Still driving home after his proposal to Jenny, Hank continues to marvel at the courtship process that changed his life for the better. He reviews his goals for his weekend retreat. Does he jump off the ledge into marriage? His conclusion was yes (as we saw in the last chapter).
His memory moves to phase two about the leadership of a married man, what it means as a responsibility. Enjoying his reverie, he laughingly recalls two sayings his country-boy uncle usually spouted to defend his own bachelorhood. All men are born equal, but some grow up and get married. You can lead a horse to drink, but you can’t make him water. Hank dreams of someday being a favorite uncle with a laugh ready to share.
He returns to the second phase, a plan for next step with Jenny. He loves her, she loves him, but that isn’t enough. He accepts a full array of responsibilities. How does he take over their lives as a couple, get Jenny’s buy in and promise that she will stand behind him, and hold it together for a lifetime? He does not intend to fail, so he has to be sure of her, and love is never enough.
Following notes made earlier, Hank thought through his concerns about responsibility and leadership. Settling into his rhythm for the retreat, he records the results as eight principles to guide him and hopefully her.
When the retreat ends, he will plant his foot of leadership by negotiating dispute prevention and problem resolution before they are needed. Jenny and he together will discuss and negotiate reasonableness into the following to be used as guidance to help solidify a good life together and enable him to find satisfaction for his effort.
- The purpose of life together is sharing; purpose of money is convenience; and purpose of extravagance is to please self at expense of someone else. He seeks agreement to no extravagance, neither in home, cars, nursery, Christmas presents, vacationing, nor child raising. They will have to negotiate a definition of extravagance for their home and life.
- Recognizing that financial success comes not from how much money a couple has, he intends to control what they do have. Consequently, he expects one or the other will maintain a budget to control finances, will merge their incomes, and allocate by prioritized needs and wants. He plans to propose this: first, a savings budget: second, pocket money budget for each; third, a home life budget for Jenny to manage; and finally a family budget—aka temporary savings—to cover the remainder with both to manage it. Zero is not allowed in any budget; all must have allocations, otherwise savings can be forgotten when new income arrives. Except for emergencies, big expenses are incurred only with approval of both. Hank has final say when they dispute, except as they negotiate something else. Jenny has full access to records and audit capability. The one most capable, willing, and successful handles the budget process.
- He will explain how he intends to lead by sharing responsibility, authority, and personal influence to generate respect and trust for all family members. The intent is to maximize benefits to home rule, relationships, and domestic harmony. (Details are at post 2540.)
- He seeks agreement on how they will jointly raise children but she will be the disciplinarian. The kids will have only one boss, mother. She will have one boss, herself as wife of husband. Father will be more helper to mother than boss to the children. She knows how to do it instinctively, but Hank will insist ahead of time that they coordinate their thoughts into one model aligned with that described more clearly at post 2540.
- He seeks agreement to settle all disputes before going to bed each night. Each is entitled to request that emotional wounds be mended with extra intimacy for her and extra satisfaction for him. The wounded requests, and the one requested must respond favorably—except that resentment on either side comes first and nullifies any and all requests. (Those who don’t resent are good spouses; those who resent after going to bed are less so, because they are not over the dispute and should not yet be in bed. IOW, successful dispute management comes from being a good person in the first place.)
- He likes this friendly dispute avoidance policy. When they can’t decide because of lack of interest or trying too hard to please one another (e.g., where to eat out, or what TV show or movie to watch?) she has to make the dangling decision on odd-numbered days and he on even-numbered days. No abrogation of responsibility is allowed; he or she cannot escape their obligation. To prevent disputes and discourage thoughts of revenge, on days not their own neither spouse can object or find fault with decisions of the other. Them’s the rules! Forced by the calendar to be a bystander every other day, they have no authority to even quibble much less find fault or criticize. Tomorrow is their day to be wrong or unpopular but protected from critique, criticism, and possible revenge.
- No parental disputes or even disagreements are allowed in front of the children or where they can hear. The first parent approached for conflict resolution or special consideration has responsibility and full authority to immediately rule on such issues and never to be questioned or reversed by the other parent. If thought to be wrong or their decision is unsatisfactory as seen by the other parent, both must take it up QUIETLY behind closed doors, resolve it for future occasions, and forgive and forget past events. Children are never to see anything but two parents in total agreement.
- When principle and personal taste are in conflict, principle prevails. Here’s a respectable and easily contestable example. TASTE: Wife wants to know sex of unborn child but husband does not. PRINCIPLE: Husband believes that adoration of expectant mother suffers after disclosure that a boy or girl is expected. She deserves to be the hero for full nine months, because the infant will receive all her glory after it is born. Early disclosure of fetal sex focuses thoughts on an untouchable infant that is beyond emotional connection to other than the mom. Knowledge of sex effectively gives fetus a personality for others to love, which preoccupies them about matters other than mother’s well-deserved glory. Color of clothing, decorating of nursery, future planning, re-allocating of funds, grandparents’s shopping, and excitement or jealousy among older siblings. It all takes the focus off the expectant mother. She deserves more, actually the ultimate in attention, respect, and adoration, because she will lose those blessings as soon as her delivery pain subsides. Prenatal glory for mom shifts to post-natal glory for infant, and mother love initiates that changeover. No justification exists to speed up the changeover except personal taste and that of doctors and nurses, who I suppose, enjoy it. Anyway, not knowing the sex is Nature and God’s way of rewarding the discomfort of pregnancy and pain of delivery. Mom alone should protect the pleasure of transferring her glory to her child. Seeing that glory shift at her pleasure-loaded discretion is a monumental event and compensates her for many mundane things that plague other parts of her life. Mutual adoration and mom’s glory should be the sole aim of expectant parents until the baby is born. Then others can be invited to share in the shift of glory from mom to infant. Father’s excitement returns because his adored mate is okay again.
And so, with his eight principles clearly described, Hank is ready to return to Jenny and begin negotiating about their life together.
However, third phase of his retreat awaits; he has to prepare his soliloquy. He hopes to match her champagne eloquence about virtual virginity with his own about marital responsibility. Her goal will shortly be achieved, she conquered him. His goal is just beginning to envelope his life with….