Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Blame Game

When finances are tight, it's easy to start the blame game.
She and I are preparing to celebrate our first anniversary with a five-day trip to Lake Tahoe, CA. Other than our honeymoon, I rarely take vacations that include a hotel stay and a flight. I'm a frugal traveler: staying and playing as inexpensively as possible. I'm also a planner, thoroughly researching every option before making a decision (guess who's the first born). She, on the other hand, makes the experience the priority. It may be obvious where this posting is headed...
Last night, She was browsing some travel websites and came across some poor reviews of our lodging. Immediately, she voiced her fear that we were going to be disappointed with our accommodations.
Months ago, of course, I had read a number of reviews and visited many different sites before selecting our lodging. I also consulted her, learning that an outdoor pool was critical. Given these factors and our mutually agreed-upon budget, I made my recommendation, which she agreed would fit our needs.
So when she began passionately sharing her concerns, I immediately went on the defensive. I reminded her of the process we went through and agreement we arrived at in selecting the location, and (regrettably) discounted her fears.
Lesson 1: never discount your spouse's fears, as it only creates distance.
I went on to point my finger at her, questioning why she hadn't conducted her research before we made the decision (which she had, as I remember now).
Lesson 2: putting the blame on your spouse won't get you out of it.
After some quarrelling, I realized my mistake and attempted to reverse course.
Lesson 3: once you realize you've incorrectly assessed the situation, immediately apologize.
Once I recognized her fear, sympathized, and reminded her of the process we had gone through (not in an "I told you so" manner), her fears subsided. I had to assure her that we had made a good decision, and that it was the best option available given our budget and our desires.
Living within a budget is not easy, especially when you have different priorities. However, the worst thing you can do is make your spouse the opponent. Instead, talk things through, comforting each other along the way.

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