I help Mark edit his posts, so whatever he publishes is partly my side of the story by default. However, with this one I had gone to bed early and woke up to find it posted before I approved it. Mark convinced me to give my side of story.
Mark and I are opposite. He shares a lot through his writing that he doesn’t necessarily say in person (one of the reasons his writing convinced me to try again at the dating thing—I never realized how much he cared until he gave me those letters). On the other hand, I am more comfortable sharing my thoughts in person rather than in writing, especially on the internet. Suffice it to say, if you read the last post before I discovered it, you’ll find that it was a bit different than it is now 🙂
Mark and I are also opposite in that he is incredibly mentally organized about money (and most everything) and I was/am not. It’s true I was raised to be frugal. I put myself through college, undergraduate and graduate, coming out with only $3,000 in student loans (which Mark paid off for me—but hey, I helped pay off $10,000 of his MBA loan). I was not a complete disaster, I just poured most of my energy into doing well in school.
A new way of thinking
I never kept track of my money. I worked lots of jobs, put the money in the ATM, tried not to spend anything, and hoped that it would cover my expenses each semester. It almost always worked. When I reached the last week of my freshman year, I ate fake potatoes for every meal in order to pay for my recital accompanist (I was a violin performance major). In relating this story to my mom years later, she asked me why I didn’t ask for money, but honestly that thought never occurred to me.
With my financial head-in-the-sand attitude, meeting someone who wanted their $3.00 receipt was quite mind-opening. I was incredulous. “What in the world is he going to do with that receipt?” I thought. “Did he do that to try to impress me?” No, he didn’t.
I’ll never forget the day we went to the store together to buy groceries a few months after we met. I usually knew where either my checkbook or my debit card was located, but that day I had no idea where I had placed either one. Actually, both had been lost for a few days, and I was out of food. I was searching like crazy to try to find one or the other and had almost given up when I realized my debit card was in the pocket my sweatshirt. Maybe this is how I went through college without spending much money! Mark doesn’t ever say a lot, but that day I remember him expressing disbelief that I didn’t know where my stuff was. Apparently I was mind-opening to him as well.
We don’t argue about money
Now we are married, and Mark definitely makes our financial life run smoothly. In the past 8 years we lived in 4 cities, and been through a lay-off in the middle of a recession, MBA school, many MBA job interviews, pregnancies with health problems, and 3 kids. And while most of that time we were making a modest, single income (or almost no income), we have not had to worry about money for our basic needs and bills. Not because we had plenty, but because Mark budgeted carefully months in advance and let me know when we needed to hold back so we would never get close to running out.
Money matters in marriage
So what is my Valentine’s takeaway? I didn’t realize that money matters in marriage. While dating, I didn’t realize that one of the greatest blessings Mark would bring to a marriage is his financial sense. Finances can be a huge source of stress in marriages. Of all the things we have to disagree on (and there are many), we rarely argue about money or finances. So thank you Mark. My Valentine’s day gift to you is this post so you don’t have to write it.
And if you were hoping that this post would actually be my side of the love story, rather than my side of the financial story, sorry! Maybe one day I’ll feel comfortable sharing more to the world. But those letters, they were good!