I have met the most amazing man. I always like to say it’s too bad that Jerry Lee no longer feels Harley is worth the money he has to pay me each month. In my case, the mobster is worth giving up that money. And yet… I still hesitate. He says over and over again that we could build a beautiful life together, free from Jerry Lee’s money. Realistically though? Together I think we could do really well for ourselves, especially once neither of us has full-time kids to consider. If he decided to leave me, or for some reason I left him, he would be fine. He could make it on his own; he already is. We’ve discussed this before and he admits that his wife walking out the door didn’t affect his life financially, not the way Jerry Lee walking out on me had on mine. He still lives in the same house. He still has enough money to pay his bills. He went through a brief spell where he worried about losing his house but he refinanced and ultimately picked up several additional stops on his route; he’s actually doing better now than he was when he was with her. His job pays him enough that he wouldn’t be reliant on me. I, on the other hand, would be screwed if he ever decided to leave me. I’d have to sell off a house, sell my possessions, and move back in with my mom. There would be no spousal support to fall back on this time. I would have the meager paycheck I get from my full-time job and that would be it. I don’t make enough money at this job to pay a mortgage, even in the bad neighborhoods. There’s no way I could buy him out of our house. There’s no way I could buy another house, or even afford rent.
I’ve told the story before of the woman (let’s call her Mandy) who was so proud of the fact that she would not buy anything that she alone could not afford, even though she was married. The house they bought? She could pay the mortgage on it by herself if it came to that. She paid her car payment. For many years they split utilities and food. She was very, very proud of the fact that if her husband disappeared tomorrow it wouldn’t affect her financially.
When I first heard this I thought, “Wow! How incredibly sad. What an awful way to live when you’re married.” Then I got divorced and lost everything and I thought, “Wow! She is the smartest woman in the world!”
Here’s where it gets interesting. She and her husband divorced. She let him keep the house; she moved into a luxury apartment. Everything should be fine for her, right? Well, it wasn’t so much that she couldn’t do it on her own. She did, however, come to find out that paying for your own insurance can really suck. Despite all of her bravado over doing it all on her own, or being able to if she had to, she never factored in that her husband covered her and her son on his insurance. She was self-employed. She quickly tired of paying out a bunch of money for coverage.
A year or so after her divorce she ran into an old boyfriend. Keep in mind, this is a woman who swore she would never remarry if things didn’t work out between her and her husband. Hey, we all say things we don’t mean, right? Look at me! I said I would never date again. We also tend to find that we change our minds once a little time and distance has passed. Lo and behold they are talking marriage. Funny thing is she made mention of the fact that she didn’t think she would ever marry again but he had great insurance, and while she was able to meet her bills and her thrills with what she makes, she hadn’t put much away for retirement. You may have guessed it already. This guy has a lovely retirement portfolio as well. I’m not reading anything into this. She actually came right out and said, “I didn’t ever intend to get married again but I’m self-employed and paying for self coverage sucks; he’s got great insurance and he’ll put me on it. I also don’t have much saved for retirement and he does.” I’m sure that in the years to come she will still be congratulating herself on making it on her own and always being able to pull her own weight. When she’s living a comfortable retirement I have no doubt she will go on and on about all of her hard work and her efforts while ignoring the fact that she latched onto someone who could help her in the areas where she lacked.
What it comes down to is this: Marriage, with its benefits and its pitfalls, is a complicated beast. I really don’t know where I stand on this issue anymore. It’s easy to say, “I don’t want to buy anything that I can’t afford on my own,” but actually doing that is a lot more difficult. I know I want to be financially independent but is anyone who gets married really financially independent?