Just The Wife

Take two steps backwards. Learn how to deal with the situation.

My father danced on stage for a moment with the legendary Ginger Rogers. She danced on stage and screen with Fred Astaire gliding together like Gold Medal Olympians on ice.

What did she say on stage, her infamous line that she did everything Fred did, but backwards and in high heels.

That is what I do. Yesterday I was comparing health plans for our future. But I am just the wife so I have to do things backwards, in Crocs or socks. Let’s not get Seussian and talk about foxes and boxes.

I can not ask when a coverage ends or how much time to get another. I must ask if today is the cutoff date because the law says we have another 15 days to make a decision. I know because I checked it out beforehand with a former employer and know the law.

Anticipate that anyone in HR will ask for your husband’s SSN, date of birth, everything, then will tell you absolutely nothing because you’re just the wife.

How to prepare? First, when you or your husband sign hiring documents, add something that allows spousal access to records. I’m retired and pay the bills, cook, take care of our home and our dog. I am now included on all the billing matters. I made the mistake of taking care of my husband because he came here two weeks before me, flew home and we drove two cars with the dog. He signed for cable, electric, gas, water, sewer, everything so no-one would talk to me.

What would happen if he was run over by a bus? Would everyone say “we can’t talk to you, you’re just the widow?” I’m the funeral home and your dead husband didn’t give you access to the account? Think about it, young people who are about to be married. Get your act together, before you wed.

I review hiring and all contracts, insurance documents and information and help keep this home running. Yes, it’s easy for him to reach stuff in the high cabinets, for me to reach low but it’s a partnership, outsiders seek to make it a dictatorship.

When you move, get both names on all the utilities and all the bills you pay each month including mortgage or lease. Get on all bank accounts with signing authority.

The last thing I want in life is to have my husband come home after a week away and call the gas company and place him on the phone, tired, to say “add my wife to the account, here’s my information.” Then he hands the phone to me and I take care of business, like when that company sent our payments to a family in Texas for three months and accused us of non-payment. Accidents happen.

I ask generic questions. When I ask how long we have to get health insurance they won’t tell me. So I contact the former employer, get a date and know we have 45 days through federal law so have fifteen left to compare and make a decision. The lady can’t tell me that so I change the question. Is this our last day? No. (yea!) Can you send me the plan options? No. I can send them to your husband. I email my husband 1,000 miles away at work and ask him to forward this email to me asap. He did. He has other work to do.

Like generic insurance plans can not go to Just The Wife. Give me a break, people. You’re selling insurance. I pay the bill. Talk to me. My husband is too busy changing the world in other ways. Two years ago I got the city and county to finally agree to paint a crosswalk because people are being killed by speeding cars. They did it, even re-painted it this year but no-one ever stops.

Diminishing my existence does not do you salespeople, HR people and those we pay each month any good.

Backwards, high heels (well, not me, but Ginger), Dee


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