Q: I've found a great rental property, but my wife doesn't want us to buy it because doing so would require going into debt. What do you think?
Jim: There are so many variables involved that your best option would be to consult a financial planning or real estate expert. Specifics aside, you should know that you're not alone -- arguments over finances are one of the leading causes of marital conflict, when a mountain of debt is involved.
Let's explore the issue of debt a bit further, since that seems to be your primary sticking point. Financial experts Ron Blue and Jeremy White have noted that men and women respond to debt differently. Men tend to become workaholics as a first response to debt, even though more work and longer hours are not the answer. A wife typically wants her husband to be home more during a financial crisis, not less. Also, a husband often won't tell his wife when he takes on more debt, because he's afraid she'll react negatively.
Women, on the other hand, have an innate need for (BEGIN ITALS)security(END ITALS), so the prospect of debt makes them anxious. Even if a husband suggests going into debt to finance a business opportunity or investment, many wives will respond negatively. Some resort to "nagging" their husbands about finances at every opportunity. This often indicates their desire for open communication on the issue. Others go to the opposite extreme, pretending the debt doesn't exist and spending money carelessly.
When it comes to finances, the husband's basic drive to provide may conflict with his wife's basic need for security. That is why you and your wife need to communicate with each other (BEGIN ITALS)before(END ITALS) debt is assumed. And no matter what you decide, make sure the decision is mutual. That will help avoid bitterness and resentment later on.
Q: My husband is obsessed with his job. He works 50 to 60 hours a week and even when he’s home, it seems that he’s always thinking about work. Meanwhile, I’m home alone with three little kids. What do I do?
Juli: What you're describing is a typical challenge for a couple five to 10 years into marriage. Just because it's typical doesn't mean it's not serious. Many marriages have fallen apart in the first decade as the husband pursues his career and the wife plunges into motherhood.
You need to take care of yourself. As a busy mom with three little ones and a preoccupied husband, you must find some breathing room or you will continue to feel burned out and angry. Get involved in a mother's group in your church. Trade "mommy days" with another mom just to go to the grocery store by yourself. You need a break!
Also, you have to address this issue with your husband. Express to your husband how much you miss him and how you feel like you are drifting into different worlds. In these busy years, you are unlikely to have lots of time and energy for each other, but you have to stay connected. No matter the cost, schedule a date night twice a month. Be willing to hear about his work (share his world) and ask him for regular scheduled time with you and the kids (your world). Work together to find things that you enjoy doing together: cooking, exercise, a book club. You need to get back to enjoying life together.
If you find that these suggestions are falling flat, it's time for you two to get some counseling. Don't wait until your anger has festered for several years and you can barely stand to be in the same room together.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.
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