Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who Are You? And What Have You Done With My Husband?

My husband and I go about decision making in two separate and distinct ways.  With big decisions, I (and I’m not saying this is right or wrong here, it just is)…I tend to go with my gut, trusting God to work out the details.  You might think this is contrary to my habitual penny-pinching and you would be right.  With the little decisions, like how to spend pennies, I am very careful (this might have something to do with how high I can count).  But with big stuff, if I really think I’m doing the right thing, obstacles are insignificant.  

My husband, on the other hand, has no problem frivolously squandering our pennies on things like Chick-Fil-A vanilla milkshakes (admittedly tasty, but hardly worth the price).  However with big decisions, he gets out a calculator, makes a spreadsheet with all our income/expenses, pros/cons and our 1, 5, and 10 year projected financial/familial outlook in varying economic climates and then, after much box checking and Excell-cell filling, he makes a decision. 

This works out well because ONE of us is always worried.  I worry about expenses under $500 and he worries about expenses over $500. Using this system, we’ve been more or less happily married for over twenty years. 

The first time I talked to my husband about adopting, we already had three small children.  My kids were born eighteen months apart.  My oldest was just over three years old, my middle child was 21 months and our daughter was three months old.  One of our friends sent me an e-mail about a boy in an orphanage in Costa Rica who desperately wanted to be adopted.  When I saw the e-mail, I thought to myself, “surely we can find a home for this boy.”   We knew plenty of childless couples.  It never occurred to me that any of them would say, “No.”  But, all of them did.  A few weeks later, I took a print out of the e-mail to my husband and after he read it, I listed all the couples I had approached about adopting him, finishing with, “Um...so, I think we should get him.”   Bill got out his calculator and made up some spreadsheets while I started on the I600A.

It was many months later, when we woke our children (then aged 4 ½, 3 and 18 months) at 4am one morning and hauled three car seats, five suitcases and 10 hours of snack food into an airplane bound for Costa Rica, that I started wondering if I had really thought this through.  No matter.  We came back with all our children, all our limbs and a charming ten year old Costa Rican boy to boot. 

A few years later, through an act of God, we got some extra cash.  When the money hit our checking account, I believe my husband actually glowed.  His eyes glazed over and he sat down with me at the kitchen table, settled in front of his computer and opened the spreadsheets. Then he talked about paying down the mortgage, or getting a boat, or an old convertible to fix up with the boys, or a motorcycle etc.  I let him go on for a while, and then (since the spreadsheets were already made) I told him that I really wanted to use the money to adopt a special needs child from China.    ....WHAM!   He sat there for a minute in stunned silence, then he looked up at the ceiling and let out a teeny, tiny whimper, then he was quiet again and messed with his hair a little bit and then he finally looked over at me and said, “All right.”  And that was that.   Isn’t he wonderful?  I went to a web page of special needs children up for adoption and found a beautiful girl named #$#%@#%. A year later she was ours.    

I’ve already written about asking him to get Ruslan and Will (see post from 12/1/2011).   Things seemed to be getting a little harder each time, but we were still consistent in our roles with me coming up with the idea and Bill, after careful consideration and some resistance, finally agreeing. 

We now have seven children under our belts and six under our roof.  The system is working fine, but unfortunately, something has happened to my husband and this time, he is NOT playing by the rules.  I started planting the adoption seeds sometime in November.  According to our most recent schedule, I thought it was going to take him several months to come around to the idea, with us finally deciding sometime in April.  But it didn’t happen that way.  He started asking me about finding more kids within the same week.  He actually seemed enthusiastic about the whole thing.  He asked me off and on all through November, December and into January even though during all that time, he had not made a single spreadsheet.

To make matters worse,  the first week in January, he looked up from his computers one day and said, “Are you free tomorrow morning?  I thought we could go to Ford and put some money down on a new van.”
“Ok,”  I said, and with entirely justified hesitation.  Then I added, “Have you made a spreadsheet?” 
 And, this is what he said to me, he said, “No.  But it doesn’t matter.  We can’t fit eight kids in our car, so we have to get a van.  Besides, I’d rather get a new car now, before the one we have breaks down.”
So, I said, “yes, but what about the spreadsheet?”  But, I think we were done communicating by then, because I can’t remember what he said after that.

The next day, we were in a small cubicle at the Ford motor company politely debating.  You see, once we sat down, Bill actually asked for prices on a 15 passenger van.  So, despite the smiling man in the blue starched shirt with the FORD name tag sitting across from us,  I said to Bill, “Precious Husband, I really think a twelve passenger van will have plenty of room.”   But he said to me, “Oh No, Dearly Beloved Wife, while I have great respect for your opinion and it always, only brings me joy to see you happy, I must tell you that I think we should get the 15 passenger van.”   So, I made sure that we had good eye contact and I said again with considerable force, “Dear Husband, we only need eight seats right now and even if we get two more children, we’ll only need ten.  So, the twelve passenger van should be Plenty Big Enough.”  He actually responded by smiling at me and said, “Trust me, we’ll be able to fill it.  I think we are going to need the room.”   So I sat there for a minute in stunned silence, then looked up at the ceiling and let out a teeny tiny whimper, then I was quiet again and messed with my hair a little bit, and then I finally looked over at him and said, “All right.”

I asked him on the way home about how many kids he wanted to adopt and he said to me, “I don’t know.”  So then I said, “I really think after these two girls, we’ll probably be done.  Right?”  But he smiled again, which was starting to get annoying, and said, “Maybe,” which caused me to feel somewhat worried.  So, then, just to change the subject, I asked whether he had made any spreadsheets lately, but he still hadn’t made one.  He actually said to me, “I’m tired of worrying about it.  God will provide.  He’s always provided for us before.  Why would this time be any different?” 

This was obviously way too much for any woman to endure.  I quickly glanced around the car to ensure that the smiling Ford man wasn't still with us and then said to him, “Look here Old Man, this is totally wrong.  ONE of us HAS to worry!  It is YOUR JOB to worry about our large purchases.  If you don’t get on that computer and make yourself a spreadsheet today, then I am going to be compelled to try and we both know how THAT is going to turn out!!”  This did not seem to trouble him one bit.  According to him, spreadsheets can be deleted with little or no traces of their existence left on one’s computer.

This was back in January.  In the meantime, we signed a contract with Great Wall Adoptions to get two more girls from China.  We can’t post photos yet, but I will as soon as we are allowed.  Bill did finally sit down with me one evening and we made up a spreadsheet.  However, this was at MY request.  So, the results were obviously going to be jinxed.  With a new van and two adoptions coming up this year, the little cell on the bottom left kept coming up red.  Bill is not bothered by this.  I’m not bothered by this either, of course, but I am bothered by him.  After all, it’s not my job to worry about these things.  It’s HIS job. 

The van arrived last week.  It is light blue, 15 passengers, complete with the clunky sliding door and extra large side mirrors.  We named her Roseanne.  There was some debate about whether she would fit into our garage.  The van is 20 feet, the garage is 21 feet.   We were all wondering whether the garage door would close without incident, but everything was fine….until yesterday.  Bill drove the van to Ford to get some work done and on the way into the garage, he scraped it along the roof.  It seems that, rather than worrying about length, we should have been worrying about height. Without six kids and/or about a half tank of gas in the thing, it is too high to fit in the garage.  There are now two scratches along the top, both about ten inches long, that we are going to have to take care of somehow.

Apparently, this is how things are going to be around here for a while, because Bill, who is usually a total and complete car-neat freak, does not seem concerned about this either.  He just bought some sort of touch-up kit and actually plans to paint over the scratches himself.  Nor does he see the cause-effect pattern inherent in this most recent event.  However, I am sure the car would not be scratched if he had simply kept to our unwritten marital agreement and made the spreadsheets before we purchased it.