Money. It brings out the beast in all of us.
Introduce the topic of money to my spouse and he will pull out the plastic milk crate he's proudly saved from college, climb atop, and dramatically wave both hands, detailing the fine points of the importance of saving versus spending.
It's not too shocking to find out that one of the top causes of divorce is not infidelity, nor a particular vice, but MONEY. Money, financial values, views on how it is be kept -- or not. That's the soft spot, maybe not so sweet, that drives most couples deciding shall I stay or shall I go now.
Bank, Big Ones, Clams, Coin. There are more slang terms for money than there are for sex. Why? Because it is behind everything we do. Unlike sex, which it's said people think of only every 9.7 seconds, money occupies the mind every second.
My husband's fantasies have never been of the St. Pauli girl. No, he dreams of Benjamins, seductively reclining in a bank vault somewhere, the crisp weight of their firmness never leaving his hands, and oh how he wishes he could keep every single one of those babies loyal to only him.
This is where our values differ. No one, especially me, wants the big D over money and the acquisition of worth nor do I want a household that fights and clashes over spending our conjoined funds. But does this mean we need to walk around in frayed-hem rummage sale pants that end above the ankle with knees worn out? No, but I also know it doesn't mean we need to be the ones whose cast-offs are something Angelina awaits.
All this money talk always leads to the one word that makes me gasp. When my spouse's eyes bore into mine, my heart races and I bite my lip while he holds my gaze steady because I know what's coming. Love is in the air for him as he speaks the one word that juices him up, but makes me run for the door. Budget.
Such a dirty word. Say it to me and I can't help but imagine handcuffs, dark dungeon-like existences, rigid confines -- and 50 shades of it.
The family budget. Might as well tie me up and bind my wrists. But not so with the one I married -- the melody of this word plays off his lips and makes his fiscal muscle clench in a most delicious fashion.
And therein lies the hurt so good to him, and me. The lusted object of family peace is what lights my fire, it's also the price to pay for the firm hand of can't have it. I can't have it. How this plays against how much I do want it. To say no to the easy fun, I must say yes to the harmony-buying constraints.
But, what do I know? I've driven my spouse to talk in his sleep in Ben Franklin adages, "Small holes sink big ships," "Never spend today what you can save for tomorrow."
Ka-ching ka-ching may be my husband's bowchickawowwow. Me? I can't give up my soundtrack of the ages, "Lalalalalala I can't hear you" complete with fingers in my ears.
And even though my conscious needs me to swallow this "budget" word and like it, my inner goddess purses her lips and mouths the word no. But I'm intent on keeping my marriage intact, so this Valentine's Day I'll consider how this saving money thing may be something best enjoyed together, rather than alone. So when he leans in this Valentine's weekend and whispers in my ear "Let's talk about the budget," I'll be ready.
"I was hoping you'd ask," I'll close my eyes and murmur back, "that's why I've got big plans for us tonight." And with that, I'll set out two pairs of scissors in front of us, along with this week's coupon clipper section.