General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Why would you not get married until you have enough money?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19026points) November 30th, 2010

I was reading an article in Time, and it mentioned “So, people are living together because they don’t have enough money to live alone, but they aren’t going to get married until they have enough money.”

What’s the logic behind the wait until you have enough money? All of my concerns regarding marriage are of a totally different nature, so this is totally foreign to me.

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48 Answers

gorillapaws's avatar

I suspect that married life is hard enough without having to add in the stress of financial hardship. I’m a planner, so I wouldn’t propose to a woman until I knew we could afford it. Same with children. Then again, if the woman of my dreams came along, I might throw caution to the wind and do something more reckless/spontaneous.

wundayatta's avatar

Marriage has traditionally been an economic institution, and even though we have love relationships now, it’s still an economic relationship. So people believe they shouldn’t get married until they can support each other, or support a baby or buy a house or something.

The notion of marrying with nothing is either a romantic notion or something that can be afforded only by people who have nothing and no prospects of getting anything. Although, they often don’t bother to get married. The largest percent of couples who live together without being married are from the lowest income levels.

I think it’s an instinct. Official relationships are for those who can afford them.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t understand this either. I think it might be based on false economic expectations: like wanting a huge wedding and being able to pay for it or not getting married until you can afford a $500,000 house.

Those are things that I don’t think have anything to do with marriage.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@gorillapaws In what ways is marriage hard that cohabitation isn’t?

Summum's avatar

Doesn’t make sense if they are living together anywhy? What other new expenses would they have if they got married other than the marriage itself? If fact taxes might be better for them if they get married.

Blackberry's avatar

Marriage costs money…...weddings, rings, the gamble of one person wanting a joint account so they can access your money whenever they want, legal fees and potential alimony in the event of a divorce etc etc.

Facade's avatar

Maybe it has something to do with wanting a sense of comfortability in finances before making that commitment.

On a more personal note, I’m still utilizing the help of my parents in a lot of areas which would cost me money if I got married. I doubt they’d keep paying for my car insurance, cell phone, etc. if I got married. I’m also under my dad’s health insurance, and finding a job which would afford me the same benefits would be difficult.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Facade Would they actually cost more money, or you wouldn’t have your parents to pay for it?

Summum's avatar


Great explanation maybe I can understand waiting sometimes. Thanks

gorillapaws's avatar

@papayalily I’ve never been married, so my perspective is limited. From what I’ve seen, with marriage you are completely locked in for life to a certain person. You inherit their credit, debt, family etc. Getting a divorce seems like such a nightmare. When you’re cohabiting, you can always walk away if the relationship goes south with much less baggage/frustration. This translates into stress in the sense that the stakes are always higher when you get in a fight, everything is ratcheted up a notch or two financially, emotionally, etc.

Summum's avatar

If you cohabit long enough it is called common law marriage and the spouse can press the issue.

Seelix's avatar

I would imagine that they mean that they don’t have enough money for a wedding. I don’t think there are any regular expenses for a married couple that cohabitating (or common-law) couples don’t have.

JLeslie's avatar

The same reason people wait to feel financially secure before having a baby—responsibility. Especially men might feel that they want to be able to support the couple’s needs, even if they still assume both will be working, and they need both salaries, just his overall feeling of being responsible financially.

Facade's avatar

@papayalily Those things would begin to cost me money that I am not currently spending on them.
@Summum Sure thing

JLeslie's avatar

@Seelix Usually the parents pay for the wedding, or at least the majority of it.

Seelix's avatar

@JLeslie – I know that it’s traditional for the parents to contribute to the cost of the wedding, but it’s becoming more common (at least among the people I know) for couples to pay for it themselves. My sister, for example, is planning for her and her fiance to pay for everything themselves. I guess I just don’t really see how marriage the institution (as opposed to marriage the event) costs more.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seelix I just doubt an article about marriage is about paying for a wedding, but I could be wrong. I don’t think it has anything to do with marriage costing more, it is about feeling financially indepent and responsibility in my opinion. Kind of a combination of what @facade and I wrote. At least that is what I think. I guess it would be good to be able to read the whole Time magazine article. Of course if the couple is saving to pay for a wedding that makes sense, but I would assume it is more than that, or the article would state that, but the sentence is about marriage in the Q. Most people I know the parents still pay for the party, if not all, then at least a portion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I feel like people have this sense that most marriages break up because of financial issues and that marriages are for adults (which means financial stability in some idealized la-la land) and that if you enter into a marriage, you should at least be financially stable so that in case you have children, you’re able to support them and in case you get a divorce, you’re able to support yourself.

john65pennington's avatar

If the majority of the population waited until they had enough money, preachers would be homeless.

Is there ever enough money? no. this is why couples make the plunge and pray for the best.

downtide's avatar

Because most people want a good wedding, at least a memorable one if not a big one. There’s the dress, the rings, the party, catering for the guests and so on. It adds up to a very expensive day. If all the couple’s income goes on the house and day-to-day bills, who’s going to pay for it all? The bride’s father?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie @Seelix The article is more about how marriage has changed over time. The wedding isn’t mentioned – although, I do agree with Seelix that it’s becoming much more common for people to pay for it themselves (although that may be because of getting married later with more money and both people working, thus being able to pay for it themselves).

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir So then (if I’m understanding you correctly) the idea is that you should only be married if you have x amount of money?
I do think many (if not the majority) of marriages break up because of financial issues, but not because of a lack of money but rather tensions regarding it (ie spend or save, who’s the breadwinner, mine vs ours, etc).

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@downtide A lot of times, yes – especially if they’re young and poor.

hug_of_war's avatar

My parents had a lot of financial disagreements, and while not the only reason, was a contributing reason for their divorce. I don’t want kids or want a big wedding, but still for me to get married I have to have evidence we are financially stable and feel the same on money. Marriage is a huge commitment for me, because I am pledging to more than just the now but to a future together in a very concrete way, and marriage is harder and more expensive to get out of than breaking up.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@hug_of_war So then you are not committing to the future in a concrete way until marriage, correct?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@papayalily I think marriage is such a vague concept (in all actuality) that saying ’ I want financial stability first ’ gives people something to control and to use as an excuse to not get married.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I agree. I think maybe I could get on board with some versions of marriage, but everyone has such a different idea of what marriage is and should look like… It’s a freaking mess right now. For instance, I always thought the idea of marriage was to have someone to go though financial instability with, thus offering support and teamwork, instead of only for when you’re ready for a picket fence.

Blackberry's avatar

@papayalily “I always thought the idea of marriage was to have someone to go though financial instability with, thus offering support and teamwork, instead of only for when you’re ready for a picket fence.”

That sounds ideal, but some people have tried that and it backfired, so we feel we must only settle down again once we are more stable and able to recover from getting screwed over again lol.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Blackberry Hmm. But isn’t that more likely to be emotional instability that’s showcased and inflated due to the financial instability? Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t loose everything you worked to get before you got married, so if you loose it, does that mean you divorce?

Blackberry's avatar

@papayalily It is possible and true for some, and it is also possible that it is simply learning from a mistake; using better judgment the next time you may feel it is time to take that step again.

I was speaking of losing everything due to a bad marriage and/or the person you were with. Of course one shouldn’t divorce because they lost everything, but if they lost everything because their significant other deceived them, it’s normal to think twice about putting yourself in the same position.

snowberry's avatar

And just to put this in perspective, in third world countries many women are refusing to marry any man who won’t provide them with a home with running water. Now THAT just makes sense!

Sorry, I did a search, but could not find a reference for this, but I did read it in the news a while back.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@snowberry Well, that does make sense, but only in that environment, not this one. If I was still considered property, my criteria for a man would be drastically different than it is right now.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ve been chewing on this since it was posted, but isn’t tying marriage to material goods kind of odd?

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily I agree that getting married later in life might mean parents are less likely to foot the whole wedding bill. I also think maybe it has to do with social class? Not sure. I feel pretty sure Donald Trump and President Clinton paid for their daughters wedding. If I had children I would assume I would pay for a wedding, but it would be nice if the trend moved towards both the parents of the bride and groom split costs. That is done at times, sometimes the grooms parents pay for thr rehearsal dinner and the alcohol at the wedding. It is all up for negotiation in my opinion.

That article, I only skimmed it, talks about a lot of different things affecting who and why people get married. It said near the beginning people higher up in the socio-economic strata are more likely to marry. I did not notice whether it said that being married typically lrads to more wealth in general, which I read somewhere and makes perfect sense to me. I think a lot has to do with cultural norms within a persons social group also.

My husband did not propose to me until he felt secure in his job, and that we could confidently afford our life together. We were in our early 20’s. During the first few months of our courtship he had to quit his job, because his company decided they were no longer signing papers for immigrants to work for them. Meaning the only way he could stay in US was for a company to help get a valid work visa. For me, that he wanted to feel comfortable with his status here, and that he liked his job, made a decent income, and felt he had a future with the company before he wanted to entagle me into his life shows great integrity.

JustJessica's avatar

The question is… What is enough money? Do we ever have enough money? If you wait until you have “enough” money, you could be waiting forever.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie It originally says that upper-class, college grads are more likely to marry, but then it seems to say the exact opposite towards the last 4th of the article.
I think it may depend quite a lot on how much the parents can afford it, and how much the kids can afford it. The Clintons and Trumps definitely could – neither are going to a crappier retirement home despite footing the wedding bill. But more middle class? Paying for a wedding could mean not redoing parts of the house so you can stay there instead of going to a nursing home or not taking that trip to Europe you always talked about doing when you first got married, and have been saving up for years.

How were you not entangled in his life before marriage that you then did become entangled in after marriage?

gorillapaws's avatar

@JustJessica “enough money” to me means being able to live in a house, make my mortgage and living expenses and put some extra away each month. It also means having a “rainy-day” fund so you both can survive for several months if you lost a job or had something else come up. I would feel comfortable proposing if we didn’t have the money for the wedding, but would expect the engagement period to involve squirreling away until we could afford the wedding (whether her parents were going to pay for it, or split it with mine, or if we were going to do it on our own).

JustJessica's avatar

@gorillapaws Good point, but also acquiring these things together as a couple, might make for a stronger union.

If you were where you were comfortable to get married and the woman you were madly in love with wasn’t quite as secure financially would you not marry her because of this?

gorillapaws's avatar

@JustJessica it might have to do with why she wasn’t very financially secure. If she was fiscally irresponsible, then that would be a big concern, and I would probably want to save the money together before getting married just to be sure we could be financially responsible together. If she was responsible, but suffered a major setback at some point, then it would probably be less of an issue. Also, they don’t call it “madly” in love because it obeys rational analysis, so until I’m there, I really can’t say anything for certain.

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily I should have specified that we did not live together until after we became engaged. Basically because my lease wa up, and it seemed ridiculous to keep paying my own rent. I guess my husband took a little farther than what is in the article, we were not even living together until he felt financially together.

I think the middle class still assumes they will do something for their children so they can have a wedding. My parents gave me $10k to with what I want for my wedding. I could “elope” or have a very small ceremony, and use the money for a honeymoon and savings for the future (my dad preferred that suggestion as a practical matter), or make a party within that amount, or spend more and pay the balance myself. I did the spend more and pay some on my own.

@gorillapaws @JustJessica For me I don’t think you need to have a house and mortgage to feel you have enough money. For me it is that you have some savings, reasonable or no debt. If someone is renting it would not bother me, especially if they are in their 20’s.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie That does clear a lot up. I can totally see not being a part of certain parts of his life when not living together. Less so when you’ve been living together for 5 years – what does the ceremony change at that point?

@gorillapaws @JustJessica @JLeslie Especially in this market. Part of the reason we’re in this mess is that we touted the idea that in order to really be an adult, you have to buy not rent.

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily Well, my family is from NY, my grandma never owned her apartment, and neither does my aunt. Probably a huge percentage of NYC does not own.

About your comment that nothing much changes from living together to being married. I kind of disagree, I think the marriage committment makes a difference. There was a fluther question about it recently, can’t remember the exact question, but all I can tell you is that most people I know who have been married for a while feel it is different being married. Usually it is people who have never been married who think it is the same and they don’t need or see why a piece of paper makes a difference. It has nothing to do with morality for me, I was raised by a father who told me he thinks it is better to live with someone before marrying them. I didn’t have any strict rules demanded of me to wait until marriage, can’t live together, etc.

Also, marriage is different because civil marriage has laws governing your money as a couple. Civil marriage is a legal contract that basically sees the two of you as a single unit under the law.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie That was my question. But it’s also… marriage is different between the generations. I can totally understand how marriage would be different for my grandmother or mom or even someone 15 years older than me than living together in a committed relationship. But the people my age? They get married so fast, and then get divorced so fast, it’s just hard for me to believe that marriage somehow makes things stick more – that’s not marriage, it’s the mindset of the people in it. I guess my main issue is that what makes I don’t understand what makes marriage different from a civil partnership, or people living together in a committed, monogamous relationship – or even people who aren’t living together or monogamous but have sat down and said that they want to be part of each other’s lives for the of their lives. Since we have all these stories of gay couples who are committed but not married going the distance, it leads me to believe that it’s not marriage itself but the commitment and maturity marriage (sometimes,maybe) includes.

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily I am not sure I mean marriage will make the relationship last longer, all I know is psychologically it feels different. I think it is likely impossible to know unless you have been married, and even in a marriage it takes a few years to really get the feeling I am talking about. The best I can explain it is my husband is like family at this point. Like a sister, parent, child, he simply is related to me, not just the person I am committed to.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Gadzooks, there is no reason to ”wait” if you are already living together. That is one of the oldest subterfuge bamboozling reasons in the book. What the couples are really saying is they don’t really trust and believe they are as solid as they are and want to have as few legal ties if they have to exercise their egress system to jettison the relationship. Marriage would mean having to take months and actually negotiating with the other whom you are splitting up with. To just shack up means you can pack your trash and go, barring any contracts or fiduciary agreements you and the spouse have to a 3rd party. The only major cost is the wedding itself and if you don’t care about how big it is or even if you have a ceremony it is so marginal as to be no more a burden than going on a cruise or trip somewhere. And you can’t use children because many who are not married in up having them planned and unplanned.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

We’re one of ‘Those Couples’. He’s got an ex and kids so I think he wants to become financially separated on any legal stuff before starting a new life as “us”. I want to secure my credit a bit more and not bring any old debts along to our joined legal status. I’m pretty sure he won’t officially propose until he has a paid-for ring in hand he’s sure I’ll like. Also, we both want to be able to afford to pay for a honeymoon up front instead of financing anything.

Once married we would have things to think about such as life insurances, family phone plans, joint auto insurances, joint health coverages if one has better than the other (or none at all). Lots of singles are living together but still getting financial help on the side from their relatives, getting married usually assumes that stops and the couple pools their resources together. I think a lot of people want to enter legal marriage with a “clean slate” of being debt free, collection free, bad credit free, school loan free, etc.

holli's avatar

I see no practical reason for marriage in the US in the current times. Some traditions are just not necessary any longer.

wenwen's avatar

If a couple is co-habiting and waiting until they have enough money to get married, sounds like they are planning on spending a lot on the ‘big day’ itself. Hey , it’s each to their own, and if thats what a person places importance on , well, thats fine.

Personally , I’m not a person for huge displays of my ‘wealth’ through weddings, parties etc.I’d rather have a ceremony and a small celebration with the people I love.

I once came across a girl who had spent £14,000 on her wedding dress, and two weeks after the wedding she was going to work in Portugal as a dancer for a year, and her hubby was staying in the UK during that time. I know couples sometimes live apart for work reasons, but her whole attitude towards the marriage was very relaxed. She wasn’t very bothered, and said she had just always wanted a fairytale wedding and it was all about the dress. Don’t know if she’s still married now, but from the way she talked about her hubby I wouldn’t think so.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that spending a lot of money on your wedding / engagment rings/ honeymoon etc doesn’t mean that you love the person any more than a couple who spend very little.
My parents have been married 42 years, they got married in a registry office , during a lunchtime, had a small buffet afterwards and then just got on with their lives! No debt, no huge saving for years before. And they are still together, living a lovely life.

Just so long as you are good to each other, and honest , and respectful you don’t need all that, you don’t even need to be married. It does seem a little old fashioned and unnecessary sometimes.

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