http://www.hgtv.com/house-hunters/show/index.html"House Hunters" is a reality TV show on HGTV. (I used to feel oh so superior to people who watched reality TV ... come on, you can't say you haven't felt that yourself.)
I love "House Hunters," "Property Virgins" and all those other shows about people looking for a house to buy not because I like the houses, but because I love watching the people.
I have always been a people watcher. I see the subtle changes in an expression, in a movement - and then I analyze it. To death. But that's not my point.
Recently, I saw an episode of "House Hunters International," which, as you would expect is people buying houses overseas. It's funny because some of the people are already living "overseas" (England, Australia) and I could make several observations about how non-U.S. families react to their son/daughter moving to another country as opposed to the pearl clutching that goes on in an American family ...
Anyway! There was a couple and the husband whose company sent him to work in Shanghai for a bit so he was bringing his family along: his wife and two children.
One place they saw was a palatial residence with a beautiful big yard outside the city. I should mention here that the guy had a housing allowance from his company.
As soon as they hit that house, the wife and kids lit up like a fireflies. Wife got all dreamy, kids were choosing bedrooms and husband said, "There are too many chandeliers in here. Who needs this many chandeliers?"
He then said it was too big. It was too far outside the city (he had a driver to drive him to work).
Wifey, with tears in her voice, asked him how many more times in their lives they would get to live in a beautiful mansion, rent-free.
No way was that man budging from his inexplicable unwillingness to make his wife really happy at no apparent expense or trouble to him.
When she realized he was not going to budge, her mouth went into a straight line and stayed there while she said, "I love you" and kissed him - and it was still in a line two months later after the show went back to check on them in the house the husband had chosen. I don't think he was getting much Shanghai Surprise, if you get my drift.
There have been, of course, reverse situations - ones in which the husband has made extraordinary sacrifices and gone to great expense because he realized he was uprooting his family and wanted them to be as happy/comfortable as possible.
Field Research with Connor Coyne
23 hours ago