After pouring their champagne and her blowing him a kiss, he discloses his agenda. Just two items. Size of family they expect to have and organizational dream he has in mind with the eight strategies.
“You’re not against having a big family such as I endorse,” Hank begins. But you have said enough about enjoyment of your work that I suspect we are not on the same page.” She slowly nods her head in agreement. Before she can respond, he moves on.
“We need a plan or at least close agreement where we are going in the children department. Know what I mean?”
She shifts and sits more upright. He saw it before; she becomes slow and deliberate in her actions much as she did just before her monologues about virtual virginity and lovers and lovees.
“Hank, honey, I have thought your intentions over carefully. I just can’t do the big family thing. I want both boy and girl and expect to go as far as three births to get them. If three are of the same sex, then I withdraw my application for at least one of each sex.
“Moreover, I previously mentioned to not work until one or all are in first grade, I also withdraw that application as of now. I want to stay home for six months with each and then return to work. Now, I can shorten the six months if necessary to avoid staying away from my job too long, whatever the situation may be at the time.
“If I have to return to work prematurely because of our personal finances, however, I will be disappointed. To me, that would be a sacrifice for our children that we as managers should do everything to prevent. IOW, it would signify us as not being good enough to have children, if our spending habits prevent giving them what we promise each other we will deliver based on our arrangements today. I am not talking about extravagant lifestyle for either us or any children we have. I’m talking about common sense spending that allows us to save enough to cover the new spending of raising them without going deeply in debt. If we can’t sacrifice enough before, if we are so selfish, we shouldn’t have them at all.”
He studies her carefully, slowly nodding agreeably to her words, and as if he agrees with her intentions. When he next speaks, he is also slow and deliberate.
“As I view your conclusions, financial strength is prioritized ahead of having a new child, your job needs can override length of stay-at-home wants, and two kids are enough if they are opposite sex. If I have it right, I can agree with you and plan accordingly.” She nods yes.
“On the other hand, I can apply pressure to do things differently as long as we stay constrained within those boundaries? Is that agreeable?”
She sits straighter. “What do you mean?”
Hank responds, “Well, if we have three girls, I can apply MILD pressure on you to try again for a boy. You did not reject that idea, just showed a preference for it. Okay?” She assents to his wish.
“I have another example. When I get us able to live on one income and the kids are not yet out of school, can I request that you become a stay-at-home until they all graduate high school?” She responds, “We’ll see when the time comes.
“I have a favor to ask. Please write up some minutes of this meeting and our agreements. Four reasons: First, so we can see years from now just what we did agree to and have evidence to cover any differences we may encounter. Second, if it’s worth deciding and planning, it’s worth recording. Third, so we have a better chance of living up to hard, factual evidence instead of the emotions that will change our lives along the way. And fourth, as with the eight strategies we will study next, I want to leave some evidence behind for our kids that we took marriage seriously enough to work and plan it out ahead of time.
“Will you write them up? Then, we can go over them for final approval by both of us and figure out where to store them until needed.
“Okay, let’s move on to those eight strategies, or principles, or policies I sent in the email. Any objections yet?”
“Well, yes, pardon the extreme exception because I don’t mean it like I’m gonna sound. You’re setting yourself up to be a dictator. It’s your way or the highway. I know you too well, you have very justifiable reasons, but I need to hear them. So, I ask you to take the floor and justify each one of the eight. Frankly, I don’t see the need you think we need.”
“Roger, I understand. And we can save a few bucks by not needing champagne to loosen my tongue and stay on track. As I describe our needs to breathe common sense into our marriage and make management of the home much easier for you. I believe I can convince you that my design will help us prevent squeaky wheels on our marital bus with me in the driver’s seat and you in the relationship management role. My place? Tomorrow evening? I’ll supply the Mexican, you bring a wine.”
“Nope, I want something lighter for such a heavy conversation, so Chinese if you please.”