Make Love, Not Money (Sort Of)

Photo: Paulo Correa

After reading Julie Rain's post on marriage (BTW Julie, great job and kudos to your successful marriage) and perusing the comments, it was interesting to see how many people wondered what a successful marriage had to do with money.

Well, being in any serious relationship has a lot to do with money, a fact that many of us are already well aware of. After all, sharing in a life with a significant other is all about dealing with the realities of daily life, and what greater reality is there than making and spending money? Factor in children and its importance becomes even greater.

And as most people know, money is one of the heaviest issues that couples have to deal with and one of the most cited reasons for marital strife and failure. Then again, it can also be a reason for them to stay together.

A recent article on Yahoo Finance revealed that many couples who simply aren’t making it on the domestic front are actually staying together for financial reasons. Apparently the cost of a divorce can be staggering. What with attorney’s fees and court costs, as well as the division of property and the expense of beginning a new life, the financial burden can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a consequence, during lean economic times, 37% of matrimonial lawyers see a decline in divorces, citing the painfully practical (and somewhat callous) observation that divorce is “the worst thing you can do financially.”

And while I would never encourage people who are not getting along to share close quarters, it is ironic that one of the main reasons to split is also one that keeps them together, don’t you think?

So with all the challenges and negative stereotypes about money and relationships, why do we bother putting ourselves through emotional and financial hell in the first place? Especially when there is only about a 50% chance of success?

Well, if you don’t know the answer to that question, then you haven’t seen enough Hugh Grant movies or read enough books by Nicholas Sparks. I think it’s fair to say that we (at least most of us) are social creatures who prefer to be with somebody rather than spend our evenings alone. Even time spent with friends and family doesn’t replace time with a significant other. Sure relationships can be complicated, and downright maddening, but in the heat of falling in love, who thinks about the practical consequences? I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather wallow in the deliciously seductive heat of the moment.

In fact, it seems a lot of other people do, as well. Recent articles in the Economist and CNN tell of a booming online matchmaking and dating industry during these rough economic times. People’s suffering in monetary world seems to translate into a desire to nurture the romantic aspect of their lives, whereby being with somebody may help them cope with their difficulties. Even in the face of assorted relationship derived angst and frustration, people continue their search for love, clinging to the hope that they will find that special somebody to share a life with.

And for good reason, especially with uplifting examples like Julie’s. I think it’s fair to say that many of us would like to be in similar shoes. Sure, there are plenty of independent people who say they never want to be tied down, but for a lot of people, the idea of sharing the dream of having a family and pursuing mutual goals together is what life is all about. And best of all, she was willing to share her secrets of success with us.

So maybe we’d all do well to take a page out of Julie’s notebook and give due consideration to the relationships in our lives. Talk to your significant other (#1), play and have fun (#10), make them laugh (#13), and most of all, be loyal and faithful (#23). I might make an exception with #5 since I loathe weddings, and would possibly take #12 a step further and advocate celebrating the small things that happen every day, but nonetheless, I think we see eye-to-eye.

Finally, when it comes to matters of money, rather than denying or ignoring it’s importance in our relationships, maybe it’s more instructive to embrace the fact that the two are interrelated. This, of course, makes it all the more important to strike a balance between the two and ask the big questions of why we are making it in the first place and how much is enough. Those, however, are discussions for another time.

For now, eat, drink, and be merry, especially when it’s with your spouse and/or children. Find reason to celebrate the little things since there are so many more of them, and never take what you have together for granted.

And whatever you do, don’t lose sight of the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, after all is said and done and we approach the twilight of our lives, it is better to make love, not money (sort of).

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Guest's picture

Fabulous post! It's so easy to forget the importance of connecting with another person when you're stressed about money. It helps to feel part of a team - working together.

That said... just be careful with the "make love" part - if you're having money problems, it may not be the best time to add to your family! :-)

Fred Lee's picture

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that when you have money problems, it may not be the best time to start or add to your family (whether or not you enjoy trying is a different matter). But, being a father of two, I think it's never a perfect time, and if you wait around for it, it just may never happen.

As far as connecting, I think it's an essential aspect of being the social creatures that we are.