I freely admit I got badly burned. I barely made it through the first time. I don’t think I could take losing everything all over a second time. Financial independence is a must for me. I’m willing to downsize; I’m not willing to be homeless if I don’t live with my mom or someone else. I know that’s ironic considering I’m still reliant on spousal support, but if I remarry or live with someone I have to give that up. The spousal support I receive now gives me financial independence in my relationship with the mobster. I can afford to buy my kids things they need and want because of that money. I don’t have to ask the mobster for it. If I want to go somewhere or I want to buy something, I can do that. I am not reliant upon the mobster for it. Ultimately though I want to be financially independent even if there is no spousal support. Quite honestly, I would love to make more money than the mobster. He jokes about me being his sugar mama. I would love to be in that position.
I keep going back and forth. Is it important to be able to do it on your own? Yes, I think it is. Do you have more buying power when there are two of you? Yes, I think you do. How do you merge those two? That is the million dollar question. Maybe it comes down to not buying anything tangible that you cannot afford on your own but being willing to co-mingle money when it comes to the intangibles. Maybe. I don’t know. What I do know is I have no desire to lose everything all over again, and it seems like two becoming one is the surest way to do that.
Maybe the real trick is to make sure marriage benefits both of you. Hell, even looking back at my own marriage I could see that it benefited both of us.
I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home with my kids. That was my main benefit. I got to do all kinds of amazing things with them and I was very involved with their school. I’m sure there are many working women who can say the same. I’m not one of them. It’s like I told Picasso not that long ago, “I used to be a good mom.” I don’t have the time to devote to them. Period.
I also had 100% access to his paycheck. I could book tickets to fly back to Utah. I could pay for gymnastics for my daughter. I could pay for hockey for my son. I could buy them whatever they needed and plenty of it. I could also buy them most of what they wanted. I didn’t have to worry about money, and I never had to ask either. I was free to do whatever I wanted with it within reason.
As for him, he was able to climb the corporate ladder. He was able to make an excellent salary, far more than I will ever be able to earn. He never had to wash a dish, do a load of laundry, pick up a kid from school, take a day off work because a child was sick, run kids around for activities, make a meal, or even fix his own plate or put his own clothes away. He never had to worry about trying to juggle working full-time with raising his kids because I was at home taking care of everything.
Obviously, the benefits were lop-sided, and he ultimately benefited a hell of a lot more than me in the end.
Perhaps the real indictment is against ever being a stay at home parent. I had nothing of my own to financially contribute. The entire financial burden was carried by someone else. Everything I had was paid for by someone else. And then- POOF- it all went away. Maybe if we had been bigger savers the hit might not have been so bad; there could have been money in savings to split- if he didn’t blow it all on Harley first. If our house didn’t go into foreclosure when he lost his job, or if he hadn’t walked out one fucking year after we bought the damn thing maybe we could have sold it and I would have had a little bit of money to sock away. Shit, I had over $10,000 socked away at the time he lost his job. If he’d kept working none of the bullshit that happened would have happened. I probably could have kept the house, even though it wouldn’t have been a prudent financial decision. My kids wouldn’t have been uprooted. I would have had a $10,000 head start in regards to my divorce.
It’s easy to blame it all on staying at home but even in the prior examples those people are taking risks. My best friend is earning a third less than what she could be and the longer she stays out of private practice the harder it will be to build up her practice again. My cousin might very well not find another job as great as the one she left behind to “take care of herself”. My co-worker could find that she’s no longer being considered for promotion because she no longer wishes to work full-time. All of those decisions require taking a risk and placing your faith in the person you’ve chosen to trust and share your life with.
Not to mention even if you’re both working you’re getting something out of being married in most instances. I make $100; you make $100. Together we make $200. Twice the money to put into savings, put towards vacations, pay household bills, raise children. I know it doesn’t work that way all of the time, but in a lot of cases it does.
Maybe another answer is this. Be able to be self-sufficient. Earn enough money to be able to pay a mortgage on your own. Be able to afford your car payment. Be able to fund your retirement and put money into savings. But if this marriage truly benefits both of you then you’ll both lose something if the marriage ends.
Perhaps that would be the difference this time around. If I make $35,000 and the mobster makes $65,000 and we bought a house based on what we make combined, then it doesn’t matter if I can’t afford the house payment on my own; he couldn’t either. When I was married I could afford nothing and Jerry Lee could afford everything because I had no job. Maybe this time around I’ll be the one providing the insurance and contributing a good chunk of the retirement funds. After all, there was a period of time in the beginning of our marriage where both Jerry Lee and I worked. Our combined income didn’t come close to what he eventually made but we were young and had no children either. We didn’t stress about money. One paycheck covered our bills nicely and the other paycheck allowed us the freedom to go out, buy gifts, and do all of the little extras. It was a team back then. Honestly, I think we were much happier back then, back when we both worked. Him being the sole provider meant an immediate power imbalance. As much as I miss my free time and the ability to get shit done in the middle of the week I know I will never go back to that.
I don’t know why I puzzle over this so much. Even in this woman’s story, when it comes right down to it, she’s going to marry again- for financial reasons. It doesn’t matter that she can pay her rent, or that she refused to buy a home with her husband that she alone could not pay the mortgage on. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t rely on her ex’s $250 a month for child support. It doesn’t matter that she could support the family when her husband was out of work for a few months. It doesn’t even matter if she continues this mindset with the new husband, refusing to live in a house she alone cannot pay for, refusing to take on any bills she can’t cover. She doesn’t have a well funded retirement and she doesn’t like paying out hundreds of dollars a month for insurance. So she’s getting remarried. She’s teaming up with someone else. Where she falters, he will help her. She can continue to pat herself on the back for being self-sufficient and doing it all on her own, but in the end… she’s not doing it all by herself. She needed help and she’s going to get it- by getting married.