“Money, sex and children will be your biggest stress points,” said my father-in-law over 30 years ago as my wife and I were about to get married. At least that is what I remember. Following are a few points I found interesting from The State of our Unions, a study done on marriage in America at the University of Virginia in 2009. The report contains tons of data and lots of charts if you are interested. After each point, I make a little comment.
The Great Recession’s Silver Lining by W. Bradford Wilcox
- “Credit card debt is corrosive in marriage, whereas shared financial assets sweeten the ties that bind couples together.” 17
I wonder if this is a reason that some couples that have been married for a long time suddenly divorce. When the financial rewards are not there, it is easier to walk away?
- “Husbands are significantly less happy in their marriages, and more likely to contemplate divorce, when their wives take the lead in breadwinning.” 19 “more concentrated among working class and poor men” 19 “dramatically higher rates of divorce among those without college degrees” 20
I guess this does not surprise me although most of my friends are in the more educated group. Few men seem to be able to handle the wife being the bread winner (would be hard for me as well). I give a lot of credit to my brother-in-law who retired from the military to stay at home and take care of the kids while his wife continued her military career.
Bank ON IT: Thrifty Couples Are the happiest by Jeffrey Dew
- “Consumer debt plays a powerful role in eroding the quality of married life.” 24
Debt seems to be a significant reason people do not go into missions service!
- “When individuals feel that their spouse does not handle money well, they report lower levels of marital happiness.” 26 “Only extramarital affairs and alcohol/drug abuse were stronger predictors of divorce.” 27
I am so blessed by a wife who handles money well and is not a shopper.
- Compared to other topics, “financial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples, and generate more negative conflict tactics, such as yelling or hitting, especially among husbands.” 27
Sounds painful. We have had small disagreements but I think by avoiding debt, this has not been a huge pressure point. I need to do a better job at keeping to a budget. My wife finds it harder than me to spend money!
Marriage and the great recession Alex Roberts
Why, you might ask?
- Prevalence of marriage has declined significantly in recent history.
- Divorce rate has increased tremendously. 42
- Number of cohabiting couples has increased roughly sixteen-fold since 1960. 45
- Many of those couples that would once have delayed marriage or divorce due to an economic downturn are now cohabiting 46
- “Marriage . . . creates substantial economic benefits for families. Living apart, the parents must earn $7,090 or 39 percent more to avoid poverty.” 47
- Those married saw income increases of 50 to 100 percent, and net wealth increases of about 400 to 600 percent.
- Continuously married households had about double the income and four times the net worth of the continuously divorced and never-married 48
If anyone is thinking that living together is the way to get the best of both worlds, my next post will be on that topic and the data does not look good.
Question: How has money put pressure on your marriage? What would you do differently?
Happy Valentines Day. Enjoy the followng. Some serious but mostly not.
Gary Thomas states this as well as anyone in his book Sacred Marriage:
What if God didn’t design marriage to be “easier”? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place?
Any situation that calls me to confront my selfishness has enormous spiritual value, and I slowly began to understand that the real purpose of marriage may not be happiness as much as it is holiness. Not that God has anything against happiness, or that happiness and holiness are by nature exclusive, but looking at marriage through the lens of holiness began to put it into an entirely new perspective for me.
Marriage Qualities you learn
On their 50th wedding anniversary and during the banquet celebrating it, Tom was asked to give his friends a brief account of the benefits of a marriage of such long duration.
“Tell us Tom, just what is it you have learned from all those wonderful years with your wife?” an anonymous voice yelled from the back of the room.
Tom responded, “Well, I’ve learned that marriage is the best teacher of all. It teaches you loyalty, meekness, forbearance, self-restraint, forgiveness — and a great many other qualities you wouldn’t need if you stayed single.”
Smart man + smart woman = romance
Smart man + dumb woman = affair
Dumb man + smart woman = marriage
Dumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy
Smart boss + smart employee = profit
Smart boss + dumb employee = production
Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion
Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime
A man will pay $20 for a $10 item he needs.
A woman will pay $10 for a $20 item that she doesn’t need.
GENERAL EQUATIONS & STATISTICS
A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.
To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little.
To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.
Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot more willing to die.
PROPENSITY TO CHANGE
A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change, and she does.
A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
HOW TO STOP PEOPLE FROM BUGGING YOU ABOUT GETTING MARRIED
Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, “You’re next.” They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.
The Frog and the Princess
The frog said to the princess, “I was once a handsome prince until an evil witch put a spell on me. One kiss from you and I will turn back into a handsome prince and then we can marry, move into the castle with my mom, and you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel happy doing so.”
That night, the princess had frogs legs for dinner.
And here are some interesting stats on how men and women view each other in an online dating service?
Here is a book that I think I will NOT read–it may be well-written and it likely has some compelling data but I am not sure that there is much new in the author’s conclusion.
Unlike some other nations, Americans, according to Andrew Cherlin, place a high value on both relationships and individualism. Which is more important? Writing about Cherlin’s new book, The Marriage-Go-Round, Ellen McCarthy says, “We revere the institution of marriage, but put personal fulfillment above almost all else.”
Even though 90% of Americans eventually marry, the divorce rate is around 50%. McCarthy quotes Cherlin,
“We keep asking ourselves ‘Am I happy? Am I getting what I need?’ And if the answers one day come back negative, we’re more likely to leave a relationship,” explains Cherlin, who is on his second marriage.
Doesn’t make sense? Read Paul’s words in Romans 1.
31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
The result–lots of lonely people out there.
I needed something a bit lighter for this weekend. My wife sent me this today so I presume she agrees with what is listed. Yes, I have “the rules for women” and will post it told to do so!! I don’t know where it came from–one of those things floating on the internet but if you have a source for it, please tell me and I will give that wise man credit. I would welcome other rules. For the full list, look at my page on RULES for Men
Here are some of my favorites
1. Men are NOT mind readers.
1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one
1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.
1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials.
1. If we ask what is wrong and you say ‘nothing,’ We will act like nothing’s wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.
Maureen Dowd, (with whom I don’t always agree ) had a column on “An Ideal Husband” the other day in the NYT and here is her summary of a talk that Father Pat Connor gives on “Whom Not to Marry.”
“Never marry a man who has no friends,” he starts. “This usually means that he will be incapable of the intimacy that marriage demands. I am always amazed at the number of men I have counseled who have no friends. Since, as the Hebrew Scriptures say, ‘Iron shapes iron and friend shapes friend,’ what are his friends like? What do your friends and family members think of him? Sometimes, your friends can’t render an impartial judgment because they are envious that you are beating them in the race to the altar. Envy beclouds judgment.
“Does he use money responsibly? Is he stingy? Most marriages that founder do so because of money — she’s thrifty, he’s on his 10th credit card.
“Steer clear of someone whose life you can run, who never makes demands counter to yours. It’s good to have a doormat in the home, but not if it’s your husband.
“Is he overly attached to his mother and her mythical apron strings? When he wants to make a decision, say, about where you should go on your honeymoon, he doesn’t consult you, he consults his mother. (I’ve known cases where the mother accompanies the couple on their honeymoon!)
“Does he have a sense of humor? That covers a multitude of sins. My mother was once asked how she managed to live harmoniously with three men — my father, brother and me. Her answer, delivered with awesome arrogance, was: ‘You simply operate on the assumption that no man matures after the age of 11.’ My father fell about laughing.
“A therapist friend insists that ‘more marriages are killed by silence than by violence.’ The strong, silent type can be charming but ultimately destructive. That world-class misogynist, Paul of Tarsus, got it right when he said, ‘In all your dealings with one another, speak the truth to one another in love that you may grow up.’
“Don’t marry a problem character thinking you will change him. He’s a heavy drinker, or some other kind of addict, but if he marries a good woman, he’ll settle down. People are the same after marriage as before, only more so.
“Take a good, unsentimental look at his family — you’ll learn a lot about him and his attitude towards women. Kay made a monstrous mistake marrying Michael Corleone! Is there a history of divorce in the family? An atmosphere of racism, sexism or prejudice in his home? Are his goals and deepest beliefs worthy and similar to yours? I remember counseling a pious Catholic woman that it might not be prudent to marry a pious Muslim, whose attitude about women was very different. Love trumped prudence; the annulment process was instigated by her six months later.
“Imagine a religious fundamentalist married to an agnostic. One would have to pray that the fundamentalist doesn’t open the Bible and hit the page in which Abraham is willing to obey God and slit his son’s throat.
“Finally: Does he possess those character traits that add up to a good human being — the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous? Or is he inclined to be a fibber, to fits of rage, to be a control freak, to be envious of you, to be secretive?
Someone told me not too long ago that he didn’t expect the difficulties he had encountered in marriage. Join the crowd, my friend! Marriage is the hardest thing I have ever done–to make it work requires more energy and time than anything else I can imagine. Maybe the problem of my friend (and I suspect for all of us who are married) is that he thought marriage would bring him happiness.
My wife (who is sometimes happy with me) pointed me to a post by Travis McSherley, “Til Happy Do We part”
He identifies where many marriages have gone wrong in their pursuit of happiness and distinguishes between happiness and joy. McSherley says that love may produce happiness but “happiness is not the essence of love. Nor can it be the essence of marriage.” He observes that many marriages fall apart when “one or both spouses have clung unrelentingly to a thought process that goes something like: “I want to be happy. I need to be happy. I deserve to be happy.”
May I never be satisfied with just happiness–I want to hold out for JOY!
Update: here is another post on how our focus on happiness has affected the church. A quote: “But the point of American society today, in many ways, is for each of us to achieve great happiness. Perhaps that’s what we use to judge whether or not our lives are successful—how happy we’ve been.”