Saturday, June 11, 2011

Two Different Worlds

My husband and I couldn't have come from more different worlds.  There is an old saying that warns never to marry outside of your class.   For most of my childhood, we grew up struggling to make ends meet.  My parents, though incredibly hardworking and loving,  lived a feast or famine lifestyle. (More often famine in the beginning). Our tiny rental house had what my mother referred to as the 12 plagues ranging from sulfur water & termites to snake infestations and having to stay away from the kitchen during lightning storms because the house wasn't grounded properly and you could get electrocuted. (Cozy-right?)   We ate a lot of what my father caught fishing or what grew on the citrus trees in the backyard. Still, we never went hungry so we felt blessed and grateful for what God and the river provided.
My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a 7,000 square foot house in a gated community. His neighbors were the wealthiest plastic surgeons, CEOs, and inventors of things like the barcode. His father made sure they had nothing but the best.
I rode around in a dilapidated pickup truck with a door that swung open when you went around the corner, Mike rode around in his family's Rolls Royce. I went to brownie meetings, Mike traveled to Europe and had private tennis lessons with retired professional players. You get the picture...
It just so happened that Mike's life of luxury collided with mine when I was 16 years old.  My father was a graphic artist and had designed a sign for Mike's parent's office on the beach.  Somehow they hit it off and my family was invited to dinner.  It's funny now, but I remember thinking how spoiled Mike was when I first met him.  Not only did he have an entire arcade game room and talking $6,000 robot but he was in college and working on this third degree.  I was still in high school and knew all too well that the only hope I had to go to school and earn my teaching degree was if I busted my tail in high school and got enough scholarships to cover what my job wouldn't. He bragged too much for my taste and was "old" (6 years my senior).  Needless to say, I wasn't interested in him.
It wasn't until 5 years later that we reconnected.  We dated a bit but I was just finishing up my degree and then the hurricanes destroyed both our homes and things got pretty complicated for a while. We reconnected again in 2007 when Mike ended up finishing graduate school and got a long-term substitute teacher position in my mom's ESE classroom.  This time everything clicked.  He had gotten more focused and serious and was ready to settle down and start a family. The 6-year difference didn't seem so large now. We had our love of education and teaching, enjoyed cooking and travel, and shared common values of faith and family.  The following January we were married.
I'd like to say it was all roses and cherries from the beginning but with every relationship, there was an adjustment period-allot of it money related.  We took managing your money in marriage course with our church and read multiple books like 365 Ways to Live Cheap. I showed Mike the magic of finding things cheaper.  When we were engaged Mike had laughed because I spent 4 months trying to find a TomTom GPS system for our honeymoon on eBay for the "right" price. He said it couldn't be done and we should just pay the full price now. When he saw I was able to save us $150 and got it to arrive 4 days before we needed it he started to feel the joy too. Spend less=more money in your wallet.  Living within our means was a concept I was well adjusted to but one that took Mike a while to catch on to.  But I can happily say that he is every bit of a bargain buster as I am now. Just last month he happily paid $7 at Goodwill for a perfect condition Croton watch with a crystal face that retails for $300. (SIGH! SO VERY PROUD) That's my reformed hubby :) It really helps to have him by my side as he knows all the expensive name brands from experience and can recognize them before I can even figure out how to pronounce them.
The thrill of the hunt for a good deal is one we share together and will greatly aid us in the year to come living on a single income. So to all those that say don't marry outside your class, I say if you are both committed and willing to compromise and put in the work-just about any relationship can make it. Partners in all things, best friends, and married to boot. He even does diapers ladies :) Now who could ask for anything more!

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