Grocery Budget Woes

The following is an emotional processing brain dump. I am not a fragile person and you don’t need to feel anything about all the stuff I’m going to say. I want to hear myself write it all out so I can see where I can be gentler and less resentful, is all. I’m pouting and eating an ice cream cone, (junk food is a waste of money, yes, but Fetch paid for all but 3 cents of it) and wishing I knew how to communicate with my husband about the grocery budget in a way that triggers objective thought instead of reactive angry guilt mode.

My husband is our main cook. I’m incredibly dependent on and thankful for him, because I have a chronic ilness and wipe out about 4 PM when he’s home, even when I’ve had a good day. I either take a nap or watch him watch youtube (when he’s not cooking) and feel alone when he’s home. Telling him that it makes me feel lonely usually results in him staring at me for five minutes before getting distracted by his phone. He struggles with shame that he smokes (and I don’t) or that he’s obese (when I’m only overweight, and only since we married) and that he’s less interested in personal development and advancement than I am. Shame despite being the first in his family to graduate college. Shame despite having been a youth minister before. Shame despite moving from class 3 obesity to class 1 obesity over the course of our marriage, and staying in class 1 obesity for the past several years, woot!

I recently purchased a weight loss coaching program that reminds me of all the ways it was easy to be thin when I was younger, and of the skills – mostly emotional regulation – which I am missing, now that I am older and have more emotional responsibility, which result in emotional eating (yes, this ice cream is emotional eating. But I’m not eating so much that it’s going to overwhelm my system. I’m doing it consciously, and enjoying the way my body handles this one ice cream cone, with nothing else. It handles it well.) I am enjoying the program, but he gets testy about food right now because, “You want to do all these things and I don’t. I should want to, but I don’t.” — typing that, it probably /definitely/ signals that he’s depressed and unmotivated.

I am busting a gut when he gets in that mode, trying to suggest hobbies, trying to think of things that cheer him up, or friends that would benefit from hearing from him. He’d get mad at me for using my psychology skills and writing out for him what he’s saying so that he could see how self-sabotaging his mindset is. He’s mildly aware that he’s shooting himself in the foot, and he’d like to keep doing so without my interference, because he did it, and he wants to feel some autonomy in the process. I didn’t buy this course to be ashamed of weight. I bought this course because it trains you out of diet brain- the thoughts that foods are bad, that the weight means something about you, and the thought that weight loss gets harder as you go.

Those things are true if you keep the fear of never eating pleasurable foods again, or if you browbeat yourself over your weight as motivation and lose the motivation after you lose the excuse to beat yourself up… which… I learned how to do in high school and have been gaining weight ever since. Naturally Thin for Life has been the most common sense approach to weight loss I’ve found, and I can wrap my brain around it, and I think it’s enlightening and fun and encouraging.

Bryan’s unaware of how rewarding and encouraging it is because he’s scared to watch with me. He’s watching my progress and asking how it’s going, while also browbeating himself, which is like, the exact opposite of what I was hoping would happen. I was hoping that he would see the opportunity to feel the feelings that result from telling himself that he’s a piece of crap, and maybe challenge his belief that he’s a piece of crap, so that he can serve the people that God created him to serve with his very tender heart … because when he’s in pain, you sure don’t see the tenderized version of him!

Soooooo… again, I realize that this is about budgeting, and husband bashing never helped anyone. I’m sad that he feels this way though, and it’s frustrating to be asked to simply sit back and watch him self-destruct. I’m struggling to make progress in taking care of the house and I’m struggling to focus on aspects of the budget in a way that has results for our family Tuesday and Wednesday he was off work, and I thought I would get housework done. I also had some repairs to do around the house. I slammed my stupid finger in a window on the way to do the repair because the rollscreen window needs repairing too… and had to go for stitches. The urgent care wouldn’t touch it because I ripped off the fingernail and the skin underneath it, so we have a $500 copay for that. The repair turned out to be something I could have troubleshooted in ten minutes if my hubby wasn’t scared to mess up and procrastinating helping nme. I would have been able to do it myself if I didn’t have a movement disorder that backfires by making it hard to do housework after using screwdrivers and crawling in the space under the sink. It was a repair we wouldn’t have had to do if he’d had my input when he installed the reverse osmosis. He did a great job except for this one thing that ended up smashing a pipe. Saved me a ton of work, saved me a ton of energy. But he’s spent so much energy stressing about how inadequate he feels about the job he does. When he spends that much energy stressing, he’s not gracious to the kids- our 10 year old is quite mentally handicapped and struggles to understand instructions and he starts to help her… by scolding her loudlyy…just because he’s frustrated and not as if that’s going to make her better at understanding the instructions, and expects our 2 and 6 year olds to do housework independently simply because he’s yelling at them – whether they have a mental map for completing the task, or not – and I kind of have to help him undig himself out of his crappy mood and … I just don’t know. Sometimes it feels like more than I can handle on my own. He fathers his kids well in some way every day, and does things to connect with the kids daily. He’s just ignorant of how motivating kids works. He takes it personally when they don’t get it, so he gets angry. The 6 year old- who wants to comply with everyone on everything and gets frustrated with his dad’s disapproval- is learning to express his frustration at the tone of voice, and I support him in that, so it’s going to be OK. I hope. Oh, I hope. My husband is generally a calm sea, until he’s feeling inadequate. If I don’t budget, if I don’t complain about getting fast food once or twice or three times a week, if I don’t diet, if I don’t ask to watch something educational together… he doesn’t feel inadequate. It’s a thin line to show him respect while defending them from dad’s judgmental attitude when it would give them a false impression of who they are and what great kids they are. They don’t need more frustration when they’re trying, is how I understand it. Guidance slows down and checks to make sure the person being guided has truly understood.. He doesn’t have experience guiding kids from before having our kids, and feels stupid when I try to explain how it works because I have tons of previous experience doing it wrong as the slightly older child… and that’s how I learned what I was actually aiming for! LOL I’m … not wired to handle that kind of conflict in a kids’ emotional world. I wish I could scoop them up and let him melt down away from them, but then there are days my body just won’t keep up with me any more, so I sit with the kids. While I’m sitting, I’m trying to talk him through the jungle of his internal world. He’s not a total lump-usually he’s grabbing me coffee because all the kids have grabbed my arms and legs, and I can’t move, but it makes me feel like I’m being a lazy bum Maybe honoring my husband means doing things like I’m not wired. if we pay $2000 towards each student loan each year, we’ll generally keep them from accruing interest until they’re forgiven under the income based repayment plan and only have to pay taxes on whatever $30,000 is left after twenty or twenty five years or whatever it is. He says that isn’t how he wants to do things. However, if he wants to pay down debt- and he’s said since before we were married that this was his dream – we need a budget. He looks at the budget, and immediately wilts, and feels poor instead of empowered. I love budgets, they’re a superpower that multiplies small resources. I love a plan that makes our food more simple.

Today he’s on a rant while texting me during his lunch, because I asked why he got out the frozen guacamole I spent twenty to thirty minutes making after driving to a store I don’t usually visit and buying the avocados for 25 cents apiece (fresh Thyme is where I’ve been able to do this, if you’re wondering /wanting to do this) and ate two tablespoons and left the bag on the counter last night to turn to brown mush. Yeah, I should have noticed it while I was doing dishes, but we’re trying to get me emotionally healthy so that I can take care of everyone, so I went for a walk, and then I did some grocery shopping and missed that in the messy kitchen. BUT WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY did he need two tablespoons of guac with his hot dogs and asparagus? I asked him that this morning and he thought I was trying to call him a glutton. I wasn’t. I just really, really, really… don’t get it. I got dollar hot dogs and forty cents of buns, that is a cheap main dish, and then a bunch of asparagus on the side to fill up. That was my $3.50 meal (my target budget per person is 50% higher than my budget coach’s $350 for 10 per month. I budget $300 for groceries for six and two of the six are babes. Compared to my coach, it’s not super frugal, especially since that doesn’t count WIC for the twins.) Technically, we COULD go more frugal, we COULD waste more money, but we’re used to specialized diets that manage carbs and don’t trigger binging because we have weight to manage and a couple of neurological patients- my daughter and I – that we’re trying to provide optimal nutrition for to maximize health. Traditionally I have spent about $100 per person per month, this is 50, so it’s about half, and I’m pleased that it’s going well. I started trying in January. But I find it exhausting to catch sales and that doesn’t get my pricing log done (I’m two months behind… I think I kept up for a week…) and I don’t always know what I want to make once I get stuff home. I wait to shop until the kids are in bed so he’s not overwhelmed, but then I’m tired and stores are closing and my motivation is low. Super low. And then I don’t actually plan how much I want to spend on each item. I kind of wing it. And I’ve started spending past what I meant to spend every week. My biggest goal this year has been not to waste food, because spending money on trash is kind of a … duh…! I am horrible at menu planning. When I menu plan, I kind of tend to get lost in shame about the amount of money I want to spend on food. I wish I knew what internal triggers helped him to see where I need help keeping up with the kitchen if my body shuts down and I suddenly need a nap. I question whether I am being too ambitious. He works hard and the money I’m saving pales in comparison to how much he makes an hour. But we have so many regrets now that we are eleven years into our marriage and our student loans have doubled instead of shrank (big mistake on my part with compound interest and not thinking of capitalization year over year until the last two years, and panicking instead of fixing it when it was $45,000. Now we’ve gone up to $57,000, and brought it down to $53,000… because this year, the government is acting like Santa. So we have extra money in addition to my husband’s great income.

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