Tuesday, January 13, 2009

We don't fight about money.

My job has many challenges.... filling my own day with activity, staying connected to other adults, not losing who I am as I get wrapped up in daily kid/husband/household activity... but one of the least challenging is money. How many marriages collapse because of cash flow? I don't know, I'm not a numbers gal-- a lot. Top of any list of Things to Fight about as a couple. How to make it, how to spend it... heck even having a lot of money causes fights. Ever hear those stories about marriages collapsing after a lottery winning? Brian and I actually don't fight a lot about money. Here is why ( and I'm warning you, a lot of people are not going to like the answer): he is the deciding answer to any money questions. ( warned you)

I'm not saying I don't know anything about money-- I do ( although, like I just said, I'm not a numbers gal.). I know how much we have, where it goes, the actual cost of things, and which sock drawer we have it saved in. My name is on every account we have, on all the kids accounts and I can tell you how much we have saved for retirement. Phfft.. like it's hard. Even the 4 yr old can count zero dollars. But we realized early in our relationship that he was a saver and I was a spender. He gave great thought, and then major regret into every purchase. The only thought and regret I gave was color and did it make my ass look fat? I KNEW I was bad at with or to money. Even my mother suggested that he balance the checkbook. I gave up control. I did not give up an opinion. I gave him my trust... ha! not that kind of trust- that would have been long gone. I'm talking emotion. The thing we are supposed to do when we get married. He took over the money. I took over the cooking and homemaking. Why shouldn't married people do what they do best to enrich their lives? Isn't that what it's all about? Not ME ME ME.. but US US US?

So almost 18 years later this is how we " fight" about money:
Me : " Honey, we need a new camera."
Him " why?"
Me: " Because the one we have takes blurry pictures since you dropped it last year."
Him: Heavy sigh" How much is this going to cost me?"
Me: " us."
Him: How much is this going to cost US ( me)"
Me: " How much is remembering your kids childhoods worth?".. pause.. " $300 " ( I always highball)
Him:" let me get the spreadsheets.."
Me: Heavy sigh.
Him : Heavy sigh.

The man tracks every penny that comes into the house. He know exactly how much we spent on diapers in 1998. He has records to show how much we spent on eating out in 2000. he can tell you how much more tampons cost us now vs 10 years ago. He spends hours a month going over every receipt that I have marked up with code that shows him if an expenditure was clothes for Bekah, underwear for Luke or cleaning products for the basement. It is very impressive if you like that kinda thing. Which I don't. I come down with a case of glassy-eyed numbness everytime he brings them up, balances them-- whatever it is he does to them.

( after much paper shuffling, groaning, mumbled conversations skyward, and calculator jabbing)
Him: " We can't afford it this month. Check the fliers and come back to me after our next paycheck."

Now, this is the part where a more argumentative woman would start a fight about the immediate necessity of a new camera. Not me. I know it is futile. I know that it is on his radar now. I know that in a couple of months and some really lousy pictures later he will find the money and we will get a new camera. No fights, no long drawn out He said/ She saids, no I have to win this at all costs. We just can't afford it. I believe him. I trust him. And if he doesn't find the money I'll just get it out of my secret stash, buy a new camera and when he asks where it came from, tell him "Your mother."

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