Money Is A Hot Issue For Couples
Money and Marriage . . . think about it as assets and liabilities not as a topic that creates problems for the two of you!
I was raised by my grandparents with their old time, common sense platitudes on just about every subject. I don’t remember us being poor, although by today’s standards we were, because we always got by with what we had and lived around other people who did likewise. Occasionally a fancy car would drive through our neighborhood with well heeled people inside which would cause my grandmother to sagely shake her finger at me and ruminate the two old adages “Money can’t buy happiness” and “Money is the root of all evil.” Money is a hot issue for couples.
She was right of course. She almost always was about everything. Since I have lived many decades since her passing, I have observed, first hand, examples of her rich lessons many times. Multi-million dollar lottery winners that have destroyed their lives,and countless members of the rich and famous that have self destructed with personal tragedy abound and seem to be in the media almost daily. I’ve learned that rich people have no more guarantee of personal happiness than any of the rest of us. But, money, or the lack of it, is the quintessential cause of most problems in a relationship among those of us who can’t count ourselves as part of the social elite. Let’s face it, money may be the root of all evil, but lack of money can hardly be considered a blessing.
Today, with unemployment at record levels throughout society and no job secure from the fallout of corporate downsizing, financial problems are a very real possibility for20all of us. I suppose the real lesson my grandparents taught me was that you could be happy in life without many of the intrinsic things that we believe are the cornerstones of our happiness. If a couple can agree on realistic values then they have a fighting chance of getting through the hard financial times that seem to occasionally infect our lives like bouts of influenza. I always believe that the first order of business is to make a list with two columns, side by side. One is “assets” and the other “liabilities”. Assets are the things you need for personal survival and peace of mind. They are worth something more than money alone. A couple should examine this one carefully and agree completely upon what is a necessary asset and what is not.
Admittedly, it’s hard to give up those creature comforts that we have become addicted to in the name of happiness.You both have to be on the same page on this one or trouble will manifest itself in short order. Is that slick B M W with the $640 dollar a month payment really necessary or would a Chevy with better gas mileage be a more realistic answer? Is a private school for the kids realistic and is taking the bus to and from school instead of being driven everyday going to destroy and traumatize their entire childhood? How many times can you eat out at a nice restaurant and go to expensive events nowadays? If your going to cook more often now you need an agreement on the daily chores that come with this decision. Same with doing the laundry over sending clothes out to be cleaned. You will be spending more time together at home now and sharing that time can be better or worse depending on your attitudes and temperament. Everyone will be required to make more personal sacrifice to keep things running smooth in your family and that can be unpleasant if you can’t at least agree on the basics.
My wife tells me she would be happy living with me in a tent. I adore her for that, but in reality, I know it isn’t true. We all need some things around us to reaffirm our humanity and validate our aspirations in life. Especially as we get older as my wife and I are now. Choosing what they are must be made with mutual agreement. We both agree that she and I would be k in an apartment or a mobile home if it came to that even though it would not be out of choice.
“Liabilities”are the other half of the equasion.They are those things that will bring you down if given the chance. Things you embrace because of vanity or the illusion of necessity that actually cost you more than they are really worth. When unnecessary trips to the mall and other venues put a strain on already overburdened high interest credit cards, they are a liability. Probably, if you look at the situation objectively, so are the credit cards. Do you really need several in your wallet to be happy? Expensive club memberships and overpriced gifts are liabilities too. The worst thing you can do is try to “keep up with the Jones’s” as Grandma used to say. Sure that shiny new car in the neighbors driveway looks fantastic, but yours runs fine and is paid for. If you try to match your friends and neighbors step for step, your committing financial suicide.You will have to be smarter than that to see the finish line together.
If you constantly argue over money your wasting valuable energy and time on things that, if you both can come to agreement on, can bring a cohesiveness to your relationship. You may just find out what my grandparents learned from life… that real and lasting love isn’t found in the numbers on an inflated account balance. Nor can you buy it, no matter how high your credit score. Don’t let money issues become a hot topic for the two of you.