My Story About Money 3: I Don’t Know if I Love You

06, Jul 2015 by catalphia in Marriage and Money     No Comments

We have been married about a year and a half, and David says to me, out of the blue,  “I don’t know if I love you.”

Wow!  If he doesn’t know, I’m not going to try to convince him.

This time, my response is instant:

“OK. I’m moving to a place of my own.” I have only a general idea of where this will be.  But fortunately, I have enough money to move out, and I do.

David phones me for dates. We go out a few times. He wants me to go sailing with him, but I refuse. Why should I drive an hour each way to be with someone who is ambivalent about me? One evening we go out for dinner, and he flirts extensively with our waitress. I tell him that if he is going to do that I won’t go out with him again. The next time we go out, he gives me his full attention.

“I want to have a family!” he announces.

This is a complete surprise. When we had discussed this previously, I said, “My mother gave up her entire creative life when she had children. I don’t want to do that.” David did not pursue the topic, and I did not realize it was still a live issue.

Now that he has let me know how important children are to him, I have an opening. I speak my truth:

“If we have children, we’ll have to change our life style,” I say. “I know that I can’t do it the way we’re living now.” (We are both teaching part time, focusing on our creative work and living on very little money.) “I know that I don’t have the stamina to support us. You’ll have to do it.”

He replies definitely and without hesitation: “I can do that. I will.”

This conversation dramatically changed our lives. We moved, improved our finances, and had a baby. It has been challenging…and rewarding beyond anything I could ever have imagined

David has just read this, and he says, “This makes me feel like a schmuck! I don’t even know what was going on for me at that time.”

I say, “You weren’t a schmuck! Who–at twentywhatever you were at the time– knows what’s going on for them? You were telling your truth. How many men would have the courage to do that? Not many! What you did was a lot better than pretending there was no issue and creating a chasm of ambivalence…or looking for someone else and having an affair. I say, ‘I’m lucky that you were who you were!’ We both did a great job with that one!

Beware! I’m telling this like it was easy. It wasn’t. I felt extremely vulnerable, and David must have too. I just knew what I WOULDN’T settle for and so did he.

Ok, I’m sure you’re wondering, since I said I was going to give full disclosure about the money: “What money did you have?” and ”How did you improve your finances?” The money I had was from a trust that my grandfather established, a trust that was distributed when my father died. It wasn’t a large amount of money, not enough to live on, but enough for a kind of insurance policy. That was the money I used to get a place of my own when we separated. I’m not sure what I would have done if I were penniless. This is an example of the huge advantage for women when we have our own separate money. (more about this later)

When David and I decided to change our life style, we met with a financial advisor who suggested that we use my inheritance to buy a house. We took this advice, and David started a business as a consultant. Since the investment of my money reduced our basic cost of living, the combined income from our part time teaching jobs and David’s consulting made us feel that we had enough money to start a family.

Sounds really smooth and easy, doesn’t it? The truth is that we were very fortunate. But there was another glitch along the way.

 

Copyright 2015 Carolyn Kahlke.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

1.  It’s About Money

Have you ever had someone say to you, “It’s not about the money, it’s the principal of the thing.” They’re lying. It’s ALL about the money. The principle of the thing is embedded in the money.

And have you ever noticed that –when people write about their own lives– they rarely talk about money? I’ve often wondered about famous writers: “where did your money come from? Did someone support you? Did you inherit money?” There is often a lack of transparency in the money department. In contrast, the story I want to tell is mostly about money, and there are lots of parts to it. I have been very disempowered in earning money and in receiving it from people outside my family, but my family also gave me a lot of support. As with many stories there are lots of inconsistencies. I’m going to talk about these, trying to include everything that is important, because if I omit significant parts I am telling you a kind of lie, and I don’t want to do that. I AM going to omit details that would compromise the privacy of family members and others who have played significant roles. But I promise to give you the content that is important for an honest story.

My story about money has been so confusing that I’ve become a detective, following clues in my own life to find out what has really happened, what I have inherited. Along with that I’ve been looking for ways to change what I don’t want into something I do want.   My focus is on money in my adult life, especially in my marriage. I’ll also include events and influences from other time periods when they add more color for a fuller picture. Here goes:

 

The Blue Bicycle

When David and I married we were both in school and I had a blue bicycle that I rode to and from class. I am not the most physically balanced person in the world and I had to try a lot of bikes before I found one I was comfortable riding. This bike was lightweight and it was like an extension of my own body, especially on turns. I loved it. It was like Goldilocks’ chair– just right.

 

Then we moved to a place where I could easily walk to school, and I stored the bike in a shed. Within a few months it was stolen. I had insurance on it, and planned to replace the bike. David went ballistic. “You can’t do that!” he exploded. “We have to use the money for two bikes, one for you and one for me!”

 

This was a complete shock. I had no warning of his reaction, no idea he would feel this way. I was dumbfounded, and could find no words to respond. I had no skills for maneuvering through the conflict. The outcome? We went to a bike store and bought two bicycles for the price of one. They were clunky and hard to maneuver. I could not take curves comfortably. I stopped riding a bike.

 

Why did I let this happen? Did I not see the huge danger sign? I would never let it pass now. What I wish I could have done is to think abundantly, and refuse to budge from that. I could have said “NO! If you want a bike, let’s find a way to get one for you too.” If that didn’t work I could have left the marriage. But at that time these options didn’t occur to me. I had no experience with negotiation: The word wasn’t even in my vocabulary. What I did know was that underneath the erupting volcano was a heart of gold, a person who loved me and wanted me to follow my dreams. I stayed.

We didn’t fight much, and we laughed a lot. So the next big challenge was a shock:

 

I Don’t Know If I Love You

We have been married about a year and a half, and David says to me, out of the blue,  “I don’t know if I love you.”

Wow!  If he doesn’t know, I’m not going to try to convince him.

This time, my response is instant:

“OK. I’m moving to a place of my own.” I have only a general idea of where this will be.  But fortunately, I have enough money to move out, and I do.

David phones me for dates. We go out a few times. He wants me to go sailing with him, but I refuse. Why should I drive an hour each way to be with someone who is ambivalent about me? One evening we go out for dinner, and he flirts extensively with our waitress. I tell him that if he is going to do that I won’t go out with him again. The next time we go out, he gives me his full attention.

“I want to have a family!” he announces.

This is a complete surprise. When we had discussed this previously, I said, “My mother gave up her entire creative life when she had children. I don’t want to do that.” David did not pursue the topic, and I did not realize it was still a live issue.

Now that he has let me know how important children are to him, I have an opening. I speak my truth:

“If we have children, we’ll have to change our life style,” I say. “I know that I can’t do it the way we’re living now.” (We are both teaching part time, focusing on our creative work and living on very little money.) “I know that I don’t have the stamina to support us. You’ll have to do it.”

He replies definitely and without hesitation: “I can do that. I will.”

This conversation dramatically changed our lives. We moved, improved our finances, and had a baby. It has been challenging…and rewarding beyond anything I could ever have imagined

David has just read this, and he says, “This makes me feel like a schmuck! I don’t even know what was going on for me at that time.”

I say, “You weren’t a schmuck! Who–at twentywhatever you were at the time– knows what’s going on for them? You were telling your truth. How many men would have the courage to do that? Not many! What you did was a lot better than pretending there was no issue and creating a chasm of ambivalence…or looking for someone else and having an affair. I say, ‘I’m lucky that you were who you were!’ We both did a great job with that one!

Beware! I’m telling this like it was easy. It wasn’t. I felt extremely vulnerable, and David must have too. I just knew what I WOULDN’T settle for and so did he.

OK, I’m sure you’re wondering, since I said I was going to give full disclosure about the money: “What money did you have?” and ”How did you improve your finances?” The money I had was from a trust that my grandfather established, a trust that was distributed when my father died. It wasn’t a large amount of money, not enough to live on, but enough for a kind of insurance policy. That was the money I used to get a place of my own when we separated. I’m not sure what I would have done if I were penniless. This is an example of the huge advantage for women when we have our own separate money. (more about this later)

When David and I decided to change our life style, we met with a financial advisor who suggested that we use my inheritance to buy a house. We took this advice, and David started a business as a consultant. Since the investment of my money reduced our basic cost of living, the combined income from our part time teaching jobs and David’s consulting made us feel that we had enough money to start a family.

Sounds really smooth and easy, doesn’t it? The truth is that we were very fortunate. But there was another glitch along the way.

 

Copyright 2015 Carolyn Kahlke.  All Rights Reserved.