Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Candidate's Wife: We have a fight about Primo running for office and I feel really guilty and mean

When we were in California last month, Primo met his former co-workers for lunch.

And it was made clear that he would be welcome back.

Even though he has not worked as an engineer for three years, which is like three centuries in engineer years.

He could have his old job back at his old pay.

Not to get too personal (talking about money is tacky, I have heard, although I am a big fan of sharing salary information because the more information you have, the more power you have, and I will totally tell anyone who asks what I make), but having a Silicon Valley salary while living in the Midwest is not a bad deal.

I like having money.

I have not had money and I have had some money and I like having money a lot better.

Primo thinks my family was poor. I disagree.

My family was not poor as in the kind of poor where you worry about if you are going to eat today. But we were not the kind not poor as Primo's family - where they went on Away Vacations and ate at restaurants.

Nobody I knew ate at restaurants or went on big Away Vacations. This whole thing of going to Disneyland on spring break? I didn't know anyone as a kid who did that. On spring break, you just didn't go to school.

But my family was the kind of not poor where there was not extra money and where there sure wasn't money to pay for college. Thing is, everyone else I knew was in the same situation. It wasn't until I got to college that I met people whose parents had the money to pay their tuition and were doing so. And had the money to buy cars for their children. And had the money (this was the rich kids) to take their kids to Europe for vacation.

Since I got out of college and have been able, for the most part, to make pretty decent money, I have been not poor. But I have also never gotten to be a spendthrift. I remember what it was like not to have money and I don't want to run out of it. I want to have it in the bank.

Primo's parents paid for his college. (Even though his dad refused to pay for Ted's college, saying that Ted could attend the school where Sly taught for free.) They gave him spending money. He worked during college, but for beer money, not for books.

I don't begrudge that of him. I would like that for everyone.

But - he has a far more casual attitude toward money than I do. In his world, money has always been there. Not in mine.

So we had this fight because I told him that although I want him to win this election - and I do, I hate that he is running and I hate the impact that a campaign has on our lives and I hate that he's not working and earning money BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENS IF WE RUN OUT OF MONEY BEFORE WE DIE?

That's what I worry about.

Even though when I do the numbers, I know that barring disaster (and as long as we maintain a modest level of spending, which is not hard for me because I am really tight with cash), we will be OK.

But - not working when you could be? Not making money when you could be? That seems so irresponsible to me.

He told me I was giving him mixed signals - that I was supporting him and then not supporting him in this campaign.

I told him that I am not supporting his running - that I am putting up with it, which is a totally different thing.

He disagreed and went off into Splitting Hairs Town in Engineer World, where he wanted to debate the meaning of "support" and I said stop being a pedant the point is I am not happy about this but I am not going to divorce you over it.


And then we fought some more and I told him why does he care what I say about his running because he's going to do it whether I like it or not and then he said that he does care what I think and I said If I tell you not to run, would you not run? and then we both got really mad at each other and stomped away.

Then he reminded me that he had inherited (actually, he said, "we" had inherited, which is technically incorrect, as I believe that in divorce cases in most states, inheritances are not considered joint property) a lot of money from Sly and I pointed out that Sly had never intended that to happen and he asked why was that even relevant and I didn't say out loud but thought, "Your dad was a jerk and he did everything he could to disinherit you and I want you to remember what a jerk he was."

But I didn't say that. No matter how much of a jerk Sly was, he was Primo's father and children love their parents almost no matter what and I shouldn't take that away from Primo. It's not like Sly was a molester. He was a total and complete selfish, narcissistic jerk, but he did not molest his own children, which I know is a pretty low bar and I am being kind of nasty. But Sly was Primo's dad and he wants to remember him well because everyone wants parents who love them and treat them well and if inheriting Sly's IRA, despite Sly's very clear wishes in his will, takes some of the sting out of Sly's being such a jerk, then I should not take that away from Primo.

See what I mean about feeling guilty and mean? I am being mean and I need to knock it off.

Man, I'm cranky. I hate politics. I hate campaigns. I don't even like togetherness, so when I say one of the drawbacks of a campaign is that I never see Primo, you know it has to be pretty bad.

Other drawbacks are things like he thinks we should cancel our vacation, which I refuse to let happen, so then he spends the entire vacation working on the campaign, which makes it not a vacation as far as I am concerned.

I feel guilty for being mean. I need to stop being mean.


  1. OK - so I guess I missed the part where Sly dies and you go through the whole fight bout the estate...is there someplace I can see this?

    1. I am a regular reader and I missed that, too! Rather, not the distribution, I remember that Primo was the executor even though he was not named in the will, and he was made the trustee for Ted's son's inheritance, even though Sly should have just named a lawyer because he couldn't have come up with a better way to sow discord and strife.

    2. Hi lewmew - start at this link: http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2015/08/in-which-wait-for-it-there-is-more-sly.html

  2. There's a reason why money is the #1 cause of marital discord, and you just explained it perfectly. There's no way to get Primo to see money like you do (even if it's the right way) or vice versa. It's hard for me to imagine your patience with his not working for three years, even with the IRA to sweeten the deal. Since he worked from home, it seems like good time management - or maybe cutting back to 3/4 time - would let him do both: work as an engineer and run for office.... you know that "citizen legislator" thing the forefathers planned on leaving for us.

    Good luck. It appears that you all do a pretty good job of working it out - occational fights aside.

  3. Yeah. We weren't poor like we didn't eat (although when my parents first got married, they were indeed that poor), but vacations for us were camping or maybe a trip to Dallas. We didn't have cable or anything. And spring break definitely just meant you stayed home alone all week.

    Not that any of that's a hardship, and I don't feel deprived of anything (camping was fun!) - my point is simply that what many people took for granted, I didn't have growing up. Neither did my husband. The perspective of someone who did have those things is often very different. I worry about our kids sometimes (they are growing up with advantages we didn't have...although we live well within our income, so those advantages are mostly things like being able to go to private school (oldest has special needs not served by the public school), which aren't that visible to them. In terms of stuff, honestly, toy-wise, they get more mileage out of animal figures and hot wheels than any of the fancy expensive stuff anyway. I can't stop grandparents and great-aunts buying the expensive crap though).

  4. That's a great way to describe it, Goldie! I often have trouble describing the poor lower-middle class upbringing we had, where I think my parents really were worried about spending an extra few cents on brand names or running the heat or AC (when we finally got it) for a few more dollars a month. We also ate at restaurants once or twice a year for very special occasions, went camping for vacations, and I worked during college to help pay for textbooks and for my own spending money. It's so weird when I think about it to realize that Ms. Cosmic and the minion and I now eat out (or, more usually, get takeout) 2-3 nights a week, but I've gotten inured to it, and I remind myself that we're still saving a ton of money for retirement.

    In fact, I often think "gee, if we both quit our jobs right now, we could get by on ramen and macaroni salad and Netflix and still have money left over to travel!", but that's not the kind of retirement we want, so we'll keep working for another 10-15 years.

    1. Yeah, in the economic class I am in now, nobody thinks twice about going out to eat. But even now, it is like pulling teeth to get my mom to a restaurant (with us paying!).

  5. Power of the Past by Jessi Streib is an interesting booko examining marriages of people raised in different "classes". My parents struggled when I was very young but were more affluent by my teenage years. My husband's parents struggled longer but are affluent now. But there remain certain differences in how we approach things NOW that are based in how we were raised, and it's been helpful to me to read about how others have approached....Of course, Primo has that whole adult child of alcoholics thing too, which is certainly a confounding variable....

  6. There's a marital therapist Bill Harley who posits that Financial Support is a key emotional need for some people. They will endure necessary hard times for a partner but they balk at non emergencies. As I understand it, it's not about how *much* money, more about willingness and generosity. Interesting how you pointed out that the inheritance doesn't meet those conditions.

    FWIW, if you did have a FS need then Primo's old job wouldn't meet your FS need anyway. Didn't he hate it? Harley says the need meeter has to love whatever work he/she does or the person with the need senses the situation is too precarious/unhappy for them to feel fulfilled anyhow. They feel it's temporary and go into 'squirreling money' mode.