Sittin’ In a Tree…..

So-and-So and So-and-So,
Sitting in a tree,
First comes love,
Then comes marriage,
Then comes the baby in a baby carriage.

Remember the days when that was the insult of all insults on the playground.  Even if you really did like the other person they paired you with, you certainly weren’t going to admit you liked them, let alone KISSING them!  Horror of horrors!

And then we got older.  I won’t say we grew up, because I think we’ve all done some dumb things in the name of love.  But we all did get older.  Suddenly the sound of kissing, marriage, and even kids doesn’t sound so bad.  After all, that’s what big people do, right?

Once you’ve been through it, I think most of us would agree that you are never quite totally ready for any of those things.  But we can be better prepared.  As a part of our New Beginnings series on social media, here are a couple of huge new beginnings that can be serious stressors on any relationship.

Love and marriage – Significant others are expensive.  Therehappy couple are the dates and the gifts and the time and the trips.  There are the invitations and the ceremony and the reception and more gifts.  Sure, some people really can make all of that happen on a smaller budget.  But we ARE going to be spending money.  It’s just what we Americans typically do.

Then the baby carriage – And you thought love and marriage were expensive?  We are ready to get braces for my daughter’s teeth.  That’s $4,300 out-of-pocket over the next two years.  Then she came home with a letter that she has been invited to go on a school trip to Washington D.C. at a cost of $1,800 dollars.  Oh yeah, March is birthday month in our house so there will be birthday gifts for both kids.  And we are working on plans for summer care and camps and trips…..

It’s no wonder that money issues are consistently near the top of the list of reasons why marriages don’t work out.  It’s usually right there behind infidelity.  It impacts so many things and there are so many ways to approach handling of money.

So let’s take a look at the way some people approach money challenges:

Your checkbook, my checkbook – Well, except research has found that couples who keep separate finances have a markedly higher rate of divorce.  It’s not specifically the separate finances that are the cause, but more why are they keeping separate finances?  To hide expenses?  Lack of trust?  Lack of commitment?  The separate finances are a symptom of deeper issues that will challenge any marriage.

couple fightingFine then, I’ll just stay out of it – Uh, no.  If you are both involved in managing the finances, it eliminates the argument of “Well, I didn’t know it was a problem!”  I get it.  My wife carries the checkbook in our house.  But we both work together every week to balance the account and pay bills.  Even involve your kids in some of the decisions.  If you don’t teach them, who will?  And then, God forbid, the worst happens.  You lose your spouse and now have to figure everything out on your own while grieving…..

We’ll figure it out when we are more stable – But if you don’t come up with a plan now, are you ever really going to reach stability.  No, you may not be able to fix everything now, but start on something, anything.  Even something as simple as tracking every penny of your spending can make a big difference.  You may not even change anything based on your tracking, but at least you know where you might have room to adjust should you need to.

Help is on the way – A lot of couples go through counseling together.  General relationship counseling.  Premarital counseling.  Individually.  As a couple.  But have you ever thought about sitting with a credit counselor for a session or two as a part of building this new relationship?  It’s not that anything is even wrong.  Rather, that counselor can provide some structure and talking points to help the two of you come together in a more perfect union, financially speaking.

If you would like some help, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources would be happy to help.  You can schedule an appointment either online or by calling us at 605-330-2700.  Trust me, our counselors have seen just about everything.  They would be happy to help a couple before it reaches absolute crisis.



written by Breck Miller
images courtesy

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