Tag Archives: Relationships

When Your German Wife Makes More Money than You: Lessons from an American Expat in Germany

successful-business-woman-powerful-beautiful-beach

“It’s not a contest, Dear.” — Photo Credit:
Vladimir Pustovit (https://www.flickr.com/photos/pustovit/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Copyright.

As you know, I am a graphic designer from Portland, Oregon. After my German wife and I were married, I dropped everything — including a house, car and full-time job — and moved with her to Hannover, Germany. Overnight, I morphed from a gainfully employed agency designer to a nervously self-employed freelance designer, complete with panic attacks and night terrors in which my home mortgage  — personified by an accountant with the head of a bull — would chase me down and stab me repeatedly with a rolled-up copy of my credit report: “You’re gonna miss your next payment, you little bitch. And you’ll probably miss the one after that too, because you don’t have a steady source of income. You’re just a worthless little piece of monkey shit, aren’t you? And your wife is too nice to tell you, but your breath always sucks.”

Luckily, it all worked out. I built up a client base filled with awesome, inspirational people — most of whom found me through this blog — and I’m enjoying the hell out of working for myself. (Company policies include: “Casual Monday-through-Friday,” “Pantless Skype Sessions” and “Mandatory Pilsner Sensitivity Training.” [Our HR department has been trying to crush this last one for years.])

You know what else came as a pleasant surprise? When my wife finished her Referendariat training and landed a job as a full-time Gymnasium teacher. That’s when her income level shot past mine like a lubed-up piglet on its way to the teet. Not only did she earn more money in Euros — which, at the time, were way stronger than US Dollars — but she earned more after taxes. (Unsolicited Expat Tip of the Day: Most Germans think of their paychecks in terms of net income. They lack the requisite sense of entitlement to think of pretax money as their money. We Americans like to focus on the exact amount Uncle Sam is stealing from us, crank up our blood pressure a notch or two, then simmer through the rest of the day in impotent rage. It’s tradition.)

Anyway, when my wife landed her job, suddenly she was the primary earner, and I became a trophy wife with fake tits and an adorable hobby / business venture. You might think this would crush a real man’s ego, but if you’ve read this blog before, you know I’m not a real man at all. I loved her new pay grade! Where we simply split our financial obligations before, now we could do things on a sliding scale. And the peace of mind was the best part; I knew if I ever had a bad month, she could cover the difference and save me from taking it in the shorts.

Of course, the power dynamic has shifted a little; I can’t just shoot down every purchase decision and Ebinizer Scrooge my way through life anymore. My wife has her own money, so the other day when she suggested we get our wedding rings engraved, I refused, saying I would not be spending any more money that month. To this, she replied:

“But maybe I can spend money. I am the bread maker now.”*

*Of course she meant “bread winner,” but I like her expression way better. 

If you would like to read another classic Denglish post, check this one out: My German Wife Explains the Optimal Weather Conditions for Seasonal Allergy Attacks

German Woman Explains ‘Disc Parking’ to Her American Husband

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“Parking discs are like little time machines fueled by guilt.” — Photo Credit: “Zeichen 291″ — Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zeichen_291.svg#mediaviewer/File:Zeichen_291.svg

Back in February of 2013, my German wife and I were driving through a small village in Niedersachsen when we decided to stop and take a look around (which obviously means she made us stop so she could do some window shopping.) And as usual, my wife was behind the wheel because, A: just looking at the Autobahn gives me a panic attack, and B: I haven’t driven a stick shift since I was 16 years old, so the clutch would probably detonate the moment my foot touched it.

As she parked the car, I noticed my wife reaching for something under the seat; a rectangular piece of paperboard with a rotating dial on the front indicating the time of day. She spun the dial and set it on the dashboard facing outward. I climbed out of the passenger seat, looked through the windshield and saw she’d set the dial to the exact time we’d arrived.

German-Disc-Parking-Meter-Europe

“Honey, I know you’re a good person and all, but now is not the time for honesty.”

Now, there were absolutely no other cars to be seen. No people around either. In fact, the whole place seemed to be asleep. (Asleep or dead. It’s hard to tell with these village Germans.) I couldn’t understand why it would matter how long we parked there, or if some parking inspector would actually be dick enough to check our dial and ticket us for staying too long. Furthermore, I could not understand my wife’s reluctance to take full advantage of a rule system so naive it actually bases itself on trust. Holy shit, I wanted to spin that dial so hard it would say we got there tomorrow.

Anyway, I pointed to the dashboard and said to my wife, “Why not just crank that thing super late, so if you’re asked, you can say, ‘I’m just a silly little German. I made a mistake.’ ”

Without even looking, she dropped her keys in her purse, stepped up onto the sidewalk and said, “Germans don’t make mistakes.”

 


 

The Screamingly Psychotic, Totally Dysfunctional German Couple Upstairs

couple yelling at each other

“It’s not over until somebody shatters a vase.” — Photo by Vic — Subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/59632563@N04/)

In an earlier post, I told you about our apartment building and the truly evil neighbors beneath us. Today, I would like to tell you about the batshit insane ones living in the apartment directly above, and why I hate them with every ventricle of my American heart.

First off, let’s meet the couple: Off-Medication Astrid and her henpecked husband, Timur the Castrated. At first glance, they may look perfectly ordinary. Astrid is a young German woman, pretty, with long blonde hair. Timur is Turkish, and he has that adorably pathetic look of a little boy who has just zipped his pecker up in his fly for the first time. But if you take a longer look — really stab them to death with your eyes — you’ll see they are far from normal.

Timur the Castrated, as the name suggests, has only one major flaw: deficient scrotitude. He doesn’t have the eggs to divorce his crazy wife, but that’s not what infuriates me about him. No, I want to pick up a newspaper off the street, roll it up real tight, and pimp slap him for marrying her in the first place. I’m sure his parents warned him about her, but if they didn’t, I’d like to mega-Turk pimp slap the shit out of them too.

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“Quit flirting with that trigger and roll the cylinder, pussy.” — Photo by Thomas Leuthard — Subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasleuthard/)

No, the real problem in our apartment building is Off-Medication Astrid. If you pass her in the stairwell, she will give you a toothy grin that lets you know she calms the voices in her head by detonating feeder mice in the microwave. You can just see the crazy inside her. But all one really needs to appreciate her madness is a pair of functioning eardrums. This woman is loud, and by loud, I mean the noise she generates passes through the floorboards above our home office, cuts through the music in my headphones, and punctures the bony zenith of my skull.

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“Please let me pass, lady. I just want to go home. Oh God, I just want to go home!” — Photo by David Long — Subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/fromthefrontend/)

Astrid seems to have exactly two behavior modes: Heavy Construction and Murderous Harpy. While in Harpy Mode, she screams, calls her husband names, cries, throws shit and then screams some more. While in Construction Mode, she is hammering, drilling and painting something with roller brushes. My wife and I have absolutely no idea what she is building.

My wife once said, “They don’t like each other. I think they are building a wall.”

I found this hilarious, but have since come up with an alternative scenario: I think Astrid fancies herself an artist. Either that, or she is constructing a Hate-Fueled Nuclear Fusion Engine, which she will one day use to split the earth in twain and entice the Devil himself to come forth and take his rightful seat upon a throne of ashes.

Get this: Astrid was once drilling something so loudly above our heads, one of the horrible neighbors in the apartment beneath us shouted up at her to stop. I felt like I was in the middle row of Hollywood Squares, trapped on all sides by senile actors from the 60s trying to out-lunatic each other. Holy flying monkeyshit I hate our neighbors. Every single one of them. Thank Christ my wife and I are looking for a new place to live. The thought of finding a house of our own is my one true hope — one which soothes me to sleep every night as I suck my thumb and snuggle my blanket like a spiteful little baby.

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“…you sons of bitches…” — Photo by Ms. Phoenix — Subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/32020964@N08/)