My wife is a “Go big, or don’t do it at all” kind of person.
We once had a Valentine’s Day themed Pampered Chef party which included tables in our living room set with tablecloths, centerpieces, and a full dinner. While we were planning the party, we had several disagreements regarding how elaborate it should be. It even became a joke of sorts between us as every time we disagreed, she would utter the phrase, “Don’t you see my vision?” We had a huge turnout, and earned a ton of product credit from the sales. Taking into account the cost associated with hosting the event, we barely broke even.
With this kind of history in mind, you may appreciate why I was a little concerned when she offered to host her family’s Christmas gathering this year.
It’s been a number of years since we’ve hosted, so it’s appropriate that we take our turn. I fear, however, that Vonnie will create Clark Griswold like expectations for the event, and we’ll end up spending a small fortune making it unnecessarily elaborate.
My concerns were almost immediately confirmed when I found her sitting in front of the computer doing internet searches. She swiveled around in the office chair and stated, “I really want to make this special. I have some ideas, but I don’t know if you will like them.”
We took turns having her describe an idea, and me explaining why it was completely unnecessary. It didn’t take very long for my wife to begin to become agitated and defensive. The fact of the matter was, we had very different opinions on what hosting the Christmas event should entail.
I did not see her vision.
Watching her eyes get bigger and her hands become more animated with each negative reaction to one of her ideas, it occurred to me that I was having one of those jackass husband moments. One of the reasons I believe our marriage has been so successful is that I am able to recognize these moments, and quickly change course. I decided that this was one of those times that a course correction was necessary.
I remembered a technique our home builder recommended to help us decide what options to include in our home while keeping within the available funds. I quickly adapted it to the situation and suggested we do the following:
- Determine the amount of money to spend
- Make a “blue sky” wish list for the event containing every possible idea.
- Approximate the price of each item on the list.
- Discuss the feasibility and need of each item, and whether they should stay or go.
- Draw the “cut line” on the list to show which items make the cut. This may result in some changes in opinion of some of the items.
- Re-evaluate each item on the list, rewriting the list with new order of priority if necessary.
- Let the list rest for a few days.
- Repeat steps 4 – 8 until both of us are satisfied.
The most difficult item is #1. There’s certainly an upper limit on how much our budget will allow, but we may have different ideas regarding how much we should spend on the event.
Before we start that discussion, I need to remind myself:
- This is important to her and she wants it to be memorable and special
- Compromise is key
Similarly, I will gently remind her that:
- We don’t need to completely crazy to make this event memorable and special
- Compromise is key
Keeping these points in mind, I’m sure that we can agree upon an amount. After that, it becomes mainly a numbers game. Several rounds of discussion will likely be needed to determine which items on the list will add the most to the event, and how many of them fit in the agreed upon cost maximum. I can then become the Super Hero Husband by getting creative and helping her fit as many of the items on the list as possible under the cap.
From Jackass to Super Hero – that’s my goal.
Wish me luck, we’re scheduled to talk about this again tonight.