One to save. To make and set back. The other to gather and apportion for the household. We have balance, my husband and I. Sometimes that balance can be a struggle between us, but we have the same end at heart, so it's a good struggle, like how you might struggle together to lift something heavy. Aaron is always the one wanting to save, to spend less. He says "I have to squirrel things away, for us. Little nuts for lean winter".
With money he is whip smart. It's no credit to me that for years, while we were bootstrapping on 20K a year to start a business, we still managed to get out of all debt, including a mortgage. We still managed to pay for a wedding, to travel some. That's Aaron's doing, entirely. Aaron's and my Father God, who provided and honored Aaron's faithfulness. If I earn any credit it's only that I listened to him, when he proposed wise measures. Sometimes I fought him at first. But generally, I listened. I'm so glad I did.
He also relies on me, to spend where needed. To provide for our household. I'm the one who makes sure it runs well. Sometimes that's obvious expenses, like food and oil changes, doctor visits and toiletries. And sometimes it's things that I have to make a case for. Things that I believe make our home function better, or that I believe make it a more nourishing place to be. When we need new linens for the bed. When I find a great deal on a leather chair at Goodwill ($30!)
Or items around the holidays - things to make our home as festive and warm as it can be. For these, I go to him and I make the case. And he listens. More often than not, I'll find that he's gotten it for me, before I can even do it. Once in a while he'll say "I just don't think this is the best time". He is wiser than I am, about our big picture, so I try to listen. Not that I'm not informed and participatory in our financial situation. But that's not my area of strength. It's his. So I'm willing to be accountable to him in that area, because it's better for our family. It's been better for me.
One area, though, where I've sometimes put the proverbial cart before the horse....is with plants.
Oh, how desperately I love plants in the Spring.
Herbs and flowers, especially. I'm not always the best with them, either, because of time and because we haven't had much room for such endeavors. Although, every year I do a potted arrangement by our front door, that I take good care of, and which lasts sometimes even into December.
These things are sometimes harder for my husband, who faithfully works to save for the bigger things, to keep in mind what we need to set back and upcoming expenses which are inevitable....why things like flowers at the front door are really necessary for our home.
And I suppose they aren't. But year after year, I make the case that there is something about being greeted at my front door by the lovely, upturned faces of my potted friends, which is nourishing. Maybe not vital to survival, but which contribute to joy, to a sense of life and growth.
Every year, he gives me a long-suffering smile. He tells me they're beautiful, although I know he doesn't need them, and would probably feel just as much warmth from the comfort of knowing the dollars were in the bank, ready for us when we need to replace a car or take a pet to the vet or any of the other many things which aren't part of regular expenses. Or so we have a cushion if we need the money to grow the business or make an investment in something new that he'd like to try.
This year, with my little shade bed by the back door of Byland, I couldn't help myself. It's for sure the cart before the horse, I know. We can't even live there yet, but I don't know how many years we'll have this house, and I just didn't want to miss a Spring. Byland is so good for these things. It's the homiest house we've lived in, so far. It has a front porch and little raised beds. Work still needs to be done to a lot of it, sure, but it has so much potential. I've always dreamed of a front porch, with big hanging ferns, although I figured that would have to wait, so I contented myself with putting some tiny plugs the shade bed in the back, transplanting some Hostas that were deposited in odd, random spots around the yard already. Colors and textures and smells. I love it. I love it.
I didn't spend much, but I did make this.
When he saw it, he smiled. He stayed quiet and patient, but I knew he was wondering what it cost.
Then he surprised me. That verse that says "if a man asks for your cloak, give him your garment also and if he asks you to go one mile with him, go also two" - he surprised me with a demonstration of that idea.
On Saturday night, laying in bed, after an earlier conversation about various projects meaning the budget is lean for a while, my giantheart says to me "would you like to go to the garden center tomorrow, and find two ferns for the front porch?"
"No" I said. "You've just told me we need to keep it lean". Because, even though it's my job to be the procurer, I don't like being the one to make that line between his eyes, the one that means he's feeding all of his concern like so much kindling into the furnace that makes ideas to provide for us. For me and Keno and the procuring I do.
"Well." he said, tone all reason, eyes all light. "It seems like we should at least go look. You said you've been wanting to see the garden center for a while"
There's a scene in "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days" where the girlfriend refers to a shared houseplant as their "love fern".
He bought me love ferns. Gracious and lovely, spinning hospitably in the breeze on my front porch. They're wonderful, like I thought they'd be, but mostly because they were a gift, from him. Even thought everything is ours. Wandering the garden center together, hunting until we found them, buying them even when his instincts are to save, because he wanted me to be delighted. Those are gifts from him.
He also found me chamomile, which I've looked for, for such a long time, for my tea garden. I think to myself how blessed am I to have a man so wise. Such a good steward, but still so generous.