Some of you know that I always listen to NPR, especially in the car. I heard the end of Marketplace Money the other day, hosted byTess Vigeland and Chris Farrell, but only caught a brief piece of the show. I tried to search the schedule when I got home so I could listen to the whole thing, but had no luck. Something about it, though, hit me in a negative way. The program was about finances and interviewed Americans who felt they were doing worse than last year. There were people who had moved from New York to L.A. and were surprised to find they did not have the same tax deductions on their state returns that they used to. There were people who found that they wasted money on everyday items and were shocked to learn how much they had spent over a year’s time.
There was also considerable discussion on how newly single folks can find it so much more costly to live if they have been separated or divorced. Tax disadvantages were mentioned, the higher cost of travel for one, rather than for two, maintaining separate residences, splitting up retirement funds, maintaining separate health insurance policies, etc.
There was a comment made about this last group that was perhaps said tongue in cheek, but quite honestly, I am not so sure. They stated that maybe you should think more seriously about hanging on to the one you’re with, whether or not you’re happy. It might be a better bet financially.
Now I know I am not being totally fair because I didn’t hear the entire show, and also was thinking about something else and not giving it my full attention until this part piqued my interest. but frankly, I couldn’t quite believe my ears. I am not either pro or anti-divorce. I am very much in favor of people working at important relationships of any kind and trying to resolve problems and improve things, before throwing in the towel. Sometimes people just need to end things and to leave the past behind so that they can move on to new and better places.
The conclusion of the segment may have been intended to be humorous, but it was thrown out in a flip sort of manner. It came across as a tip for those considering getting out of coupled relationships. It was suggested that maybe they should consider the financial implications above other factors, and that perhaps the one you are with isn’t so bad after all!
I know that historically, some women have been economically dependent and couldn’t easily afford to extricate themselves from unworkable, or even sometimes seriously dysfunctional and dangerous relationships. Sadly there are still women in such circumstances. This was not the group the program was speaking about. The target audience was those who could afford to travel, to book hotels, to go on cruises, who have amassed considerable sums in their pension plans, etc.
I would hate to believe that there are many folks out there who would choose financial comfort (I am not even referring to security) and who would opt to stay in a relationship that wasn’t right perhaps for either of them, that didn’t make them happy, but that gave them greater tax advantages and the ability to rent hotel rooms more cheaply.
I did ask a few people I know if they would ever analyze their tax status and the other financial benefits first before making the decision that they had to end a marriage. They all answered that they might think about that aspect, but that it would absolutely not be the basis for such a decision. Maybe I don’t move in the “right” circles.
What about you? If you had done everything possible to improve or even salvage a dying marriage, but nothing worked and you were just miserable, and your partner was too, would you say, “Wait a minute, let’s sit down down and put this all out on paper first.”? Would you consider staying in a difficult or joyless situation and “hanging on to the one you’ve got” just because life would be easier and more financially advantageous?
Are money and financial perks truly at the root of all of this? Or are there really people who have come to settle for the status quo, or even for misery, because they have convinced themselves that having a comfortable life with enough money is a substitute for happiness, compatibility and satisfaction, and is enough for them, or maybe all they truly deserve?