Last weekend Heidi and I spoke at an Engaged Encounter retreat. It works on the Cursillo model which involves a series of presentations interspersed with periods of writing and reflection. On each EE weekend we do, Heidi and I give some of the presentations and then try to use the periods of reflection to address issues in our relationship. This last weekend, we reached some conclusions about our money situation. And last night was the first in what I am hoping is a paradigm-breaking solution for us — the Thursday Night Planning Date.
In the past, we’ve each taken turns being the one saddled with the responsibility to “do the checkbook” and “pay bills.” This is something neither of us like — we enjoy the spending part just fine though. The job of accounting and paying for our life has always been a lonely, frustrating job fraught with non-communication and, at times, resentment.
At our last retreat, we decided on a more creative approach. To take this mundane dreaded task and turn it into a regular “date” at the local coffee house. Heidi and I know that we are formidable team and that together we can do anything. So why not do it together and relate our money to a larger vision for our household?
This will require that we not look at this part of our life as just getting and spending money. We agreed we need to take a broader approach to what constitutes “wealth,” “capital,” and “currency” and examine our expenses in light of what increases our family’s true wealth.
We’re talking different kinds of wealth — social, emotional, spiritual wealth as well as material wealth. How do we use all those things? Do we deplete our material wealth unnecessarily when some other type of wealth might fit the bill? Do we acquire “capital” — things that will help us create the various types of wealth in our home — more than we acquire “stuff” and consumables? Does every material thing we acquire fit our family mission and vision? How are we using our various “currencies” — time, skills, attention, information, as well as money — to build and spread our wealth?
Heidi and I are big picture people. We’re dreamers. And so our Thursday nights are set aside to put the mundane “chore” of paying bills into the big picture — in the light of achieving our hopes and dreams as a team.
But the road to growth is littered with the rotted carcases of bold new improvement initiatives. Of this I am all too painfully aware. What we need are prayers — yours and our own — that we will keep the resolve to keep this practice going.
But so far, so good.