Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Wife who wouldn't Listen

I woke up today and put on a tshirt that I've had for years, and realized that it no longer fit. I'm sure it's a combination of  much shrinking (the shirt) and expanding (me) over the years. I looked for other shirts to put on and realized I have nothing that fits from last year, or else it is so old that it's worn out and out of style, like me.

So I told Dennis I would just run to Kohls to buy a new shirt.

It was my intention to buy only one shirt but as I surveyed my wardrobe, or lack of it, I realized I have no clothes to wear for the warmer summer months ahead. I was going to need more than just one shirt.

With the exception of a few clothes in the wash, this is pretty much it.

That's when I eyed my Kohls credit card that has been sitting--unused--on my dresser for months. Having previously racked up my payment to $600, I haven't used it since (after it was paid off.)

At the same time, something inside me was telling me not to do it. But I wouldn't listen, because all I could think of was how good it would be to have something new to wear. So I took the credit card with the intention of buying one, or at the most two, summer shirts.

I ended up leaving the store with a bill of $140. For all the "savings" that they circle on your receipt, why is it that you still end up leaving with more than what you intended to spend??

I did not spend it all on me. I bought myself one t-shirt, one dress shirt for church, some "under-things" (very badly needed!), a spring jacket (I haven't owned one for two years!) pajamas and a t-shirt for Lucy (she has also outgrown everything), a play dress for Anna, and shorts for Henry.

I left the store telling myself that it was well justified since each one of us were in dire need of everything I bought (except for maybe the play dress.) I knew Dennis may not be happy, but I would make sure that I would pay it off and I would do it myself. He has been very stressed about money lately.

I called him on my way home to see how Henry was doing. He had been sick that morning and I wanted to make sure he was doing ok. After finding out that he was fine, we somehow got on the subject of money and bills and Dennis said the strangest thing.

Dennis is a quiet man--he doesn't really speak much. Even in his texts, there are no more than one or two words. Usually I am the venter, and he is the one who is listening (or pretending to.) But for whatever reason, he began to talk about money and how hard it's been for him lately.

I was thinking to myself how weird this all was and how odd that it was coming up now, just as I had finished my big shopping that Dennis knew nothing about. He was still under the impression that I had only bought one shirt as I had said, and here I had a big bulging bag of Kohls right next to me.

He began to talk about how we need to make bills a priority, reminding me that every extra cent has gone to bills. He told me how worried he's been that I might be denied by Social Security and we might lose the house. He told me that there is a strong possibility we might have to claim bankruptcy, because we could not get ahead on our bills but were slipping further and further behind.

And then--no lie--he said, "Take that Kohl's credit card for instance. Remember how hard it was to pay it off? Thank goodness that's over and we don't have that to worry about anymore!" As he went on to lecture about how interest rates work, I just sat there looking guiltily at my Kohl's bag. And no, he didn't know I had used my credit card, because he wasn't aware I still had the card on my dresser. It's been hidden under a pile of junk. That is how I managed not to use it.

I finally told him rather weakly that I had to go. I had a lot of thinking to do. I spent most of my driving time praying. Asking God for his help and wisdom in how to handle money. How to know what we truly need, what we can put off, and what we can do without.

When I got home, I snuck the bag into our room and surveyed everything I bought. I decided to return the play dress before Anna could find out that I bought it for her. I tried on my dress shirt and decided it was a little bit small, so that went in the pile of returns. I threw in the bag of underwear and decided to get it somewhere cheaper. That in itself, will be at least $60 in returns, and the rest I will pay off with my savings. But all the other stuff, I kept for myself. And it's ironic, because I did wind up with only one t-shirt for myself, just like I had first intended.

I ended up confessing everything to Dennis. I hadn't meant to be sneaky or go behind his back but I could see how it looked like I did. Temptation got the better of me, but humility won in the end.

It's hard to do without. It's hard to put things on hold, when you know you "need" so much more.  But as I prayed on my way home from the store, I realized how it all came from a lack of trust in God.

And it's true--I have a savings account that I could use rather than putting things on a credit card. I could go out and get those shirts and underwear that I need, or get the rest of the flowers for our landscaping, but I have been holding out and waiting. Trying to save in between.

I had never thought that much about how hard it's been for Dennis, and I believe it was God's timing that prompted Dennis to speak when he did. I hadn't been exactly fair--though I wasn't trying to be devious either. I had just lost sight of things.

So when I told Dennis everything, he didn't get upset, but we did have a talk about money and what we need to do to spend it.

We are only going to do half of the summer projects that we had planned. We will finish what we have started and maybe--hopefully--put on railings like I had wanted.

We will finish the "patio project" that we started last year. And we will hopefully get the girls a new bedroom door.

It feels so little compared to all that needs to be done. But it's ok, because it is only cosmetic. It's not what we need to be happy.

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