ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

EMBRACING OUR DIFFERENCES

Everybody is talking about the money thing these days.

And with good reason.  There’s all kinds of crazy stuff going on.  Like . . . you know . . . that really big company that went bankrupt or something.  And that other big company that . . . sort of . . . you know . . . bought out another big company.  And then there’s Fannie Mae, who is not one of the “Beverly Hillbillies” but who evidently has more to do with someone named Freddie Mac than she does with Jethro Bodine.  And then there’s Hurricane Ike, which . . . well, I’m not exactly sure what Hurricane Ike has to do with the whole money discussion, but it was devastating and I’m sure it did . . . you know . . . devastating stuff.

Economically as well as meteorologically.

OK, so I’m faking it here.  The minute you start talking numbers and dollar signs, my eyes glaze over and I mentally retreat to my happy place.  I won’t say exactly where my happy place is, but whenever I go there I end up humming “It’s a Small World” the rest of the day.

And I’ve been humming “It’s a Small World” a LOT recently.

That’s why I’m assuming there’s heavy-duty financial stuff going on in the world, which probably explains why I paid more for a gallon of gasoline yesterday than I used to pay to fill up my Volkswagen back in the day.

Or maybe it doesn’t explain it.  Like I said, I’m not fluent in Econese.

Thankfully, I don’t have to be.  Years ago I met someone who is really savvy with regards to money and numbers and stuff like that, and I married her.  Anita tells me everything I need to know about money, which generally is, “Don’t spend it.”  Or if I do, “Make sure to give me the receipt.”  She’s keeping up with all this recent money stuff.  It actually seems to interest her.  She even knows how to pronounce and spell Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s last name.

The other day she tried to explain the whole Fannie/Freddie/Bernanke scenario to me.  According to observers, I went from mildly interested to full glaze-over so fast that Usain Bolt is calling and asking for tips.  Thankfully, Anita has learned to recognize the glaze, and to accept it as part of the package she got when she married me.

For better or for worse.

For richer, for poorer.

Til debt do we part.

I’ve been thinking about this today because . . . well, everyone is talking about the money thing – whatever it may actually be.  And also because I heard about a young friend, barely a newlywed, whose marriage is struggling over the money thing.  And the communication thing.  And especially the difference thing.  All those frighteningly, maddeningly wonderful “things” that make marriage so challenging – and so sweet.

Anyone who has been married for any length of time can appreciate the difficulty of bringing together two very different lives, and from them making one shared life.  As a result, we probably all have our own thoughts and ideas about what it takes to build and maintain a successful marriage.  Heaven knows I do.  But somewhere on every list of marriage tips and recommendations should be this foundational truth: the things that we have in common are what bring us together, but our ability to embrace and find joy in our differences is what keeps us together.

Even with the money thing.

Maybe ESPECIALLY with the money thing.

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— © Joseph Walker

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