Is it Yours, Mine or Ours?
I’ve noticed that since Janet arrived here about eleven months ago we have had many discussions that somehow end up in one place – ownership.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I just leased a new car. Since I always lease every three years instead of buy, at my advanced age I have been through the process many times. In fact I made a big deal to Janet about how this was going to be my last lease, since by the time the lease is up, I will in all likelihood be retired. Actually in all likelihood, I will be soaking up the sun and drinking San Mig Lights on the beach, but that’s another story.
I went through the whole car process, which as anyone who has dealt with new car dealerships knows can be a weird combination of exciting, exasperating, nonsensical – and of course – expensive. Naturally the car is in my name: I’m the one with 30+ years of credit, a salaried job, and a driver’s license. A week or so after I got it we were driving somewhere and she made it clear that, “it’s your car, not mine.”
I purchased the home we live in seven years before Janet ever arrived, I pay the mortgage – so it’s mine, I suppose. She likes the house, takes good care of it, maintains it more than I do. But in the end, it’s in my name, so she says, “it’s your home.”
The same can be said of the stuff, both necessary and frivolous, that is inside the home. I bought it all; in a few cases before Janet was born; so it’s mine.
There’s even the iPad that Janet now uses almost exclusively, but she knows that, “it’s still your iPad.”
The kids are mine of course, unless or until we have one together. It’s my city, my country and my life that she has entered.
Now, I have tried to do my best to use words like, “our home,” or “our dog,” or at least “the dog” – more likely “the damn dog.” I try to purge the words “my” or “mine” out of my vocabulary; but I am sure I slip up. I want Janet to view this as “our” life, but I am sure that sometimes it’s tough for her to do.
Of course, this isn’t because Janet is from the Philippines. Some of it is about age and time on the planet; I’ve just had many more years to accumulate stuff than she has. It’s also about being a spoiled Westerner; most of us just have more cash to accumulate crap than our Filipina partners do.
Speaking of cash, that’s probably the biggest divider between mine, yours and ours. I have a somewhat high paying job, therefore in her mind, “it’s your money.” This part of the issue is starting to fade, as Janet gets a weekly paycheck, and therefore has her own money. Of course she also knows the disparity between what I earn and what she earns is large and she cannot understand it. Truth be told I think of the backbreaking, crappy, minimum wage labor jobs I had in my teens and twenties and wonder why they paid nothing and my current, cushier job pays much more. I suppose that’s a cultural and economics debate that I am unwilling to make. I’m just happy to take advantage of it.
I know that many Western couples, especially blended families, who get re-married in middle-age, sometimes go to extreme limits to make sure that everything is jointly “theirs.” They sell the house(s) and buy a new one together. Get rid of the cars and much of the accumulated crap of a lifetime, and perform a do-over. Maybe they have another kid or two, just to blend up the family a bit more. It’s not my job to judge anyone – but such people are completely mental. Buying or selling a house is one of the most stressful things in life and to do both just so one party can feel comfortable, seems to me to be extreme.
Now, I know that as the years go by, some (maybe most) of these issues between us will fade. At some point Janet and I may get a new home to live in, and she will truly think of it as “ours.” She will get a driver’s license and we will share a car! She will take her paycheck and purchase things that she will genuinely view as hers or ours; although since most of her current purchases are at either “Forever 21” or “H&M” I won’t be claiming joint ownership anytime soon.
I have no grand conclusions here. I suspect that for most couples where there is an age and income disparity or just a plain junk disparity, ownership debates are inevitable.
For some reason I am reminded of a story about Wayne Gretzky. The story may or may not be true but I heard it told by comedian, Denis Leary, years back. Now for those who don’t know anything about hockey, Gretzky was the greatest hockey player who ever lived; there’s not even credible debate about that. He holds every record worth having. He won the Stanley Cup 4 times and was league MVP a boatload of times.
Well the story goes that the comedian was invited to “The Great One’s” home. Gretzky is married to an actress; has been for many years. The comedian was given the nickel tour of the lavish and tasteful home. He could see nothing from Gretzky’s career housed there. Finally he was handed a beer and brought into the garage. Now to quote Denis, “I’ve been to Wayne Gretzky’s house. He’s got five MVP trophies, you know where they are? They’re in the fucking garage!” So there, in the garage, were the five MVP trophies and all the accumulated memorabilia of one of the greatest athletes to ever live!
Now the easiest thing (and accurate too) would be to say that some American women are just a tad controlling. I could rant about feminism too I suppose, though I’m not really anti-feminist. But in this case I will just say, when it comes to your Filipina wife:
Don’t treat your wife like Mrs. Gretzky treats Wayne.