Parenting is one of the most challenging subjects that I have to discuss with my husband. It seems like everything I think is best, right, and true is actually quite the opposite in his book. I don’t like the word ‘punishment.’ He feels our children need to be punished for bad behavior. I don’t believe in calling them out on every mistake they make as though they are the end-all, but you can guess his approach. I don’t believe in spanking. He feels the occasional swat teaches a good lesson. I disagree with pointing fingers and talking at them. He claims that a finger in the face reminds them to show respect. Aside from all other things, I am just ‘too’ soft and, quite frankly, I feel he is often ‘too’ hard. What’s more, is because I am a teacher and my MA is in Educational Psychology, I find that even when he does step in, I am stepping on his toes. It was, for these reasons, that, for almost 3 years, he chose to completely step back and used avoidance tactics when it came to how we disciplined. There you have it. Seems to be very little chance to find a middle ground. But, we do. I had to, for my sanity.
How were we able to find a place where both of us were happy you may ask? I can say that much of it goes back to the family roles in our household. I am the modern woman, the supporter, the mother, and the wife, and he is the traditional man, the supporter, the protector, and the husband. It was because I wanted more help from him that I made the decision to step back (a little) and let him use his protective, traditional nature.
As I stepped back and encouraged him to not only be more active with how he interacted with the children but to take more charge in the discipline, I began to follow his lead. By showing him that I trusted him, I found that he was more careful to acknowledge my concerns. I can say he was more conscious of how I felt (especially because it was a battle for so long in our relationship). With that, I found that he took more responsibility in HOW he managed their behaviors, the root of our differences in all things parenting.
In the grand scheme of things, this really was a huge success!! So many people divorce because they cannot work through their differences peacefully, and I was able to find a place within myself to let go of control. Somewhere in the process, there was remarkable compromise. Of course, to get to that place, I had to refocus my intentions and to allow him to have more say in the situation. If all things were that easy...RIGHT?!
Today the kids seem more secure than they were before. They know and understand their expectations, they are aware that there will be consequences if they make negative choices, and, in the rare circumstances that harsh discipline does have to be enforced, they can articulate WHY. There is so much to say about finding a middle ground, even if you are the one that has to do most of the compromising.
Finding the Middle Ground…
Finances is one of the most talked about and difficult hurdles in any relationship, at least in my circle of married friends. In fact, I bet, if you talk to any counselor or therapist, they may agree that it is something that comes up in convo quite often with them as well. We can plan vacations, date nights, gifts, and food, but when it comes to the nit and gritty, it’s all about how much money we got in our pocket and how we spend that money.
Truly, it’s all about the money, honey.
Because it can turn into such a bitter argument, when I first met my then boyfriend, we actually agreed to maintain our own money folds. My bills, then, were mine, and his were his. This worked for the first couple years. When we started living together and he moved in with me, he would pay his portion, a whopping $400 every month. We were coming together in many ways, but we continued to keep our finances strictly separate. Until, you guessed it, marriage bells... and it was time to purchase a house together. At first, it worked okay. We split everything down the middle. Except, it turned out, down the middle did not work. I found myself contributing more than I wanted. That was frustrating. I had to do something, WE had to do something.
It was time to sit down and talk about finances.
I have not found anybody yet that would say money is not important. Even though we were in happily ever after, finances are a part of real life and very much a part of our life together. Initially, we decided to keep our expenses combined and we would pull out of a joint account for household expenses but keep our credit cards to purchase our own items. You can guess how well that worked out. Call me frivolous, or call him fancy...
It was time to sit down and talk about finances. Again. This time, find a middle ground.
What we established was so positive, so absolutely workable, that I cannot keep it to myself! By taking a little wisdom away from bits and pieces of other threads of conversation I had with friends and family, we developed a plan that has worked and continues to work to this day.
The first part of our plan was, of course, to keep our finances joint. Married. Why separate? By joint finances, I mean incoming and outgoing (this is crucial folks...own it TOGETHER).
The second part of our plan was to create a spreadsheet with our monthly bills, including saving, spending income, and predicted costs of toiletries. Yay, fun, right?
After we allotted different expenses for specific bills, accounts, and spending needs, we decided to give each other an equal amount of SPENDING MONEY. This, of course, is cash for accountability.
But, wait, this is where I suggest the fine print come into the picture. By spending money, that includes anything extra that is not on the spreadsheet that we may want...anything extra (it doesn’t matter that I make more than him…). For example, I like my creams. That comes out of my spending. He likes his magazines. That is his cost. I like to bowl. That is where that cost ended. No more bowling for me. At least for now.
You see, my friends, it was in compromising that we came to a point where we were both happy. And that is the biggest thing I want you to take away from me here about finding a middle ground with finances in your relationship. No matter what plan you try on (maybe you guys want to try on ours!), you both need to be part of the plan, you both need to decide the limits and expectations, and you both need to own it. Like a boss, ya’ll! Key word. Both!
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