The Love Budget

Sometimes, you just need a little romance in your life. I believe that marriages that have budgets can also have romance. I don’t know how to make this work well yet, but I am determined to learn.

Last month, Dexter and I bought Wild at Heart by John Eldredge as an audiobook on iTunes. We listened to it on one of our many trips to visit family. It gave us a lot of insight about Dexter and a lot to consider as we make life decisions. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it. There is also a “women’s version” of Wild at Heart called Captivating (co-authored by John and Stasi Eldredge) which Dexter ordered for me on paperback swap. Fitz chewed it up, but it survived and I’ve read most of it. Being the well-rounded, nice, Christian girl that I am, I didn’t expect to learn much from the book.

I was wrong. Although I did skim over a lot of parts that seemed more descriptive than helpful or that seemed to repeat what I had just read in Wild at Heart, whenever it was Stasi Eldredge writing, I felt like she was telling me about myself. I learned that a lot of women feel lonely, even when they have good husbands. Wow, am I glad that’s normal. The book also talks about how women are often made to feel guilty because they are “too much and not enough,” meaning that they require too much (attention, romance, consideration) but that they don’t have it in them to do what they need to do (raise kids, keep the house spotless, exercise and eat right, exhibit general perfection). Captivating argues that women’s desires to be loved and romanced aren’t too much, but that they are a reflection of the way God wants us to love him. Reading Captivating helped me to realize I can be (and need to be) honest with Dexter about missing the “good ol’ days” of flowers, little gifts, surprise dates, and gazing into each others’ eyes over mochas (or, since our metabolism has slowed down since high school, tea or coffee with skim milk).

In one of our conversations about ramping up the romance factor in our lives, Dexter mentioned that it was hard for him to plan things because he was never sure what money to use or how much was left at that point in the month. He has a valid claim. I keep all of our cash envelopes in my wallet, and I keep up on our spending on Quicken throughout the month. I don’t usually bother to give him updates because he is so rarely the one to spend the money.

In our date envelope each month, we get $50. We hope to be able to squeeze two meals out (or ordered in) out of this. That doesn’t leave a lot of change in the envelope for romantic gestures. We also each get $20 a month of “blow money” as Dave Ramsey calls it. Sometimes, this lasts a long time (when I don’t have time to shop!), but sometimes, on day two of the fiscal month I spend $13 on a wallet that fits my envelope system and have enough left for about two lattes.

So, I’m looking for your advice. My advice to Dexter was, “I don’t care. Get a credit card. I just want you to do something!” but we both knew how mad I’d be if that happened.

How do you budget for romance? Do you add onto your “blow money” fund? Spend what you want and hope it works out? Have a “gift” envelope? I’ll try anything!


10 thoughts on “The Love Budget

  1. What a great topic and that you are actually budgeting for it! I’ve probably not done nearly enough in this area. Last night I made a nice dinner but it was a family meal. I don’t actually budget this but I have “scheduled” a date before.

    • Thanks, Tammy! It’s hard work to plan dates (I imagine even harder when you have kids), but having regular nights set apart as date night helps us not to get that “roommate” feeling.

  2. I understand your frustration at how to work out all the details!It also depends on what you really want. Do you want the staring into each others eyes? Cause that’s free and can be done sitting on a blanket under the stars- also free! Or do you want the gifts and to know you were the best thing he could think of to spend his blow money on? Or do you want to know that he thought about you throughout the day and put forth effort to tell you so in the form of a letter? Also free! Once you figure out how you’ll best receive the loving actions you can better figure out how to pay for it- or not!

  3. Being the big reader that you are, you’ve probably already read the “Love Languages” book by Gary Chapman. This sort of gets to what ambre said in her response. If you’re budgeting money or time or energy, you want it directed in a meaningful way. My “love language” is “words of affirmation”–so I got a little notebook that’s in our room and we can write notes to each other in it. Dave’s “love language” is “quality time”, which is why I will watch a football game with him on occasion. It’s also why our motorcycle is more than just a “toy”. I think one key thing is that regardless of the form of the gesture, you find a way to acknowledge the gesture as an expression of love. Thus, the “special” book for notes and me dressing up for a TV football game in my Packers sweatshirt. And just for another perspective, I think it’s very romantic all the time and energy you both invest in living on your budget. It’s romantic to invest in a sound financial present and future for yourselves. Love you CC!

  4. Thanks, A & A. I have read “Love Languages,” and unfortunately, I think my love language is gifts–which are often not free! It’s not that I necessarily want Dexter to think I’m the best thing possible to spend his blow money on–there’s not a lot of it and I don’t want to feel guilty every time he gives me something. I like to get the message that he was thinking about me when he didn’t have to be and wanting to do show me how much he loves me. I never wanted to be the kind of girl who likes to get flowers, because I thought it was shallow, but I LOVE getting flowers. I have been known to carry a vase from room to room so I wouldn’t have to stop looking at the flowers just because I had to switch tasks. I think my #2 love language might be quality time, but I appreciate that even more when it is a “gift” of quality time that he plans–evidence that he was thinking about me when he didn’t have to be.

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  6. I know this is a shocker, but your Dad will not have any advice for you. He gives gifts of his love language because he can’t ever think of anything to do or buy. And I do believe this lack of imagination could be inherited from you know who. So I’ve told him to talk to you to get ideas. Has he ever done this?

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  9. Hi, I found your blog and I have been reading up on all your past posts. I love your writing and the fact that part of your passion is your love for Christ…about your love languages, I also love gifts and its very hard to tell someone that coz it makes you sound like its the thing you are after, when its really (for me) more about the fact that someone took the time to think of me and then went to buy something for me.

    God bless!

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