Krystal Yee recently wrote “When do you have the ‘Money Talk’ In a Relationship.” It made me shudder, frankly. I can’t imagine the horrors of having to date again much less having to sound out new partners on everything from STDs to HELOCs. It was another (unneeded) reminder of how incredibly wonderful it is to be married, in love, and working &*%*$ hard to stay that way.
She’s right, though, that money can break many relationships and add a lot of tension to others. One older married couple I’m related to have had to invest patience and empathy in solving their basic difference in money outlooks: one is always afraid of being destitute, the other is always sure things will work out. Fortunately since they were both professionals earning a good income their disputes were never enough to drive them apart. For a family with a much more modest income those same differences could well have ended in divorce.
The High Cost of Divorce
Divorce itself is a huge reason for poverty. In NewsWeekly from Australia, Augusto Zimmermann lists various studies that have shown a decline in living standards of up to 30% in the US in families who divorce.
I’m sure you know people who have divorced; you may even be someone who has divorced. If you run through the list of those you know who are divorced, I’d be very surprised if each of those families are financially as well-off post divorce as pre. (Obviously, though, there are reasons why divorces are necessary even if they may be financially devastating.)
Marriage and Money
Perhaps ironically, the marriage ceremony itself can cause financial hardship.
When a couple of my older relatives married, they had a church service for friends and family followed by a reception in the church hall with sandwiches, squares and cookies, and a slice of the wedding cake. Half of the family couldn’t attend because they didn’t own cars and taking the train from one province to another was unthinkably expensive.
Fast forward to today when it’s not unusual for middle-class couples to have a “destination” wedding where everyone flies to another country and stays in a hotel for several days. Every single thing, from the officiate to the food and drinks must be paid for at retail rates.
If you wander through the internet with a search term like “I can’t afford to go to your destination wedding” you’ll score dozens, if not hundreds, of articles. Salon has covered it. Ask Ellie has too.
Melissa Leong at the Financial Post wrote about this new trend in weddings in “No, I don’t want to go to your expensive wedding.” She describes people paying $500- 1000 just to attend a stag or stagette. What has made this “normal”?!
MamaMia wrote about the significant changes in the costs of being a bridesmaid, too, in “Actually no, I don’t want to be your bridesmaid. I can’t afford it.”
All of the articles speak to the same problem. In North America, at least, people find it tremendously difficult to tell a friend or relative that something costs too much. The embarrassment seems to rank right up there with public speaking or asking them about their sexual preferences.
So how are people supposed to cope with the demands of love and the role of money in their lives? I don’t know. If you do, please share your advice with a comment.
In the meantime I’d better start saving some more money. I’d hate to have to miss my children’s weddings because I can’t afford to attend!