My husband and I are vastly different creatures in pretty much everything. One wonders how we have stayed married for almost 20 years. But when I try to capture the essence of what makes us so different, I realise we aren’t different at all really – I mean we are, but we’re different in all the same ways.
Take the two areas where our differences are starkest – food and money, and our attitudes to their creation.
In matters of money, my husband is very hands-on, he pours it out of various debt funds and into equity markets, he mixes and measures and blends from index bonds to mutual funds and what not in a constant attempt to somehow become a trillionaire.
In the kitchen, however, he is hardly as active. He buys groceries – well, sometimes – dumps them on the counter and expects them to cook themselves up into miraculous little delectable concoctions. Not unlike my relationship with money.
Related reading: How to be financially independent as a married woman
It’s the final result that matters
My philosophy about banking is simple. I work and I earn money and dump it in the bank in Savings accounts and Fixed Deposits. If it can buy stuff, it can take care of itself, I reason; it can go forth and multiply and all that, and doesn’t need to be petted and mollycoddled.
But while he has no interest in the production of the food, my husband is inordinately interested in its culmination and enjoys an elaborate meal enormously, frequently reminding me of Oscar Wilde’s famous quote – ‘I can resist everything except temptation’.
My day is punctuated regularly with those three magic words, “What’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner?”
My day is punctuated regularly with those three magic words, “What’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner?” He dreams and drools over potential culinary extravaganzas but will not lift as much as a teaspoon. He cannot understand why I need his involvement in the kitchen – after all, I do have a cook and maid to help me!
When it comes to finance, I have no interest either in fiddling with funds and bonds, but I am rather excited by the prospect of having a few extra millions to splurge on, say, a European getaway. My finest moment is when he tries to exhort me into playing a more active role in ‘diversifying my portfolio’. Ah, I respond and pause dramatically, to allow the fullness of the poetic justice to seep in. Well, we have an auditor, an accountant, and a Relationship Manager with each bank – what’s your point, and more importantly, where are our mansion and our flight tickets?
Your current balance is…
We have twin joint salary accounts in the same bank with a weird sort of entangled communication strategy that can only be described as the Couple’s Morbidly Excessive Communication Plan Doomed to End in Divorce. When I make a withdrawal from my own account, he gets a message informing him of the transaction. Likewise, when he makes an Internet transfer from his account, I get an email informing me of the event. I’m still not entirely sure why the bank folks think this is such a good idea, but since it is the case, I can’t understand why the same communication strategy can’t work with his snacking habits too.
He returns from the snack bar at our apartment with onions on his breath and crumbs on his collar and feigns complete gastronomic innocence. “When he buys samosas and ice cream from you, I want you to let me know,” I have thundered to the couple who owns the store, a request that they smile at sheepishly but refuse to honour.
But after a couple of decades, communication strategy or not, one just knows. A combination of excellent guesses and strong interrogation strategies and I know when he has a chocolate in his belly just like he knows – even without the kindly SMSes – when I have a few crisp notes in my wallet.
And it occurs to me – we aren’t half as different as I think we are, just similar in different ways. Or is it different in similar ways?
Sometimes the differences are in our cultural upbringing. To discover how the cultural differences between you and your partner are affecting you, please take this survey.