Conducting A Wedding, My Wedding Anniversary & Financial Intimacy Oh My!Sep 22, 2022
The past weekend has been unlike any other in my life. In one day, I conducted a wedding for the first time, and I celebrated 16 years of marriage. To say Friday the 16th of September 2022 was magical is an understatement. Reflecting on this weekend, I see some valuable connections to the experience of financial intimacy that I would like to share with you.
Conducting A Wedding
Let me take you back in time before telling you about the wedding day. Over a year ago, I started working with Curtis and Melanie (not their real names) as their couples counselor. They are both young professionals who love each other very much. When we started working together, there was not one major issue but a smattering of different relationship stressors they wanted help with.
They needed help growing in their understanding of themselves, each other, their family histories, and how it set up their relationship expectations. Curtis and Melanie are fortunate to have grown up in families where they felt loved and cared for by their parents. Not always the case in the world of couples therapy.
As I got to know Curtis and Melanie, they made progress on their relationship health. As their relationship strengthened, Curtis proposed to Melanie. Shortly after the proposal, they asked if I would be willing to conduct the wedding. I was excited when they told me the date of their planned wedding. Confirming with my wife, she agreed that it would be a fun experience and one that was meaningful to both of us to share this experience with Curtis and Melanie on our wedding anniversary.
Tears filled my eyes a couple of weeks before the wedding as I prepared the vows for Curtis and Melanie. Reflecting on the meaning and experience of marriage, I know, like all married people, that marriage, even in the best circumstances, can bring its hosts of real challenges. At the same time, I was honored to help Curtis and Melanie cross one of the most significant relationship thresholds, marriage.
At last, the wedding day arrives, and Curtis and Melanie and their whole wedding party look spectacular and so young. It reminds me of how young my wife Ann and I once looked. It draws me back to the hope and innocence of first being married. What an honor.
As I lead Curtis and Melanie through the wedding ceremony, the eye contact and intimacy of marrying a couple strike me. To be there and watch this wonderful couple commit their lives to each other reminds and deepens my appreciation of my marriage. As Curtis and Melanie say I do, I feel a deepening I do in my own heart for my marriage. On the surface conducting their wedding ceremony was about helping them. Ultimately, I feel like I got the most significant gift of being invited into a sacred part of their relationship story. It would not end there.
Best Man Toast
I met Curtis and Melanie for the first time in person at their wedding rehearsal. I had been working with them remotely before this point. The rehearsal before the wedding was quick and efficient, led by the wedding coordinator. As we figured out transportation to Red’s on Shem Creek, I offered to drive a couple of people that had taken an Uber to the rehearsal. Miguel and Natalie ended up joining me. Miguel asked, so how do you know Curtis and Melanie? I said I was their counselor. He said, “ WOW, I didn’t realize they had some big problems.
Fortunately, I was able to tell Miguel that, quite to the contrary, they had been proactive and were working on the small details of their relationship so that they wouldn’t become significant issues. Breaking this misnomer that you wait until you have substantial problems before you go to couples counseling is so important. Sadly too many couples wait until they have deep resentment and contempt for each other before getting help with their relationship health.
Curtis and Melanie had been open with their friends about their relationship and the support they were getting in counseling. It is something they have told me about throughout our work together. Their openness became clear during Fred’s best man’s toast after the wedding. With tears of appreciation in his eyes, he talked about how Curtis and Melanie had been role models for him and his new wife.
Fred shared how Curtis and Melanie modeled what it was like to work on their relationship challenges and to be open about what they were doing. He said he knew his marriage would be more robust by being friends with them. As I heard this, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of pride knowing that I have played a role in helping Curtis and Melanie continue improving their relationship’s health.
One Nice Meal
The next day, Ann and I get time for ourselves after the wedding. In the busyness of life, work, and raising three boys, we knew we were due some rest and relaxation time. Fortunately, my parents and in-laws split up watching our kids, and we spent a long weekend traveling to conduct Curtis and Melanie’s wedding, and now it was time to celebrate our marriage.
Having Ann there with me through the wedding was such a gift. It gave us a chance to reflect on our special day sixteen years earlier, and all that has happened in the intervening years since.
Saturday night, we head out to a nice restaurant in downtown Charleston to celebrate. We talked about the wedding and all that we saw, experienced and were reminded of from our wedding. We also took time to dream into the future about where we are headed as a couple and family.
Sitting there at this lovely meal, I cannot help but be struck by how much I love my wife and how much we have grown and changed over the years. As I write this now, I think about how our own counseling and my individual experiences in counseling have helped us navigate starting businesses, living through three miscarriages, several deep misunderstandings between us and our parents, and moments of money misunderstandings with each other to name a few.
The Experience of Financial Intimacy
Every couple experiences the flow of money through their lives. The multiple roles and meaning of money show up in both obvious and subtle ways. Navigating life as a couple means navigating the reality of money in your relationship. This is true for Curtis and Melanie, this is true for Ann and I, and it is true for you and your intimate partner.
How does reading about my experience of conducting a wedding, reading about the best man speech and getting a peak into Ann and I’s nice meal impact you? What does it bring up for you related to your own experiences of marriage? And your experiences of intimacy and money?
For this past weekend, financial intimacy set the stage for what it was like for Curtis and Melanie to pay for their rehearsal dinner and wedding. They had countless conversations about how much to spend, who would be responsible for what and who would be paying for it. In planning a wedding it is a microcosm of the way you will make financial decisions in the future, and how much you will consider how those decisions impact the other people involved.
For Ann and I this weekend meant financial intimacy included deciding what type of hotel we would stay at, the number of “nice” meals we had, and our ability to talk openly and candidly about our businesses and what is currently happening in them and what that would mean for the next six months and couple of years.
We are currently working through decreased expenses in payed off business debt, car loan, and childcare expenses. Which free up cash flow to allocate in different ways. We both desire to be intentional about this financial transition. As we know how easy it would be to have all that money “disappear” into new expenses.
Financial intimacy is not an event but rather a way of being with each other. It means we talk openly and honestly about our expectations. We update each other as expectations evolve and change and we monitor our current financial reality for how it is changing while making plans for the future. It is pleasurable to become reflective and remind ourselves how far we have come.
Like many newlyweds, we had more debt than assets; we were figuring out how we would merge our financial lives and what our respective incomes would mean for our life. Now, sixteen years later, we have way more assets than liabilities, we have navigated many shifts in income and expenses, and we now recognize an ebb and flow to the experience of money in our lives.
Deep in the heart of our marriage, we know that the experience of money in our shared lives is both functional and psychological. Drawing on all of who we are as people and together as a couple within our family and community context.
My dream and desire is to help as many couples achieve financial intimacy in their lives. Much like I have helped Curtis and Melanie get started on the right foot in their marriage. I would like to invite you to check out my book The Healthy Love & Money Way: How The Four Attachment Styles Impact Your Financial Well-Being to help you take the next step on your journey of financial intimacy.
If you didn't get off to the best start with money as a couple, and it's still impacting you today, let's talk. Schedule a free 30-minute discovery call to talk about Therapy Informed Financial Planning.
Wishing You Healthy Love and Money,
MBA, MA, MS, CFP®, CFT-I™, LMFT
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