On Money and Vacations and Marriage. But Mostly Marriage. And Money.

09 June 2014

Jacob and I left on our honeymoon two days after we got married. I had no idea where we were going. (This is not the story I want to tell today, but I will tell enough of it to set the stage for the story that I do want to tell.) We arrived after many hours of travel in the Canary Islands. We got off the plane, chucked our luggage into a rental car, and navigated to where we were staying.

Let me pause here to reiterate that I knew nothing about our honeymoon except that I needed to pack for the beach and that Jacob had gotten "a really good deal." I like beaches almost as much as I like "good deals" so this sounded perfect, and I didn't need to know a single other thing.

As we drove up to this stunning collection of seaside villas, I started to get a little nervous. We were met out front by a manager, and I began anxiously looking around for where the Groupon people stayed. But no. She ushered us to our very own three bedroom two bath villa with a pool looking out over the ocean. I was petrified. I literally wouldn't even step inside. I looked at my new husband, and he seemed like a stranger. I didn't care how "good" of a deal this man had gotten, there was no way we could afford to stay here for ten whole days. Jacob turned to look at me at this precise moment - just as I'd started to get dizzy - and blurted out: "It's free! Katie, we're staying here for free."

The owner of the company Jacob worked for - a Spaniard and real estate guru - had offered that we stay in one of his villas as a wedding present. Eventually my heart rate went down and we proceeded to have a very lovely and very cheap honeymoon.

I feel like that anecdote is a microcosm of our life together: cheap, awesome, with occasionally poor communication and moments of sheer terror. So we'll let it be a precursor to this story. Today's real story:

We returned from our big honeymoon and began our little life in Los Angeles. I started grad school and he started an unpaid internship and we lived very happily in a converted garage apartment with no hot water in the kitchen sink until a newborn moved us into a whopping one bedroom apartment a couple years later.

When the baby was five months old, Jacob and his siblings rigged up a surprise trip to Maui for his mother's sixtieth birthday. They had lived in Hawaii in the 90s, and their mom had always wanted to go back. She'd hinted that she wanted to turn sixty on the beaches where their family had spent many magical years, but she didn't expect that her kids would do anything about it. Her kids are kinda crazy though, so like I said they rigged up this trip.

When his family first started talking about it, I weighed in as a disinterested observer because there was no way our little family would be making this Hawaii trek. Of Jacob's five siblings I thought perhaps the single ones would go, maybe even the married, childless ones, but certainly not us. Certainly certainly not us.

At this point, Jacob had been unemployed for six months. We had a baby. We lived in a one bedroom apartment. I was adjuncting at LMU, and I tutored privately on the weekends; Jacob had found a decent amount of work on commercial sets and even one long gig working on the set of ABC's Scandal; but we were dipping into our savings every month.

When Jacob told me that of course, of COURSE, we were going I was shocked. It was as impossible for him to consider not going as it was for me to consider going. We argued and argued about it and finally came to a miserable compromise: he would go without us. The arguments came to an end, but we were even more unsettled about it.  

One afternoon Jacob was on the phone with a sibling talking about the trip. He glanced at me tentatively, and I retreated to the bedroom in angry tears. It was so absurd. How could he even consider this?! I was struggling as a new mother. I had a high needs baby. We'd been living on the hope of one interview to the next for months. I was stretched so thin by work and mothering, and we still weren't making ends meet. I was the numbers person. I knew this was a stupid stupid financial choice. Why couldn't he see that? Just because we could pay for it didn't mean we could afford it. Not only was he going to Hawaii, he was leaving me alone with our five month old for a week, and it was on my plate to find extra babysitting help, and I didn't know how how I would pay for this extra babysitting because he was taking all our money and flying to Hawaii with it! Oh was I mad and, oh, was I justified. Jacob was so so gloriously in the wrong and I was so perfectly in the right that I marched over to the computer and chose the only option I had left.

I bought a plane ticket to Maui.

Because somewhere through the dark cloud of my anger I knew that "being right" was making me a horrible person. And the only hope that I had was for me to be wrong.

I could either be right and alone and miserable and chanting my angry justifications over and over in my head until he went on the trip, and after he got back from the trip, and for the rest of our marriage.

Or I could be wrong and spend a week on Maui with my husband and our beautiful baby.

I also realized that this impulse in Jacob was one of the precise reasons I'd married him. This desire - the desire to sweep his mother up on the surprise trip of a lifetime no matter the cost - was exactly what I loved about him in theory and consistently what I tried to squash in practice. 

That was several years ago back before Jacob moved us to Houston so he could make better money and we could be closer to family, back before I stayed home full time with the kids, back before I stopped being such a machine when it comes to finances. . . or maybe that hasn't changed.

But I'm learning to embrace life's little "fly to Maui" moments when they arise and let us go out to Chick-fil-a for dinner.

And Jacob has learned to keep a little stash of cash in the house that Mint.com knows nothing about. It's something he sets aside not for poker night, but for date night. 


  1. Umm, and yet again I feel like you're writing this for me, Kate. I am such the financial number crunching machine and it drives. me. crazy. Probably more crazy than it does Jacob but I also can't NOT be. Anyway I have so many thoughts about all this but they're probably too personal for a public comment so maybe one day I'll bore you with them in an email.

    And I remember drooling over the Maui pics as they came rolling in on Kathleen's Facebook.

  2. I didn't know this whole back story, but I'm SO grateful that you and Jake came along to Maui!

  3. This definitely hits home! My husband is frugal, as am I, but he's the "big picture" guy and I'm the "daily budget" person in our marriage. I'm much more likely to be anxious about finances and he's much more likely to operate on faith. After almost 20 years of marriage, I have to just present him with the budget information and the account information and then step back and let him make the decision and just trust that he's making the right one. Once I let go and just let him be the leader, it seems right and good. And I can't tell you the number of times over the years that I have been convinced we are one step away from the poorhouse, and my husband operates on faith and somehow, the money is always there. This past year was really tight because of an extra expense we had for about 10 months, but we made it, in large part because we really felt God was calling us to this place. And that's how it always ends up - prayer and faith.

  4. This is so wonderful. I feel like I'm a little bit of both of you...a traveler/doer by nature, but since marriage more of an anxious spender. What a great reminder to embrace moments like what you mentioned!

  5. You absolutely made the right choice. I'm not sure I would have been insightful and humble enough to do so. Good. For. You!

  6. I just pulled this post up as a break from perusing airline tickets for a kids free trip with my husband.. the cost of the plane tickets has me second guessing this decision, but maybe this was God's subtle way of saying just go for it...

  7. This is SO SO great! I married my husband for those same shimmering moments of not "how will we" but "wow I'm glad we did". Such great, wonderful guys we are lucky to have!

    Josh & I both keep spare cash hidden away, mine as a back up savings and his as fun rainy day money. Describes us both to a fault!

    1. Jacob just read your comment and said it was "insightful" ;)

  8. I love this! And I love how you wrote it. Perfect.

  9. I totally understand where you're coming from! My husband was a graduate student when we our daughter was born, and I worked full-time to support us. But even then it was living on THIN ICE as far as finances are concerned. Money can make people cah-razy, and add the stress of marriage and being a new mama. And yeahhhhh. Sometimes you just have to do something "stupid" on paper with money, because life is about so much more than that.

  10. Love this story. Too often I choose to be right and angry rather than wrong and happy. Thank you for sharing.

  11. I'm the Jacob and Sean is the Kate. I think marriage needs one of each. I'm the one that walks into baby gap and says "I'll take one of everything" and Sean's the one that sees my $27 spending spree at target on wellsfargo.com 35 seconds after I've walked out of the store. It's a balance though, isn't it?

  12. We went to Ireland and England on impulse while we were both in law school. WORTH IT! Even if I'm still paying it off because I can barely pay the interest on my student loans every month.... Oh well. I'm glad we did it while we had the chance, because we've been talking about another trip abroad, but OH MY the logistics when you've accumulated two dogs and a baby and live away from family.... We're putting in to get stationed in Europe next time, though. Fingers and toes crossed. PS - every time I pop some corn (i.e., every day... 2 hours ago) I think of you!

  13. We had our "be wrong" and together trip just in April. And boy June is looking tight. But it's worth it. And I love this post.

  14. So many emotions. For one thing, you really had my hopes up it was possible to get a really good deal on a fabulous place to stay in the Canaries. I was all excited to pack up my family and go visit my sister!

    (We'll still go in the next few years, but man. I want to stay in that villa!)

    I'm so like you with the finances, too. My blood was boiling on your behalf reading the story, which I realize is NOT the point, but...that probably means the story was perfect for me.

  15. I love this post, and I love your beautiful family and marriage.

  16. Kate, I just love the way you write. And this was a great tale! I am always trying to convince my husband that we need to take little trips and make memories while the kids are young because some things are worth more than money.

  17. Been thinking a lot about this post. I needed to read it. Thank you for writing! Bug hugs.

  18. I am glad that Hallie steered me over here this morning. What a good message.

    And what great writing! Love it!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...