When I was a bride more than 35 years ago, I was going to be the best wife ever. I'd put Donna Reed, June Cleaver, and Harriet Nelson to shame. I resolved never to serve frozen packaged food. Every night at 6:15 p.m., I'd serve a four-course dinner prepared from scratch.
I soon gave up the frozen food maxim. Now my idea is that if Sara Lee can do it better, let her! And I have a new resolution: Never serve frozen food—without thawing it first.
Don't get me wrong. I still have ideals. In fact, some of them have been strengthened by doing the things I said I'd never do. I've learned that on the other side of every Never is an Always. And bridging the two is real-life experience.
Following are some of my marriage "nevers"—and how I learned to balance my best intentions with common sense.
I'll never hide credit card bills.
Actually, I'm not sure I actually said this aloud. It seems so obvious, it shouldn't need saying. As a newlywed, the Proverbs 31 woman was my model. I would be a woman whose "husband has full confidence in her." Yessiree, my husband, Bill, would be able to trust me to keep a tight rein on our finances. Never mind the fact that before we married, I enjoyed generous lines of credit using my parents' charge cards. If I needed something, there was only one thing to do: Buy it.
I knew that after we married, things would have to change, especially since Bill was on the starve-as-you-go plan at graduate school. But eternal optimist that I am, I figured saying "I do" would miraculously transform me into the consummate frugal homemaker. It didn't happen. I had the right ideal but the wrong game plan.1