and the two shall become one...wallet.

In my conservative circle, it's pretty nontraditional. Infact, it feels a little scandalous. But approximately eleven months before our wedding, Gabe and I have become one financial unit. Saucy. But for us, it makes sense. While we're trying to plan a wedding and prepare for our future, separated by miles and time zones, it's so much easier for us to keep our finances together as one. And, although I'd planned to find a part-time gig to juggle during the school year, we've decided that I'll remain jobless. Instead I'll hit the books hard, dedicating my extra time to more credits and obtaining my degree a little faster.

Late one evening on my candlelit porch, Gabe and I had a lengthy heart-to-heart about this. Working hard in the workplace, being needed and appreciated are all good for my soul. I've spent the last six months just pursuing my degree, and there are days I miss the workplace. There's something fulfilling about working hard for the money and being able to plunk down your cash for day to day expenses. When it's only his income, guilt seeps in. Guilty feelings that I'm not contributing to our future. Guilt, because he works fourteen hour days in Iraq...while I pursue my education, my creativity, my dreams.

Me. Me. Me.

Gabe takes it all in stride, calling his income is "ours", just like he's taken to calling his big house in Sacramento our house. His car is now our car. And my dreams are now our dreams....my time spent pursuing our dreams is just as worthy as his time spent pursuing an income, he says.

But even when the guilt over this life-shift subsides, it's easy for me to feel worthless in society. When asked, "What do you do?" my answer used to feel rather exciting. "Sounds worthwhile," people would say in response. But now, I shrink back. I hold my breath, hoping no one asks what I do. And when asked, I simply say, "Oh, I'm just a student."

But I'm not just a student, Gabe says. I'm a writer. A photographer, he says. A wife-in-training. A novice globetrotter. An artist. An interior decorator. A crafter. A maid. A wedding planner. A blossoming art historian. A gift wrapper. Oh, and a straight A student on the side.

"Do you get paid for any of these things? No. But you do them. And that's all that matters."

And he's so right. I am many things. But not a single one of them should be feeling like a "just a...".


  1. Even though our situations are a tad bit different, I'm totally in the same boat! It's definitely taking some getting used to...this whole 'not making my own money anymore' thing. In fact, I hate it, which is why I'm trying to change that. But luckily I haven't had any problem telling people what my new occupation is, because you're right, I'm not just a mom. I'm a billion other awesome things too.

    So yeah, it'll take some getting used to but by the time you do, you'll probably start pulling in loads of dough as famous international designer!

  2. I can totally relate to you on this. I got engaged three years ago and for the last two years I wasn't able to work because my school schedule was so demanding. Though I gave up all the fun, frivolous spending, there were always expenses I needed and my fiance was always there to happily pay for them, though he didn't exactly have a lot of money coming in himself. I felt SO GUILTY. I love being able to take care of myself, and this was so hard. I did learn something though, he didn't mind doing this because he loves being my provider because he loves me. And that's probably the same for Gabe :)

    P.S. I, a straight A student as well, worked so hard in school that if anyone made me feel inadequate because I was "just a student" I'd have to punch them in the face :)

  3. Enjoy it. I was a single working Mom struggling for 5 years. Recently I married the love of my life and my best friend and a man who wanted me to do what I wanted to do. He encouraged me to start out our marriage as a stay at home mom. Taking the time and energy I've never had to truly focus on my daughters. Help them adjust to a new state and heal after a contentious custody battle that left us all feeling vulnerable and somewhat violated.

    I have my college degree and have worked my entire adult life. I'm so lucky to have a man in my life who is encouraging me to do what my heart desires and who appreciates all that I do during the day while he's off at work.

    ps...after having been separated by time zones and 900+ miles for 2 years I appreciate how every night when he walks in the door of OUR home every night after work.

  4. I remember reading in a financial planning book about how even the "non-employed spouse," is just as crucial to the marriage.

    In my case, staying home means we don't spend more for childcare, house cleaning, everything. Since I love staying home with my kids, I don't mind not having a great income, but I still know I'm a huge asset to our family.

    And yes, "Our" is wonderful!

  5. Amen girl. That's incredible that you have such a strong support system-- this guy sounds wonderful! I'd say this is quite similar to the stay-at-home mom thing. No, I'm not just a stay-at-home mom, I'm a full time mother, I work part-time on-line, I'm a full-time student, I'm a chef, a housekeeper, a nurse for those little boo-boos, the list goes on and on. Sometimes it's just gratifying to write down all of the things you do in a day and realize that you are more than you appear to be :) And there is more than meets the eye!

  6. I think I needed to read this post this morning. I've always been just a student. Even this summer I'm taking grad courses while Noah is doing his last ever summer job. It makes me feel bad because he ends up paying for most things any more. Although we've always alternated who pays depending on who's making more money at any given time.

    What Gabe said (through you) is so beautiful. Every part of a relationship is important and you should feel bad about going back to school to do what you really want.

    Often we look at the negatives but your list of who you are is beautiful. What a great reminder that we are truly so many things.

  7. My guy and I are in a similar spot. When I met him he was working but we decided he should "just" go to school and I would support our little family. I take pride in knowing that he can concentrate on his studies and not have to worry about money. Don't feel guilty, I'm sure your honey loves that you two are making decisions together for your future. And isn't that what makes a great relationship? The whole he brings this and I bring that and together we make it all work.

  8. I think that would take some adjustment - but if anyone can do it with class and grace it is you.

  9. Ahh- I so relate to this. Throughout our married life we've done both. First we both worked, taking turns on our dream jobs. Then I worked a few jobs and supported my husband while he went to school. Then we worked together and learned how to live on a nearly zero budget. Then I pursued my dreams while he supported me. I totally love that it's been a give and take. But it was hard before I had a baby- to just say I'm a struggling entrepreneur. And we chose to do it that way so that I had more time to volunteer and do other things. It's so hard in our world to say you do anything and not be judged if it's not the standard 9-5 (especially if you're not a mom or a student). If you choose not to spend money, you can choose not to work as much. I have a feeling even if you got paid big bucks for blogging the average joe still wouldn't get it. It's something I'm still learning how to handle. I am too proud and don't have enough confidence to really say what I do. I wish our society placed more value on other things. And I hate that the first small talk question is always what do you do? Why can't it be, what are you passionate about, what do you love doing?

    Ok, now that I've written a book- You always seem to touch on things that people can so relate and struggle with- online therapy!

    And can I just say Wendi is amazing. It's so good to hear other people share. It's nice to relate and get some perspective. Single working mom, and long term, long distance relationship- wow!

    Yes I say appreciate it and don't worry, and if you ever figure it out on how to feel confident about it, please share! At least you know the bloggers have your back!

  10. Getting your education is admirable, so you should be proud when people ask you & you can say that. Its also nice to have this opportunity to do all the other fun things you enjoy & are amazing at, your writing is always great, the pics you post that you've taken give me camera envy & your crafty-ness is beyond impressive, so, enjoy this time because if you do re-enter the working world, it can be a tough balance. Sounds like his support is amazing, I can always sense your happiness through your blogs, thats great!!

  11. Your current pursuits are vital - to your well-being and your future plans.
    While it may seem as though you are "dependent" on Gabe's income (after working hard to establish your self as an independent person) you need to remember that you are contributing to your union. Gabe obviously values those contributions...
    Over the years I've considered myself very fortunate that both our outlook on life and Tim's ability to support us has allowed me to concentrate on home and family without the complications of a 40 hour work week. My foray into college studentry has given me an earnest respect for the women (young or old) who have to fend for themselves, raise kids and work on a degree.
    You and Gabe are in a good place - appreciate it.

  12. my first thought when I read this was that getting your degree done as fast as you can makes sense financially. It means you'll be done sooner and then you will be ale to focus more on a career once you are done.
    Congrats on being a straight A student by the way. That's an accomplishment to be proud of. xox

  13. Aww, babe. This post moved me. I often feel like I shouldn't be explaining myself, because people give me a look when I tell them I want to be a writer. People give me that look that people give you when you say you want to be an actress or a rock star, you know? Like it's not sensible. And it's not, I guess. But sensibility is not why I want it. The passion I have for it is why I want it. Don't give up, and never apologize for who you are. Because who you are is amazing. :)

  14. He's awesome. And so are you. What a perfect pair you make. I'm so glad you've found someone to wholeheartedly support you in your creative endeavors.

    I'm not surprised that you're a straight A student, by the way. You strike me as the time to throw yourself into things completely {take those amazing "be my maid?" boxes, for example}

  15. Thats so sweet and he is so right. Going to school and juggling just life is so hard sometimes. You can do it!

  16. I loved reading someone else verbalize what I often feel about "just being a student". I always dread being asked that question because it seems that everyone is defined by "what they do" and if that thing isn't something amazing, well it means somehow you're not amazing either.

    So here's to always remembering that even though we're students (at this age), we're so much more than that. Thank you for reminding me that I need to remember that and not feel ashamed because I'm "just a student" :)

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