Is Budgeting Too Restrictive?

Eric wants to know how he can get his wife on board. She freezes when he discusses budgeting because she sees it as restrictive.

QUESTION: Eric wants to know how he can get his wife on board. She freezes when he discusses budgeting because she sees it as restrictive. Dave explains that Eric needs to apologize first and then tell his wife why he wants to budget.

ANSWER: It is a restrictive thing. I have to say no in order to have some other things that I want. Life is about a restrictive thing. You guys aren’t in Congress. You have restrictive things. Money is finite.

There’s a good chance that in all of your wonderful enthusiasm, you may have turned my name into a curse word in your house. What you’ve done is talk about the what and not the why. The reason I got you on board, Eric, is I didn’t just tell you what you had to do; I told you why. You liked the why. The why was attractive. You went straight to the what and didn’t let her buy into the why. You owe her an apology. That will open up the door to start talking about the why.

Spend about 90% of your time talking about the why, and then the what or the how will be a natural byproduct once you buy into the why. You kind of blew it, so you have to backtrack and get back to solid ground in the relationship. That’s called an apology.

Your wife doesn’t want to punish herself unless she thinks she’s going to win as a result. The budget is not fun. But it’s the result that I’m after. The only reason someone would engage in restrictive behavior like a budget is if they thought it was taking them to a better place. That’s the why. The why is the better place. The how is the budget. Then, if she can’t buy into any of that and she says, “I just don’t want anyone to ever tell me no,” then what you have is an immature princess, and you may need some marriage counseling. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. I think you’ve miscommunicated this in your enthusiasm and given her a mixed message.