Tuesday, August 30, 2005
I always paid the bills in my house. Managed the money, made the budget. I'm obsessive-compulsive, so this is a great job for me. About a year ago, I read a book called "The Surrendered Wife" (which basically describes how to become one). I'm not knocking it. It was a good book, and I agree with the whole premise. It's very Jewish, actually. The whole idea is to build up your husband, encourage his masculinity. This is basically achieved by letting him be the boss. I agree with that. Shlomo HaMelech said, "Treat your husband as king, and he will make you his queen." So I read this book, and one of the main things to surrender is the money. Let him pay the bills, let him make the budget. Every week the husband is supposed to give his wife a weekly stipend for everything. Groceries, household stuff, diapers, whatever. So I relinquished my job. "Yaakov," I announced one day, "I can't handle being the secretary anymore. I've got too much on my head with the kids and the housework." "OK," he shrugged, and that was it. It was all downhill from there. He never gave me a stipend. Each week I would say, "what's my budget for the week?" and he'd say, "32 cents." Sometimes he'd say 39 cents, and then tell me "See? I increased your budget by 7 cents!" So he basically told me nothing, and I'd be out grocery shopping with no idea how much we had. Bills were getting paid late. Yaakov would say, "watch what you spend, there's a check we wrote to Schnorrers Inc. that might get cashed." Then I'd screech, "What?!! We shouldn't have to worry about a check being cashed! Once you write a check, that money is gone! You shouldn't consider it still there to use." On and on this would go, month after month. We also have a different opinion about paying bills. Yaakov would rather pay a bill late (and have more grocery money in the budget), and I'd rather pay it on time. We'd get nailed with the late charge anyway, so what's the point, right? Differing attitudes about money became a MAJOR source of contention in the Maven household. Until 2 months ago. Because that's when I took my job back, baby. I was tired of not knowing what I could spend, tired of bills being paid late, tired of the finances being "all over the place." So I told him (none too nicely) that I was in charge of the finances again. I got online, balanced our checking account, scheduled bill payments, and whipped us into shape. Last Sunday Yaakov said to me, "You know, it's good to have my secretary back." You see? He's still the boss. Along with Bruce Springsteen.