Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How to survive being an expatriate's wife, lesson 2

I remember the first time I witnessed a 'jewellery frenzy'. A lady from Riy@dh came with her bag of crystal jewellery and displayed them during a get-together dinner party. Looking at the hoards of ladies gathering around that table, you'd think she was giving it out for free.
I looked at them, too, of course. They were too chunky for my taste, but it doesnt hurt to look. I called Taufik over to also take a look. Manalah tahu kan.. dia mimpi pelik ke semalam... Who knows, maybe he'd lose his mind for a minute and decide to buy me something.
As expected, he didn't buy me anything. Too chunky, he said. The other ladies comforted me with words of encouragement. "maybe he'll buy you something else another time", they said.
Then a few months later, at another dinner gathering (of roughly the same folks), a Burmese lady came and showed her offerings of gold and precious stones jewellery. There was one that caught my eye, because it was not chunky and it was pretty, but the price was too expensive for me. So again, I called Taufik over to show him the piece. If he doesnt buy it, at least he would know what I like. The other ladies were abuzz when he came over. "Elisa suka yang tu, beli lah.." they coaxed him. "eheheh .. takpelah, terimakasih" was all he replied and he walked away.
I think the ladies were more dissapointed than me, because one of them even said "Kesian..." to me.
Though I was kinda miffed and embarassed that someone actualy pitied me for not getting some trinket, I took that opportunity to remind myself that having jewellery might be a priority for her, but it's not mine. And neither is it my husband's priority to buy me jewellery. For him, he would rather bank in XXk of money into my savings account than buy me shiny things.

I'm sure everyone, not just expatriates, have their own set of priorities. But when you're an expatriate, you obviously get more money than if you were not, and this could actually exagerate what your priorities are.
Some people, would rather spend a lot of money on travelling here and there and everywhere, but they don't mind driving a Chevy. Some people spend a huge portion of their money to enable them to drive X5s and SLKs, but they don't get to travel much. Some people's houses are filled with furniture and accessories and their jewellery boxes filled to the brim with all things that glitter but they don't have savings. Some people rent smaller houses so that they can send their kids to a better school. Some kids are sent to a not-so-good school, but the school has religious lessons and are just a few blocks away from their house, which means less travelling time, thus more family time.
I'm sure each one has their own pros and cons.. you can't really argue which ones are better and whether yours or theirs are right or wrong.
What you can do is you can find out what works for you. Make sure your priorities align with your husband's priorities, so that there are no conflicts during decision making and spending of hard-earned money, irregardless of how much it is.

Lesson 2: Everyone has their own set of priorities. Everyone can justify their choice of priorities. Don't compare and don't judge if other's are different than yours.

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