Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen After Wife Gets MBA

"Hesh, where is your business plan?" It was a question I expected from my banker, but not from my wife. She tried to sweeten it by adding, "honey?" It didn't help. I looked at her in disgust. I realized I had created a monster.

Let me explain. I had encouraged Sue to go back to school. The kids were entering middle school, she was bored with car pooling, and we also could use the extra money.

I told her not to limit herself to speech therapy, her profession before having children. I suggested she see a career psychologist. To my surprise, she scored very well in finance. I think it related to her compulsiveness for details. Then, as always, luck played its part.

The business school was under pressure to bring more women over the age of 40 into its mid-career MBA program. Sue applied, was accepted, and a year later she had an MBA (and I am proud to say she finished in the top 10 percent of her class).

But then she crossed the line. Sue started getting involved in my business. We always had a non-verbal agreement. She stayed out of my business, other then answering the phones when my secretary took a three-month maternity leave. And I stayed out of her gourmet kitchen. She hated all those husbands who thought they could star in their own cooking shows on cable TV.

And yet, she just could not let this one issue pass her by. I thought I had found manna from God again. I was ready to bet all of this year's profits on the acquisition of my competitor's inventory. The guy was liquidating his company after 20 years in business. Sue saw this as a sign that future growth was improbable. I, on the other hand, saw it as an opportunity to buy low, sell high, and pocket a hefty profit.

She reminded me of some of my other purchases that were real dogs. I counter punched, reminding her of the one killing I had made; that deal had paid off the mortgage on our condo at the beach.

Sue continued to pepper me with questions about projected sales, potential competition from China, warehousing costs, and rising interest rates. All the while she was putting the numbers into a spreadsheet on her laptop.

She flipped it around, and showed me the results. Her projections showed that I had miscalculated. She thought I would be so proud of her work. Instead, I stormed out.

She followed me upstairs. "Don't clam up," she yelled. "Remember what Walter (our marriage counselor) told you. Stop distancing yourself. Tell me what you really feel. Say it to me right now."

"OK," I blurted out. "Stay out of my business. When I started, I had no help. I did it all by myself. Sure, I made mistakes, but I just kept on working harder.

"Now you want to get involved, use all your MBA smarts to improve the business? And who will get all the credit? You."

She continued her ranting "My God, I married you because I thought you really respected me as an equal. Now I realize you are jealous. You're just like your friends. You're afraid I am smarter than you; and you can't deal with it."

Just as quickly she calmed down and asked, "Honey, how can we fix this problem? I love you too much to let this get between us."

"Let me cook Sunday night dinner," I said. "I have this great brazed-beef recipe."

Her response was quick and emphatic, "Hell no. Stay out of my kitchen."

Hesh Reinfeld writes a syndicated business humor column. You can read additional examples of his columns on his website: http://www.heshreinfeld.com. Or contact him at [email protected]

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