Money Problems

Yesterday I struck up a conversation with my husband about an issue I have had for a while. It had nothing to do with anything he had done. It was, in fact, about a fight I had with my mother 15 years ago.

As with many brides, there was some stress in the planning of my wedding. It was not in the budget, or the culling of the guest list, it was entirely around the moral implications of my choices.

Let me first tell you the story of my wedding dress. Shortly after I got engaged, I started the search for that special gown. I was lucky to live in Manhattan so my access to choices were unlimited. I went to discount salons and sample sales. I ultimately bought my dress at the bridal event at Housing Works. Just so you know, that’s a thrift shop. It was $250 and was GORGEOUS. I was very lucky, most brides spend far more and don’t look half as good as I did. My mother bought me that gown.

Then it came time to buy shoes. I didn’t want to be one of those brides who couldn’t dance all night in her heels. I decided that the way to go was to get ballroom dancing shoes; what the pro’s wear had to be comfortable, right? I found a pair I liked for $200 and told my mom about them. She called me a JAP. We fought and I cried.

Just in case you are not aware, let me tell you what a JAP is. It is an acronym standing for Jewish American Princess. It is not a nice. It implies that I am spoiled and self-centered. That I am all flash and no substance. Superficial.

I did not get the shoes.

Why, after all these years, was I still thinking about this. The biggest one is that I still judge myself by her standards. I am a failure for wanting nice things. Scratch that, I am a failure for paying a lot of money for nice things. That wedding dress I mentioned earlier? If I remember correctly that dress retailed for over $10,000. But that was ok because it wasn’t full price. But it was also ok because I didn’t care that it was an expensive dress. God forbid I actually want something fancy for the pure desire to have something fancy.

So now, here is what happened with my husband: I told him that I was still obsessing about these damn shoes. Now, mind you, I have far more expensive shoes than those already in my closet. I felt if I just bought the damn shoes I could finally let go of this issue for good. That not having the shoes is what made me hold on. He disagreed and argued that if I did that I would just fixate on something else, but that is not what he meant. After a back and forth for a few minutes what I discovered was this was about money for him too! He liked that I had issues around money because it meant I was not spending all the time.

My husband doesn’t mind that I like nice things, he just doesn’t want to have to spend money on them. He loves when I go out and buy something that should cost an arm and a leg but have only spent a hand. Or that my idea of a nice date is a burger at Five Guys.

This is both the thing I take pride in and the thing I can’t stand. When I know something will inevitably cost more money than I am comfortable with I am in agony. When I get a crazy good deal the sun is shining. More often than not it is the former.

Is it worth working on something that serves me in so many ways?


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