Keys to real happiness

Posted: August 06, 2014

I'D LIKE TO make a confession.

I watch Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." I know. Don't judge me until you hear why.

I'm intrigued by many of the "Housewives" shows. I used to watch the ones about the women in Orange County and New York. But these days it's just the Atlanta version.

In my defense, there are lessons to be learned from the materialistic musings of these women.

In particular, I was disturbed about a recent story line involving Kandi Burruss, a singer and businesswoman who technically wasn't even a housewife. She got married in April to producer Todd Tucker. But leading up to their wedding, the couple fought over the prenuptial agreement Burruss demanded that Tucker sign.

The fighting was ugly. Burruss didn't seem to want the man she said she loved to walk out of the marriage with anything more than he came in with.

When you watch any of the "Real Housewives" shows, you see a lot of emphasis on material things - big rings, brand-name purses, houses, cars - and a lot of unhappy people despite their wealth. Lesson: More money doesn't mean happily ever after.

Which brings me to the reason I'm telling you this - the next Color of Money Book Club selection. This time I'm reaching a little to pick a book that doesn't appear to have anything to do with money - but it does offer lessons. I've selected Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver (Nelson Books, $16.99).

Those of us who work with couples fighting about financial issues know that it's rarely just about the money. It's often about something else that manifests in overspending, miserly behavior or micromanaging what your spouse spends.

Earlier this year, the National Endowment for Financial Education released the results of a survey about financial infidelity. The organization found that roughly one in three adults who have combined their finances admitted to hiding a purchase, bank account, statement, bill or cash from the partner or spouse. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of folks who have been deceptive say their actions affected their relationships.

If you think your marriage is in trouble because of money, perhaps you need to examine your relationship.

Are you happy?

If not, what can you do to take the focus off your financial fights, which you assume is the source of your unhappiness?

Here's a start: Read Happy Wives Club. Weaver went on a tour of 12 countries to talk to women who were happily married. She started HappyWivesClub.com to counter the negativity we see and hear about marriages.

"The truths at the core of a great marriage are so stunningly simple - we can live by them every day without getting caught up in the little things that rear their ugly heads," writes Weaver, who has been married for 10 years.

It's refreshing to read about real housewives who, despite various disagreements, adversities and even infidelity, have found ways for their marriages to work. In one chapter, "And It's All Just Stuff," Weaver interviews Annett Davis, who competed in beach volleyball in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Money at times has been tight for Davis and her husband, yet they never let the rough financial times affect their marriage.

Weaver's book has a travelogue feel, which makes it a nice summer read. This is not a marriage-advice book. It offers insights into the lives of couples who have supported each other to success.

"Sometimes the husband supported the household, and sometimes the wife did," Weaver writes. "Which spouse brought in more money didn't matter. The respect and support of one another is what mattered."

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