Marriage, I’ve heard, is about compromise. With money being one of the biggest sources of tension between married couples, it makes sense that learning to compromise early on about money will lead to a happier marriage. You can’t always buy yarn and still go out for an expensive meal; sometimes you have to choose what is more important to you.
Money, my husband explained as we drove to Boston two weeks after our wedding, was tight. We just had a very expensive honeymoon, we didn’t know when we’d be back at work, and this drive alone was costing us $2,867. I’m not sure if the fact that he gave this speech strapped into a stretcher in the back of an ambulance made his point more—or less— compelling.
We were headed to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, to an in-patient rehab program which treats traumatic brain injuries. It was also the first time the two of us would be alone since his accident, if you don’t count the two EMTs accompanying us to Boston (which my husband definitely did not). “You really should have found a more affordable way to get to Boston,” he kept telling me. “Why do you have such expensive tastes?” He glared at the skein of yarn I was winding into a ball, as if it were the final expense that would push us into financial ruin. Luckily, he had made off with all the soap, pillow cases, and even a portable plastic urinal (you never know what might come in handy) from his hospital room after being notified that a bed was open at Spaulding, just to be “economical”.
He’d been awake for about a week before he was well enough to be transferred to Boston. It was rare, we were told, for a patient to just wake up like up a light switch turning on (“a miracle” I overheard a nurse whispering). The scans didn’t show any permanent brain damage: still, there would be deficits to work through. One of the ICU doctors pulled me aside to tell me that he had to speak up for his own sex. “Your husband is going to say things he doesn’t mean. You have to remember that you didn’t marry a stranger. It is just his injury talking.” The first time my husband told me that his injury was my fault I tried to remember this warning, but it didn’t help.
I assumed that by the time we got to Spaulding that he would be so tired from his three-hour lecture on finances that he would go straight to sleep. His room had a couch that turned into a bed so I could stay with him “like a real couple,” my husband said gleefully. We arrived around dinner time, and as I got a tour from one of his nurses, he ordered dinner. When I returned and told him I was going out to find something to eat, he was shocked. “It’s like you didn’t even listen to me during the ride down here. You can’t spend any money. You can share my meals. I ordered enough for two.” I told him I could use a Starbucks’ gift card, knowing that even showing him our healthy bank balance wouldn’t help the situation. “How long do you think that will last? You’ll get used to eating out. You better just stay here where it’s free.”
I knew he was scared of being left alone, so I took out my knitting and waited for dinner. Sure enough, there were two entrees. I kept working on my newest pattern, not yet hungry. When I looked up, five minutes later, all the food was gone. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I was hungry. You’ll just have to wait for morning.” I knit two hats that night. Ask any knitter and they will tell you: it was a good compromise.
This compromise hat was knit using Malabrigo Rasta yarn.
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