Diary of a Marriage: Honey, I Went Shopping …

A recent moment of sartorial weakness results in a dress, silk pants—and panic

Photograph by Martin Poole, ThinkStock.com.

I stood in the elevator Tuesday afternoon, heading back to my office after a whirlwind shopping trip, a new garment bag draped over my arm. I was flushed, a bit sweaty, and a little dizzy. I was on a full post-shopping high. But something that’s only started post-marriage was slowly creeping in: a sickly feeling of guilt.

I looked at the other people in the elevator—all men, all glancing surreptitiously at my shopping-laden arms. I could feel their derisive stares. They were feeling my husband’s pain. They were mad at me for him.

I shifted my weight and tried to hide the bag. A moment of indignation washed over me and I half-contemplated yelling at them all: What? It’s none of your business! And then, the doors opened, I was in my office, I was alone, and my garment bag with my new treasures was hanging on the back of my door.

I busied myself, but couldn’t shake the guilt. J. and I had agreed to tone down the spending, and J. had just bought me a fantastic pair of Prada sunnies for my birthday. Was that not enough? What was wrong with me?

I called my sister to make me feel better. It didn’t work—she gasped and told me to return everything. “You’re gonna be in soooo much troooouble,” she said in a hushed voice. I conferred with a few of my coworkers and decided that I’d try to sneak my bags into the house unnoticed. While it pained me to think of balling up my new silk Balenciaga pants, I had no other choice.

And this is the internal battle I face every day: What am I saving for? For a house, yes. A house with a yard and a third bedroom and space for a Man Room for J., who has silently suffered for years through my love affairs with mid-century modernism, Hollywood Regency, and Jonathan Adler-esque gilded glamour. But we are young! We should revel in our precious few childless years, and stuff our closets with fabulous clothes and shoes and jewels! If not now, when? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night. (Greedy and materialistic, I know. But I can’t help it.)

But J. never seems to have these issues. He has his eyes set firmly on the prize: Our future. Safe and padded with savings and practicality. Hmph.

I lasted until 4:00pm until I caved. I had to come clean; he’d see the bank statement eventually. J. picked up the phone, completely unaware that I’d spent more in an afternoon on clothes than he spends in six months. I heard myself telling him that I found a few amazing things; I’d be more than happy to forego all other Christmas presents if I could just please, please have these. He agreed, on one condition: that I don’t frivolously spend money until Christmas, and that he wraps up the clothes until the holidays.

I hesitated for a minute, and then relented. So now I have beautiful navy silk pants and a fall-perfect corduroy dress, one with sculptural, Roberto Capucci-like folds at the waist, and I can’t wear them for months. I look at them every night, and then look at J. pleadingly. But he stays strong. He will not budge. I’ve made my bed, I’ve bought my own Christmas presents, and I will have to wait.

But that’s fine. When I’m nestled next to him at night, I appreciate his sensible approach to money, to life. As I’ve written before, it’s a fine balance, and we’re getting it just right.

Plus, I have a fantastic pair of gray snakeskin pumps on hold.

Do you and your husband or fiancé see eye to eye on finances, or do things like this come up for you, as well? How do you compromise? And what do you do if you slip up? Obviously, I could use some tips.




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