Recession Mama

{April 20, 2009}   Love doesn’t buy the bread, but it might be all we need.

By Katy

Recently, a comment on a recent post was misinterpreted, and when I started to explain what I had meant, I ended up with writing almost an entire blog post. So I thought I’d share my discussion:

In a comment to Carla’s recent post, I wrote: “The recession is helping us all slow down!” And here’s what a reader wrote: Can’t say I agree with you on this. This is from my own person observation with friends and family: People who have lost jobs or had their salary cut back back up to 30% are now working TWO jobs to make ends meet. They have done away with conveniences such as the cleaning lady, yard guy, etc. and are doing that themselves, too, in additional to large number of additional hours worked. People that still have jobs are working long and harder than ever. Salaried folk are getting to work earlier, staying later, etc. all in hopes of keeping their job. Hourly people are working “off the clock” trying to keep their jobs. With layoffs, the people left at companies have had their duties increased beyond what they can physically do in one day and are totally stressed trying to get it all done. I know I haven’t slowed down. I’ve gone from a job that was manageable at 8-9 hours a day, to working 10-11 hrs a day and working at home after that and on weekends to boot.

Let me, first, digress for just a moment. I am not trying to “defend” what I said, or argue. We, Recession Mamas, love our readers! I am personally humbled when I meet friends or hear from total strangers that they’re reading this blog every day and that they can relate and are glad we’re trying to help each other out and tell our stories. I’m happy to hear a friend, recently, tell me that instead of being depressed or wallowing in this recession, this blog feels very “hopeful” to her. So this post is in no way going against what a reader wrote. I just want to make sure I’m conveying the idea that I believe that what this recession has taught ME, personally, is that love is important and that work should not define who I am.

So here’s what I started telling this dear reader (shortened and altered slightly):

I didn’t mean “slowing down” in terms of work. Believe me! I always seem to have two jobs, and even before this recession I’ve always worked long days. When I’m not working, I volunteer. In college, I had three jobs. For a long period in my younger life, I worked 7 days a week — Monday through Friday at a local TV station, and weekends, I worked at a local radio station. So, I would never be the one to say that we’re slowing down, in terms of work. What I really meant was slowing down and seeing our lives in a real way…that it isn’t all about money…that what really matters is love (or as the Beatles say)…”all we need is love.” In fact, my fiance and I thought we might fight MORE because of the pressures of not having two incomes, at certain times this year, but instead…we’ve gotten even closer. So, although I’m a practical girl who grew up with a Grandma that told me…Love doesn’t buy the bread…I slowed down just enough to see that love and support help get you through the tough times.

All You Need Is Love

"All You Need Is Love"

Let me now expound on that. Before this recession, I truly saw a lot of my relationship with my fiance, financially. I don’t think I really realized this, until the recession hit. I was always thinking about equality in our relationship, also in terms of how much we made, how much we contributed to paying for needs and wants, and thinking that whoever made more money should get the right to have more say in the relationship. It took this recession before I realized that this was all crazy! Oprah’s show, “Recession Proofing a Marriage,” started a provocative and stimulating discussion for us. Would a marriage survive if one person lost his or her job? For one couple on the show, it didn’t seem to be good news. After the husband lost his job, the wife moved out and took their child and her parents took her in. They also wanted her to get a divorce from the now “loser” husband who couldn’t provide for his family. The wife admitted that she expected her husband to be in the driver’s seat and always saw her role as passenger. Using this analogy, one blog reader asked if they were in a car and her husband had a serious injury or couldn’t drive anymore, would the wife just sit there and let the car crash and risk their lives? Or would she step up, take over the wheel, so that both of them could live? (I think this is worth mentioning because it’s how I feel about a good relationship.) So, after watching the show, my fiance and I were appalled at the woman and her parents! What?! Just because the husband lost his job, he also has to lose his wife and no longer be a father to his own child anymore? How and why does money define us so much?

When my fiance and I first started dating, he told me that his biggest fear was not being able to provide for his family. I think this is a big fear for a lot of men, but no one had ever said it out loud to me. While dating, money was never much of an issue. But when we decided to get married, we started talking about finances since it’s the #1 thing people argue about. We soon discovered, to my dismay, that we have extremely different financial situations and very different ways of handling our personal finances. We started to argue quite a bit over this “new” discovery because although I have never dreamt about the fairytale wedding, I HAVE dreamt about a better financial picture. Well, after the recession hit, and my “steady” gig of almost a year and a half ended (really long for television, I may add), I started to “slow down” and see my fiance in a radically different way. No longer did I see our relationship in terms of how much money we made. (And yes, it was partly because I was no longer bringing in any money besides unemployment.) He was the one who went to work every day, and I was very unproductive (for about two weeks, then before I got another gig, I decided to start volunteering.) But while I was out of work and unproductive, my fiance never once said to me…”Hey, sweetie…since you’re not working right now, do you think you could do more around the house?” Instead, when he came home after a very long day at work (usually 10-12 hour days), if I hadn’t made dinner, he would just roll up his sleeves and do it! He was supportive (told me everyday that I deserved a vacation after working so much in the last year or so), kind, uncomplaining (Well, he never really complains about much. I just had not noticed before.) All of a sudden, he turned into the man of my dreams, and I didn’t even know what those dreams were made of before! And although I used to be super cynical and agreed with my Grandmother that “Love doesn’t buy the bread.” I, now, see that Love may not buy the bread, but it definitely helps you to get through the hard times together. It also helps that I slowed down and really saw what I am grateful for…my health, my supportive family and friends and their good health, my loft (a roof over my head), nice and fun neighbors, no debt and a year’s worth of expenses saved so I can eat and sleep at night, and most importantly, a partner in life who makes me laugh and gives me love and support. I think he will make a wonderful provider for his future family, and I am so lucky he found me.

Carla says:

Katy, I learned something new about you just now. I never knew that about your Grandother. My Grandma used to always tell me “Love don’t pay the bills.” I love that saying, but honestly it’s pissed a few people off along the way. Oh well, I understand what she was trying to say. You are so right about “slowing down”, but not in the sense that we’re not all working out rear ends off right now, because we are (even those of us who are unemployed, believe me!)…but in that we are being forced to look at and look for what is real in our lives, no longer just focused on the money and how much we each brought in. Great post!

recessionmama says:

Thanks, Carla! And I definitely believe you that you’re working hard, maybe even harder right now!

Heather says:

I love the comment “Love doesn’t buy the bread.” Love can get you through a LOT, but sometimes we ladies have to be practical and realistic. I love and trust my husband completely, but I still want to know where every dime is going and how it all works. I don’t want to be clueless if he needs me to step up and take control of everything. So, I pay the bills and handle the day to day. That’s one less thing he has to worry about.

I know many women who have no clue about their family’s finances and that frightens me. You NEED to know what’s going on. If you’re taking care of the house and the kids, then you already have a job and you’re super busy. But you still need to know what money is coming in and out. Take charge of the monthly bills. Ask about retirement accounts, 401K, stocks and etc.
I’m not saying your husband or partner is going to dump you, but someday it may be up to you to take care of things.

I know a very smart woman who let her husband take over all of the financial responsibilities because she was busy with the kids. She didn’t know that he had canceled their life insurance policy to help with the costs of starting a new business. He was in his 30’s. So no big deal right? He sat up in bed one night and said his head hurt. Then he dropped dead of a brain aneurysm. Her world went from perfect to upside down. He didn’t mean to hurt his family. He thought he would drop the insurance for just a few months. But it devastated his family finanacially. The wife had to sell her home and go back to work. Her youngest child was just a few months old. It’s an extreme example but it’s true. Thankfully, she had kept her “hand in the business” so she was able to go back to work. But it took awhile to find a full time job.

Another example, a married woman decides to divorce her husband but finds out his “stated taxable income” doesn’t match their lifestyle. He’s obviously been hiding cash in accounts and fidging the numbers. She’s not even sure where to begin or how to track it. So, mamas please keep up with the finances, ask questions, and be really aware. And get a credit card in YOUR name. Charge just a little every month and pay it off every month. You need to have a credit history and it needs to be a good one. Even if you work and help pay the bills, you will not have a credit history if all of the cards are in your husband’s name. Also, mamas try to keep up with your “connections” and network, network, network. I know times are difficult right now, and jobs are hard to find. But please try to work part time, freelance or volunteer. You’ve got to put yourself out there. You need to keep your skills “fresh” and your resume current. Especially during these difficult times. You may have to step up, pitch in and help buy the bread.

recessionmama says:

I completely agree, Heather! We should all take control of our finances. There are no excuses. I think those of us who are losing half or more of our 401K’s and other retirement accounts understand this reality. If we let someone else handle our finances, we become victims.

Great blog! I personally like the slowdown… life was going too fast and I’m enjoying the small things in life again. And yeah, “stopping to smell the roses” won’t pay the bills, but it at least puts a smile on my face (especially when my dog stops to literally smell a rose when on our walks). 🙂

recessionmama says:

How cute! I love when dogs and cats sniff flowers. It’s an amazing sight! And thanks for reading!

[…] loved each other, it might carry you though immensely tough times.  And like I’ve said in a previous post, I also don’t think just having money is the answer either.  But before anyone gets married, […]

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