Knowing what is important in life is always tricky. Balancing material and non-material needs seems easier said than done, especially when the former is often underpinning the latter. It is something I find difficult, very difficult in fact. Too much seems to revolve around money, or rather having enough money to do the things that are less material/more non-material. Not having enough money therefore feels a threat to the rest of my existence. This might sound shallow to some, and it certainly does to me, but it’s actually more like a vicious circle from which I’d like to break free. Therefore I was interested to read an interview with Peep Show actress Olivia Colman where she briefly discussed this very topic.
Throughout their married life, Colman has been the main breadwinner. Isn’t he a writer? “He’s not published. He gets terribly upset when I say, ‘Ed, my husband, is a writer’ because he’s still sitting in the shed writing his book. He’s a perfectionist, I suppose. He’s taking his time.”
How long has he been writing? “Ten years.” He also does the brunt of the childcare for their two children, aged five and three. “He’s always wanted to write. We went to drama school together, and he did law at university. He did two weeks’ work experience as a student and was offered a place with a big law firm, but I’ve never known him so grumpy and miserable. We were 21, 22, and at the end of the two weeks he said, ‘I don’t want to do law’ and I was like, ‘I don’t want you to do law.’ I’d rather not have the money and have my lovely Ed than have shitloads of money and never see him. I said, ‘I’m working enough for both of us at the moment, so let’s make the most of it. Rather than you on your deathbed when you’re 90 saying, I wish I’d written, why don’t you just do it?’ If I’m living the dream, it’s not fair if he’s not.”
Do they ever worry about money? No, she says, because they’ve never had a great deal and they’ve always made do. “We are very lucky because we have each other. We’re fine, and if all else fails we can sell our house. We’ve got a massive mortgage on it, but we’ll be OK. And we’re lucky in that my mum and dad will never let us be homeless. We can always move back home.”
It struck a chord. There were many similarities. Most of all it was the love that one person can show another in letting the other do what they want, to let them “live the dream”. It is certainly something that MrsAB tries desperately to instill in me and something which I seem to resist to the extent of actively pushing it away. But like Colman deep down I know that MrsAB wants her Rob back and that what I am best doing is working to make that happen. Without wishing to sound crass, money worries should be secondary to our happiness. Money is a means to an end. We spend only in a cautious and considered manner, our interests are mainly cheap and we haven’t even got the huge mortgage Colman and her husband have. My identity is better shaped by what I love rather than what I do. Taking a leaf out of the Colmans’ book might seem alien and scary but as MrsAB said again to me this morning, what is there to lose by trying.