Something that I know fellow chronic pain sufferers are familiar with is difficulty with their finances. I don’t know anyone who plans on having to go out on disability; it’s typically an all-of-a-sudden type of thing. In my case I wasn’t eligible for two months before I took it (so I had a little notice) but not enough time to build up any type of savings. Since I was making a good salary but still had/have a lot of expenses, things have gotten very stressful and somewhat out-of-control. My mind is constantly ruminating over all of the outstanding debt we’re collecting since I am not producing any income. My husband is still working thankfully, but his salary goes towards keeping up with our basic needs and utilities. If I didn’t have all the medical expenses piling up such our high health insurance premium, doctor visit copays, hospital visits and medication costs, we would be in a much less severe situation. I applied for disability months ago to help supplement our income until I can at least get to a point where I’m able to work part-time somehow, but of course that is taking forever and I don’t expect it to be an expedited timeline based on what I’ve heard from other people who have gone through the process.
I’m being transparent with this taboo topic because I know that I’m not the only married person suffering from chronic pain who is dealing with this. For too long now it has been an emotional roller coaster; every time we get a late notice in the mail, or a collector calling, I can’t help but put the blame of the situation on myself. Before I took the leave of absence my identity was so wrapped up in my work and I got so much of my self-esteem from how hard I worked to achieve the position I held, loving my job. Not being able to contribute financially to my family has made me take a hard look at my ego, how I view my self-worth, and the tendency I have to feel completely responsible for our financial situation. It has caused us a lifetime of arguments over the last year or so; not the most ideal way to spend the first year of marriage.
What I’ve learned so far, although still very much going through it, is that communication is the most important thing to practice. However, I learned this the hard way because I was always the sole person that handled the finances. I’m still the one who takes on the responsibility of monitoring where we stand, and what needs to be paid & when, but for the six years our finances have been combined, I’ve balanced the books. It hasn’t been until my work leave that we haven’t been able to make ends meet, and it has put so much stress and pressure on the relationship itself. I’ve recently had two close friends explain to me that having a short business-type meeting with their spouse about where their finances stand each week helps them to communicate effectively, stay on track and meet their financial goals. I think it’s a great idea and something I’ll start implementing right away.
If anyone has a recommendation for a helpful tip, or a great book on this subject, I would appreciate if you left the comment on this site, or our Facebook post. I’ll share any and all beneficial information with the group once I vet the feedback, and my goal is to provide a follow up to this blog post in a month. At the very least I aim to communicate back to everyone reading that my husband and I have cut out all of the non-essential items we purchase (down to the nitty-gritty), and are BOTH fully aware of where we stand financially every day. Wish us luck!
A shout out to those two friends who had the tough financial conversations with me–you know who you are.
Sending you healing vibes,