The real wedding vows happen at the bank

On Aug. 19, Justin and I got married!

My hardest vow, though, didn’t come until a few weeks later.

But first, a review. Weddings are weird and always bound to be sort of disappointing. They have to be. I mean, we put such meaning behind one day — yes even those of us who think we don’t. It’s never going to be exactly as we imagine it.

That’s not to say our wedding ceremony, honeymoon and weekend of receptions weren’t deserving of every glowing superlative (beautiful, amazing, wonderful, magical, etc.). They were. And we feel more in love than ever. But weddings make for a lot to take in in a matter of hours!

Also, I’m not an event planner and never want to be. That’s a role you’re thrust into when you try to plan a wedding. Y’all who do that for a living, major respect. That profession requires a serious skillset underlined by an ability to stay in control of your emotions, of which I have never and will never be the proud owner of.

Remember that show “True Life” on MTV? And remember the episode “I’m Getting Married”? And the limo is way late picking up the groom Charlie B.? And Charlie B. loses his shiiiiiiit on the limo driver? Like seriously loses it?

 

 

Dude, I get Charlie B. I get it now.

I GET IT, CHARLIE!!!

(Sidebar: Doesn’t Charlie’s “ultimate freak out” now seem quaint, almost rational, compared to the, er, “humanity” we’ve all been exposed to on social media?)

Our limo was also late to our Marion reception. In fact, the whole venue, which was our limo provider, made the planning process and first two hours of the reception pretty much a nightmare.

If there was one thing I wish I had spent money on during my wedding, it would be this: a wedding planner who could have dealt with all of that and the aftermath/ haggling of prices so we didn’t have to.

It’s quite the emotional juggling act to one moment be hugging your grandma, thankful she could be here for this in this beautiful moment (think: “I love you!”), while simultaneously trying to maintain a justified level of rage so that you don’t forget anything when it comes time to hammer out the final bill (think: “I’m not paying for that!”).

Oy.

But. All of that aside, I recognize the Pinterest lesson in here. All that matters is that we’re married, that we have each other. And that’s true. I can let everything else go. And I did.

I was ready to slay being a modern married gal!

Wifey.

Or so I thought.

***

Justin and I had decided long before the wedding day that when we got married we should combine all our resources. We’ve lived together for a while and share a credit card, so really the only area left to share was our actual bank accounts.

We learned our lesson the hard way in Jackie + Justin 1.0. The first round of our relationship ended in epic defeat thanks to a lot of things, but one of them being our competing views of how a couple should handle money.

Justin was very, “Heeeey, we work hard for our money and should spend it / not make it the focal point of our lives. I’m frugal but also a spoiled baby.” I was very, “Money is terrifying to me and is a symbol upon which I thrust all my weird issues of trust, guilt and worthiness, and also I won’t feel ‘OK’ until I have a lot of it saved in the bank. Actually, I’ll probably never feel ‘OK’ about money and will never feel safe. Life is scary. Hold me. Get off me. Hold me.”

We knew when we got back together we had to find a middle ground and talk about it — honestly and often. So in Jackie + Justin 2.0, we had frequent and frank conversations about money. In 2.0, we split our living expenses straight down the middle. Everything was equal. Everything was fair.

We were a team that learned to trust each other with our maturing ideas of money, but our bank accounts remained our own. And that was smart. Why marry the cow when you can get the milk for free because the cow is making the money to buy the milk in the first place? Or, better put, why put your financial lifeline in the middle when you haven’t made the ultimate commitment to each other yet? That’s an undue amount of pressure when you’re still building your relationship.

While I know money isn’t everything, I do think money is freedom. Money is more than a number to me. Being financially stable means being independent, which is in my top three Mantey Hierarchy of Needs.

I think that’s fair. What was unfair to him, and what I worked through in 2.0 before our marriage, were my hangups about money. I was overly cautious, miserly even, about being taken advantage of financially, something I used to let happen in my relationships and often overcorrected for.

Also, I think money is a uniquely difficult subject for women. My worst fear was to be someone left completely broke and loveless when a relationship ended, reminiscent of many women of generations past, who didn’t have their own means of earning or a way to contribute to her own safety and freedom. Relying on a man for money felt like an old-school way to keep women under the thumb of the men in their lives.

I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s how I approached it. When I was single, I would never let a guy buy me a drink because then it felt like I owed him something — a conversation at least. I didn’t want to have to make decisions about my time, body or heart based on that, and I thought it unfair to guys that they had to be the ones putting out, literally paying for it, with no promise of it being worth it. It made the initial dynamic too unbalanced.

But now I was getting married, committing myself to being a team of two. Being a team of one came more naturally to me. But despite all my money trauma, I knew sharing money was something that was important to me, something that signified the sacred intimacy and bonds to which we had just vowed. Money is the modern virginity. Not sharing a bank account felt like, for us at least, an unspoken way to say we didn’t trust each other and we were protecting ourselves just in case it didn’t work out.

I made the decision to combine knowing I could trust Justin. We’ve worked really hard to build that trust and the boundaries that made us each feel comfortable within that trust.

But could I trust myself to be cool with it?

Before we closed our accounts to start a new one together, I asked Justin if sharing an account meant we were 100% equal owners of it. He said yes. I did my research, which also said yes. Even knowing this, I asked our banker before we signed everything over, “Hey, we’re equal owners of this account, right?”

To which the banker laughed and said, “Yes, you can take out all the money if you wanted.”

Yikes. Even the banker picked up on my distrust of the situation. It hurt Justin’s feelings, to which I scoffed.

“I’M ALLOWED TO ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR MONEY!”

True, but after some dinner, a nap (always important) and deep thought, I acquiesced that I could have asked the banker that question with less of a “Can he steal this from me?” tone of voice. Because we were contributing equal amounts, I could steal from him too. I was taking that equation off the table and hogging the vulnerability of joining our resources.

Of all the promises we’ve made to each other since Aug. 19, this one feels the most real, the most life-changing. This one feels like the most intimate. Probably because every other commitment we made, we were already living — fidelity, honesty, love and support.

I’m happy to report that in the week or so since we’ve taken joint custody of our finances, it was worth it. That final line between us as separate people has dissolved and there’s something motivating about that. It’s exciting to talk about money with him — about our goals and our work, what we’re saving for and what we’re buying now. I don’t feel watched, I feel supported. Knowing what the other has financially and offering it selflessly to each other symbolizes the ultimate 21st century faith in each other. And doing it in a way that made us both comfortable (ie. equal legal standing) further proved our ability to live in a way that made the other feel safe.

This is our life together now. Every decision we make will be made with the other front and center. That’s cool. That’s marriage. And having one bank account — more so than sharing a name or a ring or an apartment or a late limo ride and ensuing rage attack — made us one.

 

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