Aaron and his wife Sophia had been saving up for a kitchen remodel, but unplanned expenses kept getting in the way. So when an after-school tutoring job opened up at the school where he taught, Aaron jumped at the opportunity. To announce his solution for completing their kitchen fund, he prepared a special dinner for Sophia—candlelight and all—and shared the “gift” of the new kitchen in a greeting card over dessert. She looked up, eyes wide, and asked how it was possible. He explained the side job and the extra income it would provide. Tears welled up in Sophia’s eyes—but they weren’t tears of happiness. “Honey,” she said, “I love that you are willing to take on extra work to make the new kitchen possible. But the time you spend with me and the kids after work is priceless to us!”
She said that while, yes, she would eventually like an updated kitchen, Aaron’s presence at home was way more important for their family right now. Aaron was taken by surprise. He couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to fast-track the project they had dreamed of for so long. He just wanted to make things better for the family, but she clearly had a different idea about how to accomplish that.
Husbands, can you relate? At one time or another you’ve probably felt the same way Aaron did. You’re trying to provide the best for your family, but your wife isn’t happy about the sacrifice that requires. So you’re caught between a rock and a hard place.
In our most recent book, Thriving in Love and Money: 5 Game-Changing Insights About Your Relationship, Your Money, and Yourself, Jeff and I talk about what is probably behind Sophia’s response—and what might be underneath your wife’s behavior. You see, what husbands are frequently working so hard to provide might not be what is really most valuable to their wife.
What Your Wife Wants Most is You
Take Sophia’s new kitchen. The idea of enjoying her passion for baking in a refreshed, more efficient space with room for seating so the family can hang out there . . . that’s a dream she has nurtured since they bought their fixer-upper.
And yes, when your wife is sharing her big-ticket ideas and desires—whether it’s about an updated kitchen, a cross-country road trip, or something else—she sure loves the idea. She, like Sophia, may even want to plan and save for it in the future. And it is wonderful that you want to provide that for her! But the reality of what it takes to get to that goal—at least right now—may not be worth it in her mind.
I know it may seem odd to you as a guy who wants to provide nice thingsfor your wife . . . but what she most wants is you. Your time, your presence, your availability to hang out with the kids and her. And if that dream of the new “stuff” means you’ll have to be gone lots of extra hours to pay for it, most women would trade off the “stuff” in a heartbeat.
In Sophia’s case, for example, although it was wonderful that Aaron wanted to provide the long-awaited new kitchen—and was willing to sacrifice to do it—she was thinking, But what good is a new kitchen if he has to be away so much that he can’t spend time in it? What good is having a nicer house if he is too overworked and exhausted to enjoy it with us?
Most Women Value Emotional Security Over Financial Security
See, guys, we love you first and foremost, and want you to enjoy life too!
You may not believe all this, but it really is true. In Thriving in Love and Money, Jeff and I share that most wives would gladly give up material things, dream vacations, the new kitchen, car or clothes, to have their man around more often. For women, their top security is emotional security. So Sophia—and perhaps your wife too—places a very high priority on making sure the marriage relationship is strong and the family is emotionally safe and secure. In fact, the need for that emotional security and closeness is so important that, in the research we’ve done, seven out of ten married women said they would even endure financial hardship, if that was what it took to ensure their husband was not gone all the time and the family was close.
Talk With Your Wife About Your Family’s Priorities
Aaron and Sophia would benefit from having a friendly, open conversation to engage in the kind of communication that is so important for couples to get on the same page financially. They could each share their perspective on what the priorities are for their family, what the best timeframe is for the kitchen remodel, and how they’re going to finish saving for it.
If you’re feeling overworked and underappreciated, why don’t you do the same thing? Maybe you—like Aaron—are willing to work extra hours for something that is nice but may not be the priority you thought it was. Or maybe you’re grimly sticking with a job you don’t really like, that takes you away from the family a lot, but you’re doing it to provide a nice standard of living. Talk with your wife about it. Be willing to hear her if she has been trying to express that she would gladly cut back on family expenses to have you take a more family-friendly job.
It is likely that, although you have been willing to exhaust yourself and sacrifice time with the family to provide nice things for them, what your wife really wants you to provide—what she truly, honestly wants from you . . . is time with you.
Are you reading Shaunti’s latest devotional, Find Joy? Please leave a book review on Amazon!
And check out her latest book (co-authored with her husband, Jeff), Thriving in Love and Money. Because you need a better relationship, not just a better budget.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.