Pizza, used cars, and marriage: Here’s why all three require compromise.

I saw a post on Facebook the other day that I could, unfortunately, relate to more than a few times. I’ll share it below for your viewing pleasure:

pizza-used-car-marriage-compromise
There you go, running off with a “pizza” my heart… *ba dum tiss*

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been in a situation like this before. Have you ever let someone have their way because it was easier to deal with at the moment? I know I have.

In fact, I was actually in this scenario a few days ago. Except replace the frozen pizza with a used vehicle, and now we’re talking some serious business.

Our poor 22-year old Jeep finally kicked the bucket last week. It clocked in well over 200,000 miles, and it happened to be my husband’s first and only car he’d ever owned. And he did not take great care of it. The fact that it was still in one piece after all of the crazy stories he’s told about it is a true testament to how well Jeeps in that generation were built. They are very hard to kill.

Anyway, we found ourselves at a car dealership, arguing over whether we should be getting another Jeep that was newer, a truck that was not so new but could be great for our work, and how the hell we were going to finance the whole damn thing. We brought his dad along for the ride, and for some sound mechanical knowledge and judgment as we looked at our choices.

Near the end of the day, I was fed up. We test drove two Jeeps that were well out of our price range as “viable” options. I felt like I kept my mind and my options open for Dan. But as soon as we got around to the truck I had thought was a great deal for what it was, Dan immediately started dismissing it.

“There are dings everywhere, it’s got a broken tail light, there are some weird noises coming from it… This thing is beat to crap.”

“Well, duh.” I thought. It was a USED truck. And I wasn’t trying to break the bank, either…

After a reluctant test drive, and a few words with the sales guy about fixing the tail light and the minor paint chips at no charge, Dan’s dad gave his ruling.

“It’s a good truck.” He said. “Runs just like mine. You probably won’t find another one like this for the price it’s at…”

Here’s where Dan got upset. He still wanted the Jeep, and he still had very little interest in the truck I had found. I’m not proud of how I reacted, but I snapped back at him:

“Well, since Dan doesn’t want the truck, we might as well not even look into it or try negotiating the price. If he doesn’t want it, then we’re not getting it.”

Now didn’t that sound familiar to the pizza story just before that? Of course, when you and your spouse are deciding on a pizza that costs 8 bucks versus a $25,000 work vehicle, the conflict in the more expensive situation is going to be much worse. Dan could have the first choice of all the Digiorno pizzas in the world for all I cared. But dropping this much money over things like the sound system, the screen display size on the dashboard, and petty cosmetic details on a work truck? That’s where I drew the line.

Now from Dan’s point of view, he was frustrated. I had apparently chosen the last car we bought (even though I previously understood we had both agreed on the choice made together) and he was growing resentful of having to drive his old beat-up Jeep around. Now was his chance to finally get a car that was more up to date and that he could make last for a long time. He didn’t care how much it cost us financially, he just wanted to finally have something nice for himself to drive, too.

It doesn’t help that we both have different ways of going about buying a car. I want to negotiate the prices. Dan is happy to trust the sticker price. We also both handle money differently in general. I tend to be the saver, while Dan is the spender in the relationship. I grew up with less of the green stuff in my pocket, so I’m definitely a bit pickier about where it ends up going.

At the end of the day, we were both exhausted. Now, I broke a cardinal rule here for our financial health’s sake: I told his parents about how much money we actually had for a down payment. Since we’re business partners, after all, they really needed to know the severity of the situation we were dealing with. We just couldn’t afford the options that Dan had presented to them. They were not happy. So naturally, his mom started lecturing him about money, and this didn’t help the tension between us at all.

We went to dinner after we had finished shopping around. I ended up feeling defeated, and Dan felt even more resentful towards me after his own parents ended up siding with me. I didn’t know what I could do to make the situation any better. Enter the awkward silence and uncomfortable glances.

Luckily, we were able to find something that could fit our needs and our budget the next day, and we were able to get over what had happened before. Sometimes, the solution to the problem doesn’t come that easily or quickly. If there was anything to take away from this whole thing, here are three key points: Know what you want. Readdress expectations if needed. And always keep an open mind.

I cannot stress how important communication is here. Any relationship has certain amounts of giving and taking to them, and it’s certainly a delicate balancing act at times. It becomes a problem when you let the little things like the pizza scenario build up until you have a car-buying situation, and then you both end up blowing up about every little thing in front of the in-laws. Having the ability to work through the little grievances before something bigger happens is crucial.

There’s also always the possibility that an agreement is never reached. And that is okay, too. Sometimes it may take a little time to figure out what is going to work best for both parties. And thankfully for us in this case, we found a compromise. That compromise was a Jeep…

Which is 15 years old and has fewer zeros in its price tag. See? Compromise.

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