Part Four on Money and Marriage: Accountability in Marriage – Save Me from My Stupidity…Please!

by | Sep 16, 2010

In our recent blogs we’ve been looking at married couples who succeed with money and it turns out if you do a few certain things consistently over time, that money adds up.

Consistently, over time. This is a good thing to keep in mind. Life is made up of little 15-second snippets of time, little decisions, and sooner or later you can see the overall direction of your life. If you are a wee bit cynical, you might think that I’m touting these wealthy folk just a tad too much or that I’m preoccupied with money or something. My goal is not to make you rich. Frankly, I’d rather see you in heaven than in a new BMW. No, my goal has always, simply been:

If you are going to be married, you may as well enjoy the journey.

There just happens to be tons of people who don’t enjoy their marriages.

A lot of them get divorced.

Which, is the quickest and fastest and most common cause of poverty in America.

Meth will cause it, too, no doubt, but a sure fire way to be broke is to get a divorce. It’ll take you years, sometimes decades, to recover. Maybe we should even admit, that divorce will effect the monetary status of our children. On his blog, Dr. Stanley wrote, that in his research, 89% of first generation millionaires (they earned it; it wasn’t handed down to them) were raised by parents who never divorced! And you keep telling yourself that if you divorce your kids will be fine. Yeah, right.

So after these people divorce, they panic and marry the first nice person that comes along who’s got a job, because in our society today most single parent families can’t survive on one salary and there’s these kids to feed and…

At least they can pay their bills now. For a couple of years. And then the new person with the job turns out to be a worse jerk than spouse number 1 and soon spouse number 2 becomes former spouse number 2 and so on and so on. Do that a couple of times and your life will be over and you’ll die broke.

The bottom line is that married people do better than single people, divorced people and cohabiting people on every conceivable way that you can measure well being including money.

One of the easiest things to measure is money. You can add it up. It would be difficult to determine if someone was happy about his money or his marriage or anything else for that matter, but you can add up money. It’s quantifiable.

Turns out that married people have more money when they die. Period. Than single people, divorced people or cohabiting people.

Why is that? Because, in those 15 second snippets of time, they make better choices. They have a built in checks and balance system. They have someone to bounce things off of. Hey, whadathink about this? Whatdayathink about that? How come you bought that? We can’t afford that. They have someone there to challenge them when they are totally stupid. There’s a we here, you know. Sometimes that can be totally irritating, but over time it adds up to better choices and better choices add up to a better life and when you die you can add up all your better choices and see. Dang. There it is. In black and white. Right there on the bottom line.

Contrast a single person. If you are single, one of your biggest struggles financially is going to be making right choices about money. Millionaire single people are rare, rare, rare. In Stanley’s study (We’ve been looking at his book, The Millionaire Mind), only 2 percent of the millionaires were single! TWO PERCENT! Here’s the quote. It’ll blow you away:

A large majority (92 percent) of millionaires are married. Only 2 percent have never married, and about 2 percent are divorced or separated. The rest are widowed (p. 23.).

Are you kidding?Now maybe the reason only 2 percent of the millionaires were single is because of sample selection on Stanley’s part.He sent the survey out to people in neighborhoods known to contain millionaires.He was pretty good in his sample selection.In the over 5000 surveys he sent out, and the over 1000 that were returned, over 700 of them were millionaires.All of us should be so lucky to hit 70% in anything.But, you know, maybe, millionaire single people don’t live in millionaire neighborhoods.So, if you were going to sample millionaire single people where would you look?Where do millionaire single people live?Ah, well, ah.

There’s no such thing. Because there’s not enough of them.

So, if you are a single person and would like to have some money someday, it is critical that you have an accountability partner to talk with about your impulses to spend your money here and there so that you make wise decisions over time.Left to yourself, you will more likely piss it all away.This isn’t a judgment on single people.It’s just a reality that all of us, married or not, left to ourselves, will make some unwise decisions, that could, over time, really mess up our lives.

As Solomon said, a wise man seeks advice; a fool rushes headlong to destruction. He ought to know. He was the wisest man who ever lived.  In marriage we have a built in, full-time reality check.

Turns out that most wealthy people are married and they seek advice from their very smart spouses.If you are a wise single person, you’ll find a wise accountability partner to help you keep your money decisions in check.

But, sadly, most single people are too worried about having fun and so they don’t have much to show for all their hard work. This kind of behavior produces impatience. Patience would be good for single people, because if you want to get married someday, the best marriages are going to be made up of patient people, but if you are too busy having fun as a single person and doing what you want when you want, when you get married, you will end up being an impatient spouse because you never learned patience when you were single. Kapish? Patience and marital success and financial success are intertwined.

Consider your chances of being a millionaire if you are cohabiting. Forget about having money. Did you see that quote above about 92% of millionaires being married, 2% never married, 2 percent are divorced or separated and the rest are widows? Cohabitation doesn’t even show up! Unless some of the cohabiting people put on the survey that they were single! Cohabiting couples are MISSING from millionaire neighborhoods. Why would that be?

Millionaires are patient.Millionaires put off pleasure now for a future goal.Cohabiting people want what they want when they want it and they want it NOW.You are not worth waiting for.We’re broke so we’ll share the rent.What a crock of crap.You train each other to be roommates and impatient and they end up having no idea how to be married.

The number one definition of love in the world is:

Love is Patient.

Period.

Cohabiting couples are impatient.

Patience adds up in a lifetime. You reap what you sow.

Impatience adds up over a lifetime, too. To diddly squat. Zilch. Nada.

The longer you cohabit the more money problems you will have and the more likely it will be that you will break up on the one hand or be miserable on the other. You can’t build a marriage and sharing the rent. Marriage is not sharing the rent. Marriage is for a lifetime. WE pay OUR rent with OUR money that WE earned for OUR lifetime TOGETHER that’s in OUR bank account that WE look at and that WE discuss and WE plan and WE dream about TOGETHER.

If your partner isn’t worth waiting for then he or she is not worth marrying.

And neither are you.

Cohabiting people instinctively know this. And so they doubt each others’ integrity. They are each living with the other for nothing. They aren’t married right? So what are they? They don’t know. They play married, but not really. They each protect their own private butt. And they are suspicious of each others’ motives. And they point fingers. And they are easily hurt and offended. And money issues keep cropping up. I’m paying the mortgage. My name’s not even on the mortgage. You don’t pay any of it. I bought the washer and drier. I had to beg for that. But I’m paying the utilities. That ain’t nothing. But I pay for most of the groceries. I don’t even eat half the crap you buy. But you earn more, so need to pay more than me. I’m already paying the same percentage as you. So. You have more money than me left at the end of the month cuz you earn more and you blow it and meanwhile I have nothing. Don’t tell me what to do with my money. It’s my money and I won’t have anyone telling me what to do with it. I’m broke all the time and you never share any of it with me. You’re so selfish. Don’t start with me…

And so on and so on. And then they get married and live the same way because they are used to this roommate deal and they keep their money separate even though they are married because they don’t trust each other because they lived with each other for nothing and they wake up 40 years later completely broke.

Back to marriage: Certainly, there are broke married people. Maybe you’ve been one of those a long time and, frankly, you are sick of it. And so is your spouse. And so, you are doing something about it. And someday you won’t be one of those broke married people any more. But it takes time. And it takes teamwork. And it takes commitment. And it takes fortitude. And it takes self-control. And it takes wisdom. And it takes accountability. And it takes honesty. And it takes hard work.

Turns out, all of that is worth it.

And over time it all adds up.

On the bottom line.

And no, I’m not suggesting we worship money.God is much bigger than money.It just happens to turn out that if you don’t spend all of your money, you will have some someday.

HMMM.

Dr. Bing Wall

Dr. Bing Wall

Dr. Bing Wall is a marriage therapist with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa. To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473.

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