Monday, April 9, 2012

Save Her from the Stress


Just in case you haven’t noticed, life contains a surfeit of stress. Yes, it’s true, we all face problems, each and every day. Even the people you might think don’t have problems to worry about; movie stars, athletes and rich people all have problems. In fact, most of them have more problems to deal with than you and I do.

Stress can cause us a number of problems; everything from eating disorders, to high blood pressure, to total emotional breakdowns. It appears that these problems are even worse for women, than they are for men. Of course, none of us need these problems and we need even less for our wives to have them.

As men, we actually need a bit of stress to function. A man without any stress is called a couch potato. He just sits on the sofa, channel surfing, and calling out to his wife to bring him another Coke when his bottle runs dry. Stress is what causes us to get off the sofa and do something with our lives.

Not so for women. There’s a definite difference between how men and women deal with stress. While men can set a problem for which they don’t have an answer aside, women can’t do that. That problem grows and grows before their eyes, becoming bigger and bigger, until it’s all they can see. Instead of being able to deal with it, they often get to a point where all they are doing is worrying about it.

Now, I’m not saying that women aren’t capable of getting things done. We’re not talking the 1850s here, where women were thought of as being incapable of doing anything. Women are just as capable to deal with things as we are, sometimes even more so. What I’m talking about is how dealing with those things can affect them. By and large, women are far more skilled at worrying then men are. So, when faced with a problem, they tend to worry.

By the way, that’s why women nag their husbands; they see the problem, but they don’t see their husbands doing anything about it. The fact that you’re mulling it over in your mind or waiting for something to arrive, which you need to solve the problem, doesn’t count. She can’t see it, so it isn’t happening.

Part of our responsibility as men is to protect our wives. While that clearly means protecting them from physical harm, I’d have to say that it goes much farther than that. One of the areas where I have found it important to protect my wife is in the area of stress. Her mother is a world-class champion worrier, and she taught both her daughters well. So, it is very easy for my wife to fall into that habit. If I don’t protect her from worry and stress, it can destroy her.
One of the biggest areas of worry and stress for most couples is in the area of finances. It bothers me when I see couples in which the woman is the one handling the finances. Not because she’s not capable, but because of the stress which is associated with that job. If you ask these couples why they are doing things that way, they either answer that he’s irresponsible or she’s a better administrator.

Okay, those sounds like good reasons, but are they really? If that’s causing her stress, which ultimately leads to health problems, are they making a good decision? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if he learned how to take care of the finances, so that she wouldn’t have to?

In our home, I do that. Now, I don’t keep my wife totally in the dark about our finances, she knows all of our accounts and about how much the bills are every month. She knows in general how much income we have (it varies from month to month). But, I never burden her with “I don’t know how we’re going to pay for this.” Instead, I figure out how we’re going to do it, and let her know. I take on the responsibility, instead of dumping it on her.

I’m not saying that she has no say in our finances, either; she does. When we sign up for some service or membership or whatever, it’s usually because she wants to. She comes to me, tells me what she wants, and I determine if we can afford it. If not, I tell her. If she still wants it, then we sit down together to decide what we’re going to give up, so that we can afford it.

When we run into a situation where money is a little tight, I just tell my wife that we need to be careful about our spending for the next few weeks. I don’t get into detail; I don’t dump it on her: I just tell her to put off any unnecessary spending for a bit. Likewise, for things like Christmas shopping and going on vacation; I tell her what we can afford to spend, and that’s what we work with.

Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not treating my wife like a child or treating her like she’s irresponsible. What I’m trying to do is protect her from the stress associated with dealing with our finances. Our books are open. She can ask me at any time what we have and what we don’t have. She can ask me if such-and-such a bill has been paid. She can know how much cash I have in my wallet (and there’s no “she money” in there). I’m just protecting her.

How can a woman, who doesn’t feel secure in the family finances, feel secure in her marriage? She can’t. That’s why I’m protecting her. I want her to feel secure, that she doesn’t have to worry and that everything is going to be all right.

Maybe you can’t do it the same way that I am. You have to find what works for you. But, I will tell you this; if you have your wife paying the bills, you’re wrong. You’re dumping your responsibility on her, along with all the stress that goes with it. Learn how to take care of things, so that your wife can relax and feel secure. That will help her feel loved, as well.

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