I’m certain that the old man and I can’t be the only middle-aged couple in the universe to argue about money.
The question of what to spend your money on can put pressure on the strongest relationships at this stage of your life, when you have no idea how long you’re budgeting for, when you have different ideas of how to make the most of your time left.
I’m the impulsive romanticist, the princess in the Disney film, who due to some dodgy family genes has always been convinced of a short innings, so I want to make the most of each day and therefore am happy to spend our money somewhat irrationally.
Buying shit makes me feel better when I’m down, I enjoy the fulfilment from being generous, I love eating in good restaurants and going away.
I don’t even mind having to work a few extra years for nice wine and good shoes.
The old man, on the other hand, has calculated to the cent how much money we will need for the rest of our lives, should we exceed all expectation and live beyond the oldest existing pensioner in China; and tries to budget accordingly. He slams the brakes on impulsivity and locks the wallet wherever he can to support his dream of retiring as early as possible, because he no longer has the stomach to be someone else’s bitch. Except mine, obviously. He is happy to go without, if it means he can spend the rest of his life in the simple contentment and comfort of watching golf videos all day long.
One of the biggest frustrations and realities of the long-term relationship is that you have to meet each other halfway on grown-up issues.
Due to certain, blown out of proportion, past disagreements over my desire/need/sickness (his words) to shop, the old man has recently set me a monthly budget to curb my self-medication/extravagance, yet still has the gall to tut disparagingly if I dare mention I’m going to the shops.
And it irks me, because he simply doesn’t get it. We are different genders with different personalities and our happiness is triggered by opposing stimuli.
The old man has worn the same combo of polo shirt and boating shoes for the past three decades – he is no David Beckham – so in my opinion, he has no authority to discuss the dictates of fashion with me. You know when you’ve had a really exhausting, shite day at work and you just want to be a lazy bitch and suggest dinner out? Well, in our household, if the night doesn’t fall within the weekly allowance of one take-away and one dinner, the old man looks at me in complete disbelief, like some disappointed parent with their spoiled brat.
Very soon I expect to be banished to the naughty step.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping me from taking a stand, AND I HAVE, I can assure you. We are equals and we both earn money, however I also know that dependent on my mood I can be quite appallingly irresponsible with money and also quite like the idea of early retirement, so I’m in the painful process of slow acceptance. I haven’t forgotten that when I came into our relationship I bought with me some extra baggage of a huge Mastercard bill, nor am I likely to forget it when the old man still reminds me about in every conversation we have about money.
His heart in the right place – sort of – put it this way, we don’t go without, and what I see as him being parsimonious is really about money management; we simply exist at opposite ends of the budgeting spectrum.
So my old argument that we might get run over by a bus tomorrow falls on deaf ears these days; apparently, we need to save for our future, not handbags.
Anyone else identify with this little relationship problem?