Marriage, Money, and Mario

On Friday night, we had a movie night with our kids, which has become our weekly tradition.  We had a lot of fun with them, but both Chris and I were ready when they went down for the night.  We each had long work weeks full of stress and all the unpleasantness that makes work life annoying and frustrating, and we were looking forward to unwinding this week.

Which was why it was his most brilliant moment as my husband when Chris dug out his old Nintendo from the guest bedroom closet and set it up in our living room at 10:00pm.  We spent the next few hours sitting there, playing Mario, laughing, and just generally acting like people who didn’t have a care in the world.  It was everything we needed after a long week, and I was so thankful that I had a husband who was my happy place in the middle of life’s stresses.

And then Sunday rolled around and Chris and I got into a texting fighting about money.

Ahhhh… marriage.


Here’s what happened:

We have been doing pretty good with our money lately.  We paid off the last of our credit cards about six months ago, and have been enjoying some flexibility in our paychecks for the first time in, like, ever.  It’s been a good place.

And let me stop right here and say that Chris and I use a family budget, so please don’t leave me 1,000 annoying comments about how to handle our money.  We are just fine.  Our financial stress comes not necessarily from debt, but from communicating about our money.

This weekend was a perfect example.

Chris pays our bills and handles our day-to-day finances, and I am very grateful for that.  It is such a huge household responsibility, though, that I try not to get on to him too often about daily money management things.  How he does it works for our family, and I am comfortable about how we decide to spend our money.

What I am not comfortable with is how Chris communicates about money, but I have never been able to put my finger on what the problem is, really.  We check in about our budget and spending several times a week and sit down to really budget about once a month (or so).  So, you would think we would be communicating often and well about our money by now.

But you would be wrong.

Case and point:  On Saturday afternoon while we were our running errands with the whole family, Chris and I talked about how we were doing financially since we have some larger ticket items coming up that we have been saving for.  Chris said we were doing really good.  I asked about Christmas shopping coming up, and he said that I could just keep doing like I have been doing (which is buying one or two gifts a week) or maybe even increase it a little, if I needed.

“We’re doing good,” he said.  “I’m really proud of us.”


So, Sunday, I went Christmas shopping with my mom and the kids.  I didn’t spend any more than I would NORMALLY spend during an afternoon of early Christmas shopping.  I am not irresponsible.  I know my limits.  And Chris said we were doing good.  Shop on!

Apparently, I was really wrong.  Because Chris’s response on the phone with me as I drove home was, “ARE YOU A CHILD?!?! I can’t have one conversation without you going crazy like a kid in a candy store?!?!”

A.  I am not a child.  Thanks.

B.  I made no candy store purchases.


As I fumed on my way home, I had a huge realization.  Chris and I communicate differently about money.  My “we’re doing good” and his “we’re doing good” mean two completely different things.  We need to talk in dollar figures.  I need to hear from him, “We have X amount of money to spend this week.”

So, maybe I am like a kid.  Maybe I do need an allowance, or at least a NUMBER to work with.  Because phrases like, “We’re good,” or “Go easy this week,” or “QUIT BUYING THINGS!” just don’t register the same in my head as they do in Chris’s.  And it’s not that I maliciously go out and spend exorbitant amounts of money.  I am a coupon-clipping, deal-hunting, thrifty working mom.  I know what our limits are and I stay within them.  But when we talk in general terms that don’t set hard limits, then I don’t know where the line is that I’m not supposed to cross.

And that’s when I get yelled at for buying only the most adorable hair bows that have ever been made to put in Gracie’s Christmas stocking.

We’ve been married for almost ten years.  TEN YEARS.  For ten years, I have been sharing money, bank accounts, and adult responsibilities with my husband.  You’d think we speak the same language by now, but I guess not.

In any case, I’m taking the amount I got in trouble for spending today out of Chris’s Christmas list.

Take THAT, Scrooge!

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18 Thoughts to “Marriage, Money, and Mario”

  1. AndreaC

    I’m the same way with financials, just give me a number and let’s move on!

    I’m reminiscing about Nintendo now. Many happy hours were spent on my Nintendo

  2. Sarah

    Now I want to get rid of our hardly ever used Xbox 360 Kinect and get Mario!
    I think taking it out on Scrooge is the perfect revenge. That’s my unhealthy side talking 🙂

  3. Ruth

    I wish I could play Mario with my husband. It sound like a such a fun way to relax. But I am so bad that is not a competition :'(
    And for the money fight now you have the solution to your problem 😀

  4. Yes it is inevitable to argue when it comes to money matters. Based on my experience, I used to spend a lot of money because I didn’t have responsibilities when I was single. Now, my partner is such a scrooge (in a good way) but still lets me indulge once in a while because we didn’t want to argue about money. Money comes and go, but we would want our relationship to stay. One thing that my partner stuck in my head was we will be the one benefiting from it in the end. And yes, I am such a Mario fan as well! Great post!

  5. Hahahaha! I can SO relate to this! =)

  6. We spent more than we normally would this weekend too. It was just a good weekend for spending money. Is it payday yet?

    P.S. I’m always so impressed by your shopping ahead of time for Christmas!

  7. Long ago at one of my bridal showers, a sweet old woman told me that in marriage you will fight about three things money, sex, and children; and usually in that order. I couldn’t believe this sweet old lady was actually saying that and i’m sure I looked at her like she was crazy. Boy was she right though! The first and worse fight my husband and I ever had was about money, and how much I was spending at Walmart…for groceries! I’ve made sure he goes to the store with me since then, so he knows just how much food costs; but we have still had many a fight about spending and communication about it. Men and women’s minds just work completely different! I would have done exactly what you did, though i’m not sure that my husband would ever make the mistake of calling me a child. 🙂

  8. Sara

    My husband and I are the same, except I’m the bill payer/budget keeper. I came to the same realization a few years ago – me saying “maybe slow down a bit on the spending” didn’t register the same! Now I pay the bills on payday and then text him the dollar amount that we have left, and update him every few days!

    1. Tabs

      Same here!!! Haha!!

  9. Bahaha it’s the same deal here. 12 yrs later and we have the same conversation. I bought 8 chair cushions for the dining chairs ($20 total… see, total bargain!) and he exploded even though he said we were “fine”.

    We were doing great when I was handling all the financials but then my work picked up and Steve took on the roll. He’s done great but like you I don’t know where the “line” is and as the person who does the household purchases it makes it difficult.

    Questioning him about our status daily only irritates him so I generally ask what payments will be coming out this fortnight (we get paid every two weeks in Australia) and then before I hit the shops I check the balances online. We have a rule that if we spend over $50 on a miscellaneous purchase we have to chat about it first, even if it’s just a quick call.

    Money talk is the biggest buzz kill and as we get older we really feel the pressure to “get it right”. We’ve managed to clear and cancel all our debt and cards (bar one small emergency card) and currently saving for our house… even writing this comment has my shoulders tensing. sigh.

    At the end of the day, after all the crap and stress… orgasms are free 😉

  10. Sarah

    I don’t think my husband and I have ever had this argument but we used to fight about Christmas spending Every. Freaking. Year. My husband is the most generous person I’ve ever met but he alway got so pissy and grumpy when all the Christmas shopping started. And every year I’d get pissy and annoyed because hello…it’s Christmas. SCROOGE!!! We finally created a separate Christmas account and had money direct deposited in there with each paycheck all year long. We’ve never fought about it since then. He doesn’t have to be Scrooge and I don’t feel the need to beat him with a loaf of bread at Christmas time. It’s lovely.

    I’m not at all suggesting this as advice. Just relating to the money argument. We all have them and we all have to find our own solutions.

  11. Oh… Communication!!! Our money fights are the same – it’s ALWAYS ends up being how we communicated about it. And whoever said the “fights are about money, sex, and children” is a genius….

  12. Dora

    My husband and I use the and have it linked to our phones. We each can enter a transaction and it helps us keep better tabs on the amount we have in each “category” of spending, especially for restaurants and shopping. I check it every couple of days against our bank account to make sure everything is entered.

  13. Michelle

    Oh man, I hear ya on the money thing! My husband and I have been together ten years, married for six now and we still don’t see eye to eye on money. I handle balancing the checkbook and paying bills each week, so I’m very on top of what bills I know are coming up vs how much we have in the account. But given that hubs comes from a family that was… shall we say, financially privileged… when he was growing up, whereas I came from a family that worked two or three jobs just to make ends meet- his version of “where doing good” and my version are very different! I am constantly trying to help him put things in perspective because he thinks that because we’re not as well off as his parents were at our age, that we’re failing in life. It’s a constant struggle.

    Good on you for taking time out for games! Hubs and I are huge Gamers who before baby, could easily spend hours on a game. Now that we have a baby with special needs, our time is taken up with after work therapy sessions, trying to get things done around the house (dinner, laundry, etc) and trying to convince the baby he needs to sleep. By the time we get him to bed we’re too tired/it’s too late to do much of anything other than go to bed ourselves! We miss having time out to game, but we love our little guy too much to give up what he needs to succeed. Someday, I will pick up that dusty old Skyrim game and have a really great session! 😉

  14. […] “As I fumed on my way home, I had a huge realization.  Chris and I communicate differently about money.  My “we’re doing good” and his “we’re doing good” mean two completely different things.  We need to talk in dollar figures.  I need to hear from him, “We have X amount of money to spend this week.”” Katie at Marriage Confessions, Marriage, Money, and Mario […]

  15. M L

    I don’t ever write comments but I did have a kind of the same experience with my husband. I got really stressed out by not knowing the exact figures. So now, every week (mostly) we sit and have a 10 minute “executive meeting” on how much exactly we have to spend and what in general we have coming up. The numbers really make it easier for me and it seems to be working for the 4 years we have been doing it.
    What I mean to say is, we also had that period of not communicating until we figured out a system, so, don’t worry. Numbers really do make everything much less relative and much clearer.

  16. […] little hair bows I found her while Christmas shopping last weekend (remember that time when Chris got mad at me?). I found these in a little bitty boutique in Mt. Dora. If you’re ever in the Orlando area, […]

  17. Love this post! I can totally relate to this. I read a few years ago that one of the highest reasons for divorce was in fact…money. It’s true — men and women communicate so differently, especially when it comes to facts and figures. My husband is a bit like yours — less about stating a number and more about generalizations. I much prefer to have a number, so I know exactly where we stand and how much room I have to move around.

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