I started off our marriage by paying the bills. Everything was fine at first, and then the unthinkable happened. I bounced a check. The last time I bounced a check I was still in my teens so this came as a remarkable devastation to me. I am not exaggerating when I say “devastation.” I had an absolute meltdown in the pillow of my bed, sobbing inconsolably as my husband stared at me in fear and wonder.

“Why are you crying?” he asked.

“B-b-b-because I (sob) faaaaaiiiiled!” I wailed into my side of the bed.

“Sonja, they’re just numbers.”

“Just numbers? Just numbers? Those numbers hold a value that determines things. Things like, whether or not we eat this month or wind up on the street.”

“We’re not going to starve and we aren’t going to be homeless. If the numbers aren’t adding up we need to play with them until they do.”

Yes, he sounded sane and I sounded, well, un…sane. But he brought me to a very real epiphany about the differences in how we fundamentally view things. He sees numbers and I see futures. When there is an emotional attachment to money, the budget, well, can bounce.

So I handed over the bills and gratefully relieved myself of the budget duty. I have never looked back. My mom pays the bills in her house, so maybe it isn’t all women that react the way I do. She’s never, as long as I’ve known her, had a panic attack or broken out in cold sweats over the bills. She always used to say, “There’s no reason to get upset over bills. Just pay them.” I never questioned her logic, except for the fact that sometimes in my younger days, there wasn’t enough money to pay the bills, which would send me in a tailspin all over again.

I know money is a painful subject for a lot of people right now. Once you’ve been in a position where you weren’t sure where you were going to get your next meal, that fear never really goes away. I read articles about uber-rich Sarah Jessica Parker waking up in cold sweats worried that she’d be broke again. Or I’d notice how my grandparents, survivors of the depression, never wasted any food. Every spare bit was thrown together in some form of a meal or another. So maybe it isn’t that I’m a woman, and freak out, but the fact that I’ve seen hard times and have no desire to ever revisit them again.

Whatever the case may be, now there’s another difference in our views. I had no idea buying a home was going to be so invasive. My husband just gets the documents over to the loan agent like it’s nothing. Whereas, I feel like I’ve had my clothes ripped off of me and people are looking me over with a magnifying glass, (horrifying image, I know.) I can hear my third grade principal telling me “This will go on your permanent record,” and then the loan officer cackles as she denies our loan and holds up my report card saying I talked too much in class. (Big surprise there.) I’m thinking about that Los Angeles Department of Water bill that was in my name and I never paid it all those years ago when I had roommates. Yes, I was reckless. I was wild and crazy and never expected I’d be buying a home. A major credit card company gave me a five hundred dollar limit in college, which blew up to a 15,000 dollar limit in a day. I ask you, who in their right mind would give a college student a 15,000 dollar limit. Why not just give me a loaded weapon and a bottle of Jack Daniels?

Before you throw comments about how I need not blame the saint like credit companies for my own irresponsible youth, and how can I compare credit woes to responsible drinking and gun ownership, save it. I know. I was stupid. Really, really stupid. And now, I’m no longer going to rack my conscience and ring my hands over my past.

Besides, they’re just numbers.

And I’m not going to do any good stressing over bills. I’ll just pay them.

Correction, my husband will pay them.

Thank goodness.