, overlook a bill or ruin the credit rating he’s been so diligent to protect. My track record is less than stellar.

Susan doesn’t let me stop there. She looks right through me and asks, “What are you really afraid of?” The old lies resurface—the ones about perfection and being good enough; the ones that lead to “What if?”

What if this is the end? What if his earlier pronouncement has less to do with being CFO and more to do with marriage vows ending when things get tough? I’ve been on that journey before and the path was more difficult than any I’ve known.

I try to suppress the tears but they come anyway. Even though he’s angry with me for refusing to help, Peter reminds me that he’s totally committed to our marriage. I exhale, trying to release the build-up of anxiety that comes from months of arguing. Susan helps us navigate a plan that seems manageable. She also prescribes the simple, daily practice of expressing appreciation to one another. We try it, searching for recent moments worth repeating.

“Peter, when you dance with me in the kitchen, I feel cherished.”

“Cheryl, when you iron my shirts, I feel cared for.”

The exercise feels awkward, contrived, and completely unrelated to the business of CFOs. Until last week. I did a little research after our session with Susan and we discovered a personal finance tool that meets our needs. As we prepared for our first financial coaching session, I received this note:

“Cheryl, Thank you for committing yourself to our finances. It means so much to me and I can feel the anxiety and worry slowly dissipating. I love you.”

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The "I Do" Collection

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Image by Trent McBride. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post by Cheryl Smith.