When we marry, there are two very important things which we no longer independently control in our lives, namely: 1) time and 2) money.
As you’ll see in my upcoming new book (“Don’t Get Married! Unless You Understand A Few Things First” coming to amazon.com later this month), our marital lives are quite different from our single lives in many ways, and our attitudes about time and money are a huge part of that difference. I call this change from single life to married life “coming in for a landing.”
Single guy: “I’m going out with the guys after work today for happy hour.”
Married guy: “Honey, the guys are thinking about going out on Thursday for happy hour. What do you think?”
Notice the differences. The single gentleman is able to, quite on the fly, let people know what his plan already is.
The married, gentleman, on the other hand, asks about his wife’s thoughts about his plan, AND he gives her a few days heads-up for when it’s supposed to happen.
The reason for the differences in the above scenarios is based on that idea from several posts ago called Emotional Credibility.
Remember, Emotional Credibility equals trust + liking the other person and wanting to be around them.
When we continue to make independent decisions about time and money without communicating or processing first with our spouse, as though we were still single, we lose Emotional Credibility with them; it is also an indicator that we have not yet come in for a landing from our single lives to our married lives.
Thinking about buying a new car? Better check in with your spouse and see if that’ll be an appropriate family purchase at this time.
Thinking about moving? Better check in with your spouse and learn about his/her opinion regarding the financial aspects of that, as well as their own vision for your future domicile together.
Want to volunteer at a local shelter? Great idea, and very altruistic! BUT, better see what your spouse is thinking too. (If not charity, at least communication should start at home.)
You see, once we marry, we’ve agreed to a few things:
First, we’ve agreed to be accountable to the other person.
Second, we’ve agreed to be more deliberate about our behaviors and decisions.
And third, we’ve agreed to be honorable with regards to our spouse’s feelings and opinions, and about the trust they’ve placed in us.
(Of course, we’ve also agreed to other things as well, including fidelity, empathy, compassion, support, and encouragement, among others.)
If we follow through on these things we build the trust and our spouses like us more and want us around more of the time (i.e. Emotional Credibility). If we do not, they can feel betrayed by us and we lose Emotional Credibility with them.
Work with your spouse on communicating what you want, don’t want, like, and don’t like, as well as what you feel you need or don’t need. You are no longer a free agent; you’ve signed onto a team now.
Never assume that they’ll just “know” or that they should just “know” or “agree”. They don’t and won’t, and they’ll resent you for thinking that they do or should.
Make it a lifelong goal for your lives together to get to know each other every day by Listening, Validating, Asking open ended questions, and saving your Comments (either in word or behavior) for last. (Go to http://www.LVACNation.com or see my book “LVAC Nation!” on amazon.com for more on the trademarked LVAC Technique.)
So remember, when it comes to time and money, marriage requires that we be accountable, honorable, and deliberate with these valuable, limited resources in order to preserve the Emotional Credibility and the healthy emotional connection between you.
All the best,
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.