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A Nice Complement

Jim Wasserman, 2:43 am ET

THE RIGHT PARTNER is not one whose outlook is the same as yours, but rather one whose outlook complements you. For me and my wife Jiab, we agree on shopping decisions most of the time. When we disagree, however, it’s due to each of our “leans.” I lean toward spending a bit more money to save time. To be finished with shopping, I’ll say at some point that what we’ve found is good enough. Jiab, on the other hand, leans toward spending more time shopping. She wants to make sure we get the ultimate value in our purchase.

It depends on what we’re shopping for, but there are times and products when our differences emerge. Sometimes, she adopts my lean and stops shopping—while secretly looking over her shoulder, still hunting for the best deal. At other times, we keep going—and I drag myself along like an obstinate toddler who just wants to go home.

Perhaps it’s a difference in dopamine release. I love the idea of being done with a task, crossing it off and having the freedom to choose what to do next. Jiab’s pleasure center fires when she knows there’s no better deal to be had out there—anywhere—and so she has “won” at shopping.

In cavepeople terms, Jiab wants to ensure that her hunting expedition brought down the best mammoth with the fewest arrows, even if it delayed the tribe’s feast a bit. By contrast, I want to be back at the cave early, lounging by the fire, even if I have to make new arrows for tomorrow because I shot all mine today.

Jiab wants best. I’m happy with good enough. It’s a balance of views that keeps us centered. And sometimes we even learn from one another. Just yesterday, I compared prices on the internet for an hour. Jiab avoided standing in a long line to save $1.50. As the Spanish say, poco a poco, little by little.

I’d say more, but I know Jiab will be reading this. I’ve said enough.

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