When I was married I was a shopaholic. I was also in complete and total denial. Sure, back then I would have admitted I enjoyed shopping. But I also never believed it was an issue. I didn't think I had a problem. But now… hindsight is always crystal clear.
I realize now what I was doing… I was self-medicating with shopping to get through my marriage. Back then I probably (ok, seriously, I wouldn't have) would not have believed you if you'd walked up to me and told me that was exactly what I was doing… I likely would have protested, likely would have become defensive and simply not seen the glaring truth before me. I probably wouldn't have listened and continued on (shopping!) like I had been… merrily racking up more purchases under my belt and living in my state of perpetual denial.
Oh, how things have changed for the better. Amen!
This is a blessing that divorce has brought... a hidden, unexpected blessing… you know, those silver linings? Yeah, my wake up call came on the heels of my divorce regarding my regular shopping, ahem…. therapy. I'm realizing if I had every one of those dollars back that I had spent during the course of my marriage I likely could have sponsored half the children in an impoverished country. Embarrassing, but true.
We all undeniably want nice things, we want to create a home that exudes beauty, wonderful memories and comfort. But when those nice things begin to become an issue and were doing it merely to fill an unhappiness, a flailing marriage, an emptiness inside, that is a huge red flag we need some help. It seemed it was always something I was buying… Easter brunch meant scoring robin blue plates graced with bunnies at Target…. Thanksgiving meant shopping at Macy's for Spode plates sporting turkeys… Spring meant snapping up a handful of beach themed decor in pretty shades of sea green, cerulean blue and cream… along with oversized glass canisters to hold sea shells gathered on vacations… then there was the shabby chic bedspreads and ruffled bed skirts from Rachel Ashwell… you name it, I bought it… I was in what one would think to be shopping heaven if there is such a thing… having a natural knack for decorating and staging I thrived in that element… however, it would all one day come to a screeching halt and one would think that would be a bad thing… but actually, it's been one of the best things to happen to me.
The truth was, I needed to open my eyes and see, to realize that the slippery slope I was on was not good. It was subscribing to burden, to owning more and more, to trying to fill something achingly deep and unhappy inside of me that no amount of vases, pillows, lanterns etc could ever fill. Once I went through my divorce I had to downsize my belongings… as I began that process of editing it surprisingly felt wonderful… and most of all, very freeing.
I began realizing that if given choices in life, what I would choose… God first. Secondly, my family. Third, experiences in life like traveling, making memories… and last, some stuff, but not a lot. If those were truly my choices, my priorities then my actions needed to reflect it. I realized I had some changes to make and what was so great about it is I didn't feel the pull to shop after getting a divorce… and instead of fighting change as I would have at one time… now I actually welcomed it with open arms.
What I've learned… is that no amount of stuff will make you happy. But having less might. Now, don't get me wrong, I still own stuff… but it's been whittled down numerous times in stages since my divorce. You may have this big house and think "I have to decorate it!" Yes, we all want our homes to be decorated and to look beautiful… but there are extremes as well. I worked retail back in the nineties and I remember all too well women upon paying for their purchases saying: "I found so many goodies today! I'm not telling my husband I bought any of this, he will have a fit. What he doesn't know won't hurt him!" These types of scenarios were rampant.(Right now any husband's reading this are headed to their wife's car trunk or closet to search for hidden goods). Now, looking back on those statements, I realize during my marriage I was one of them… I did the same thing. As women we need to take a long hard look at our shopping… what are we buying? How often are we shopping? How much are we spending? What need are we trying to fill? Are we deep down miserable in our marriage? Do we not feel heard? Are we not connected to our spouses? How are we with Christ? It's time to take note of the relationship with Him and yes, our husband.
Today, I look back on those shopping therapy excursions and lament I wish I had every dime back… if your marriage stands a chance at flourishing the funds would be much better used toward couples counseling… that may bring you closer together…stuff won't fix the vast void between you.
Ask God today to give you the gift of self control… to receive it from the Holy Spirit… once we go to him and confide our weakness, our inadequacy within, that we desire to have self control, when we have realized that yes, we are not dependent upon ourselves, but in Christ, changes can take place. Are we allowing Christ to have control of our lives? Are we asking him for help in abstaining from seeking the world over him? Do we have hope for change and chiseling? Are we open to receiving it? God is always good.
DEAR HUSBANDS… when your wife shops too much and hides her purchases, it likely breeds distrust for her. Secretive behavior is a sign of addiction and not any different than gambling, over-eating, drug use, etc… all of these behaviors have the ability to turn our lives upside down, putting our families at financial risk and our marriages headed for divorce court. Your role as husband is to step up when your wife cannot… as she would do for you if you couldn't. Now is the time for you to consult with a marriage counselor and financial advisor. Gently remind her that you are taking these actions out of LOVE for her, not reprimanding or shame and you are completely committed to the relationship and her, that together with Christ you will stand in victory.
The best part of asking Christ for help in our spending and our marriages is that then were shedding the need to be a slave to the world… to credit cards, to hidden packages and shopping bags, to untruths like "Oh, I've had that while" when in reality you just purchased it last week… so today I give encouragement… to reassess your checkbook, your debit card account, your receipts squirreled away and have a candid talk not just with yourself and your spouse… but with Christ.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015
For Financial Advice… check out Dave Ramsey's website here