From The Wife Desired, Fr. Kinsella, 1950’s
The problem of finances for a married couple is a two-edged sword. It is a factor in their lives which can cut to pieces their happiness and peace and even their marriage. It can also bring them closer together in companionship as they stand as one in slashing at the wolf at the door. Through their use of money husband and wife can evidence their love for each other or their selfishness.
It has been stated that money is the root of all evil. Money represents the material possessions of this world, the things which militate against the spirit and the good in mankind. Because money and selfishness are boon companions and because there is selfishness or lack of love in all evil, the truth of the statement becomes clearer.
Money is a consequence of original sin. We never should have had to bother with it except for Adam’s disloyalty and fall. We could almost say that money in itself is an evil. Yet, out of evil good often comes. Christ and Redemption was a good to come out of the evil of Adam’s sin.
In having to wrestle with the mutual problem of money man and wife generally are brought closer together in fighting a common enemy. Thus the good of love and companionship is occasioned by an evil.
It is a particularly sad thing, when man and wife fall out over finances, because the common problem of money easily could have promoted their love for each other. The use of money can afford limitless opportunities to manifest unselfishness and love through their sacrifices for each other.
Thus the question of finances, even poverty, cannot be considered in itself a cause of disharmony in marriage. True enough, it is listed as one of the common causes of broken homes along with fighting drinking, and in-laws. It is so listed, because often it comes into the picture of unhappy marriages as a contributing or primary cause of their troubles.
Yet, it should be realized that their finances were not the real cause of their troubles. There was a deeper cause. It was the foolish, almost sinful idea, that they could have their happiness through themselves and not through each other.
Happy married people have the same problems as unhappy or estranged married people. The happy ones are still happy because they knew that there is no happiness in this world or under this world or above this world except through another.
Once a person seeks her happiness through herself, she is doomed to eventual misery along with the person through whom she should have sought it. There is no other way of being happy except by making someone else happy.
Money is thus truly a two-edged sword. The self-seeking husband or wife will cut happiness from under themselves. The couple who use their money to promote the other’s happiness cut themselves in on additional connubial bliss.
Of its nature this book is one-sided. It deals with the wife and brings the husband in occasionally only as a necessary distraction.
So, you see, it is not wholly a man’s world.
Because husband and wife must work hand and glove in regard to finances, and because family income is primarily a husband’s responsibility, an exception will be made here in the discussion of money matters. At times a struggle was necessary to resist the temptation to bring the husband into the picture. Let us give in to the one temptation for once.
Many young married couples have made the mistake of assuming that they could begin their married lives in the economic circumstances of their parents. They forgot that it took their parents thirty or forty years to get where they are. And it took lots of struggling and sacrifice unbeknown to their little children growing up.
The young couple had it nice and easy before marriage. They lived in fine homes with all the modern conveniences. They had frequent use of the family car. Both worked for several years before marriage and thus had a considerable amount of money to spend on themselves. In fact, for so many this was a rather selfish period in life. A good time and few, if any, sacrifices made up the picture.
Then came marriage with all its joys and its responsibilities as well. The husband, instead of giving ten dollars a week to his parents for board, or nothing at all, now had to pay rent. Food had to be bought. Babies were arriving along with outrageous doctor bills. Something had to give somewhere. Were they going to attempt to maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed before marriage?
Frequent parties, fine dinners at expensive places, numerous and costly gifts freely exchanged between relations and friends, and many other luxuries were part and parcel of their lives. Were they to continue? Then how would the family expenses be met?
The average husband, just getting a start in the economic arena, simply cannot maintain his previous standard of living and decently support his family to the satisfaction of his responsibility.
Over and over again marriages have come to grief because husbands have spent too great a proportion of their incomes on themselves to the callous disregard for their wives and children.
The naiveté of some of these selfish monsters is hard to fathom.
With hardly a blush some of them will admit to removing as much as twenty-five per cent of their incomes for their own pleasures in the form of golf, fishing, drinking, or some other activity unshared with the family.
A young woman must be very careful not to give her heart to any man, until she is certain he is responsible and unselfish. What is his attitude about money? Does he spend the greater part of his income before marriage merely on his personal gratification?
Many girls have been deceived into thinking that a young man was generous and unselfish, because he seemed to throw his money around freely. Many disillusioned wives have had to come too late to the realization that he was throwing his money around pretty much on himself.
The good times which he gave her were good times which he gave himself as well, and her good time was incidental to his. These characters save nothing for their future marriages.
It takes sacrifice to forego present pleasure in order to have the wherewithal to begin married life. The man who was unable to deny himself by saving for his marriage may rise to the occasion during marriage. But he may not. He is a poor risk. His happy-go-lucky attitude about money is as likely to carry over into married life. With a situation like this, heartaches more than companionship will be her lot.
The ideal husband made the choice where his real happiness rested. He gave up his pre-marriage pleasures as being inconsequential in comparison to his new found happiness. He cast his lot with his wife and their children.
To curb himself from previous pleasures, even such innocent and seemingly unselfish customs as the exchange of expensive gifts with every relative in sight, required sacrifice. The sacrifice was rewarded by a growth in love. There was no other way in which love could develop.
The ideal wife was sensitive to her husband’s struggle to adapt himself to a new way of life, not only because she loved him but because she was faced with the same problem of change.
She too had to forego the pre-marriage butterfly existence of spending right up to her income with no provision for future contingencies and necessities. She, even more than her husband, was interested in saving for the down payment for their new home.
The home was to be her work shop. If it should be inadequate for the needs of her family, she would be the one to suffer most. If she was pigeon-holed in a cliff dwellers’ apartment building, she found the confinement of herself and the children nerve wrecking.
How could she keep an eye on the children in their third-floor flat, as she ground out a week’s laundry in the dingy basement with an old broken down washing machine? Obviously then, she had more motive than her husband for putting aside cash for the building of a better day.
Yet we meet young wives who are still too immature for marriage.
One situation occurs to illustrate the lack of an effort on the part of the wife to be a real helpmate in this question of money. She visioned herself as something of a glamour girl. Wishing to have her pie and eat it at the same time, she wanted to continue her night clubbing along with her new married life.
Her main objective each day seemed to be to rest up for the night’s activities. As soon as dinner was finished, she was raring to go. Tonight it was the Panther Room; tomorrow it had to be the Leopard Room at some downtown hotel.
For some weeks the husband made a gallant effort to satiate her girlish whims in this direction of frivolous entertainment. Then he began to run down at the heels. His work was suffering. Moreover, he saw that he could not continue the squandering of money at this merry clip.
His first efforts to reason with her brought the rejoinder that he no longer was any fun. When he finally put his foot down and said that they had to stop the silly business, she became petulant. She could not be serious with him. She simply would not bother her pretty little head about finances. Did he not love her anymore?
Had she married a “tight wad?” Then why did he squirm at the cost of giving her a good time? A husband should like to show off his pretty wife elegantly dressed, well fed, and expensively entertained at some fashionable spot.
His exasperation at her immaturity drove them farther apart. Their eventual separation could no more be blamed on money problems than on the man in the moon. In fact, inasmuch as the word lunacy comes from the Latin word for moon, perhaps that man up there was her undoing.
She was incapable of real love. She did not have the slightest concept of seeking her happiness through her husband. The self-seeking type of wife could never be a helpmate and companion for her husband. If she had not fallen out with her husband over finances, it would have been something else.
Although this example of the glamour girl unwilling to settle down to marriage is drawn from real life, perhaps it is a little extreme.
The wives who are unfair with their husbands in money matters are more likely to manifest their selfishness by spending beyond their husband’s income on clothes, jewelry, and perfume. They were accustomed before marriage to expensive things. After marriage they do not want to sacrifice for their husband and children because they have not really learned to love.
“Home should not be just a place. Rather, it must be THE place. All else should be ‘outside.’ Home should be the center of activities and interests. It was built for births, courtship, marriage, and death. It is maintained so that children might grow, trained by precept and example – so that they will develop spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, just as they do physically.”
– Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook: http://amzn.to/2ohW5nk (afflink)
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Very very good reminder of finances and folly… 🙁 thank you