Balancing out each other’s strengths

The Long Suffering Husband is smart. Well, for the most part – he did marry me, after all, implying he might not be as smart as I think.

He is especially talented with math, and he adores spread sheets and calculations. He’s held dominion over the household finances for about a decade now, calculating income and outgoing bills and charting our mortgage in order to pay it off early.

Once upon a time, I handled the household bills, until he staged a coup d’etat after I badly bungled balancing the checkbook. Twice.

The first time, he figured out I’d squirreled away a couple hundred dollars in the checking account by rounding every check up to the next dollar . . . for several years. In my defense, this made the math easier and also offered me a cushion in case I might overdraw. It drove him bonkers. I maintained having a few hundred dollars you didn’t know you had was a good thing. He gnashed his teeth because accuracy. Or something. Anyway, I was to keep an accurate accounting, because otherwise his head would explode.

The second time was a simple typo. I was to pay off a credit card, so I wrote the $800 check and sent it off. Then I started bouncing checks like I was in an extreme trampoline competition. I couldn’t understand it – I had hundreds of dollars in the bank! Then I looked in the checkbook, where I’d written that $800 check as $80 … and had subtracted $80 from the account. Oopsie.

Of course, if I still had my rounding-up cushion, I wouldn’t have bounced any checks. The argument fell on deaf ears, and I was barred from balancing.

It’s OK. I’m happier not doing all that math and stressing over the imbalance in the in and out columns, while he gets to play with banking suites, accounting programs and spread sheets. He’s more suited to it, and I think he not-so-secretly enjoys it.

Because, you know, he’s really smart … but not smarter than my expresso machine.

A recent busy Sunday looked like we were headed out the door without my having a chance to consume my morning coffee. I’m not exactly the sweetest even with my morning java jolt, so he tried to make me a latte.

Tried being the operative word. It didn’t occur to him that I put more water in the machine than he needed for coffee so there would be steam left to froth the milk. Then he turned it on and walked away. Very shortly, there was weak coffee all over the counter and the pungent aroma of burning coffee hanging in the air.

I should have known better when he had to ask me how to turn it on – it has three settings, one marked “off,” a second with the illustration of a coffee cup for brewing and a third, illustrated with a puff of steam, for frothing.

I tried not to laugh; really, I did.

“It’s not a complicated machine,” I said. “It has three settings. Common sense should tell you that you need additional water for steam so you can froth the milk.”

He sopped up the coffee and sulked. “You didn’t tell me I had to watch it the entire time.”

That’s the thing about marriage, though, complementing each other’s strengths and shoring up weaknesses. We’re going to stick to our individual strengths – he can handle the checking account and me? I’ll handle the coffee.

(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at