Another good reason to stay married? It’s financially beneficial. Although money troubles strain marital relationships, it’s easier to weather bad economic times when you’re married for the following reasons:
1. Divorce is expensive. Court and attorney fees can reach around $30,000 and up. Even if the divorce is amicable and uncontested, if you have property or children, you’ll need additional adjudicating to spell out the arrangements.
2. Splitting assets—or debts—cuts in half your financial portfolio (savings, investments, etc.) If you own businesses or if there are disagreements about the financial details, attorney fees also increase.
3. You lose out on each other’s income earning or income saving potential. Even if one spouse does not work outside the home, the cost savings provided by the stay-at-home spouse will be lost, namely in the areas of child care, transportation, and household maintenance/cleaning.
4. You also miss out on tax benefits for married couples, including child care, education, and housing deductions.
5. Other living costs may go up as a single. Health and car insurance, for example, tend to be lower for marrieds.
6. You may need to pay spousal and child support if you divorce, regardless of your gender.
7. Living costs--clothing and personal maintenance, in particular—tend to be higher for the unmarried person.
In addition, married people enjoy more low-cost or at-home entertainment when compared to singles who feel compelled to go out to meet others. Married couples hunker down and pinch pennies during tough times because they view their efforts as a way to help the family survive. Often the simpler times of staying in together are just as enjoyable as a night on the town because couples still have the pleasure of each other’s company while being single and staying in can feel lonely after a while.
Does this mean you should stay in a bad marriage? No. But it does give you more incentive to put effort into working things out. Banding together is bonding. Set a joint financial goal (be sure it is one that is mutually agreed upon) and work together to reach it. Celebrate your victory when you achieve it. If you have marital problems, address them diligently instead of taking the easy way out and scrapping the relationship. Without addressing the problems, chances are, you’ll both wind up being attracted to other people with the same issues anyway. You’ll find that everyone—including ourselves--comes with his own baggage, and you’ll be happier when you accept that.
Having faced recessions in the past, I know that as long as we’re together, my husband and I can make it through any financial challenge. Times like these remind us of what is important in life and what brings true joy: each other.