4. Handling Money Matters Together
Spoiler alert: you are going to disagree. You are going to bang heads over money earmarked for a garage remodel, or a new deck. You are going to tussle over what to do when you have unexpected surpluses, save, spend, a little of both? Make sure you develop a system for your finances, whether it’s a separate account for household expenses, ten accounts, or one joint account. Get very clear about where the money from each of you will go and stick by what you say. Don’t acquiesce to keep the peace. State your concerns calmly, but be prepared to negotiate on issues that are more important to your partner than to you—as long as these wants are not detrimental to the relationship. Don’t force, or pressure your SO to share an account. When you recognize there are many ways to handle this intricate subject, you have a higher percentage of figuring it out as a team.
5. Being Unemployed
No matter the circumstances, life without the predictable structure of a job brings out all sorts of buried emotions. You both become afraid, forecasting into the future about different scenarios, possibly exaggerated nightmares of poverty appear. Fear is a powerful instigator, pulling you into negative and angry responses.This situation is ideal for defenses to surface and verbal attacks upon each other to ensue. The partner without the job may regard themselves as a failure; they will do their best to endure the pressure of fulfilling their financial obligations, but will feel squeezed, then possibly resentful at being put in the position in the first place. They may rebel or grow existential. (Why do any of us have to work?) And they may lash out at you. Understand the fuel behind the fire, soothe as you share concerns. Offer to help them find employment they are interested in, and listen to their fears in a supportive environment you create. If you are the one seeking employment, try to loosen the vice a crank. You are not failing, it’s a curve in the road, but as long as you continue to try, you’re golden. Remove the stigma of any perceived failure, or the idea that your partner views you as less. Unless they voice this opinion, know the failure label is one you paste on yourself.
6. Significant Illness
Illness is self-centered and rattling. It is designed to separate the patient and their partner physically and mentally. As a person heals, they must do so solo: resting, quiet moments where the mind can find peace. In the interim, your partner fidgets and fusses, praying to solve the question of how they can do enough. But it’s tricky to be there, allowing your partner the serenity to heal, while standing by helpless. Unwanted and alarming thoughts trumpet in the minds of the mates: What does this mean that she is sick? How will this affect my life as the well one? Whoever is healthy secretly hates themselves for even going there, but a significant illness will take you to those ugly places, whether you bought a ticket, or not. In the mind of the sufferer, lurks these questions: Do I have the right to keep him here? We only get one life, who am I to change his? The ponderings are designed to rip the seams of unity apart. When you get honest about feeling the icky and instinctual urges (the survival concerns) you can move past them and back into togetherness.
This is when you shucked instead of jived for the incremental events that when taken in aggregate, can topple the two of you. You have to move sooner than you would like necessitating a stay in a hotel for several months with your three kids. Financial inconveniences nearly drain you and make the money belt tight, tight, tight. Your kids are sick one after the other…all winter long. You know this picture…life. Balancing truth against expectations and selecting a partner who possesses the ability to bounce back against the unexpected can go a long way toward crafting longevity. We can plan all we want, but life is a loose outline of where we are trying to go and what we think will happen. Until you have lived with the urgent need to complete a major repair on your home, a mother-in-law moving in, a business partner jumping ship, or any of the other million happenstances ready to pounce, you don’t know your partner as well as you think.
If you haven’t yet gone through these events, it doesn’t belittle your relationship or discredit your feelings. What is does mean, however, is that a deeper, more meaningful connection is waiting for the two of you.
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