Many of my clients are married. Each person brings into the marriage certain values, beliefs, and behaviors that, initially, are very attractive to the other. For example, it is quite common for one spouse to be a “saver” type and the other to be a “spender” type. The saver provides stability, security and discipline to the spender, and the spender brings spontaneity and zest to the life of the saver. This yin yang in a relationship provides balance and, if recognized and respected (and kept in check), can provide financial harmony to the couple.
This scenario seldom plays out in a positive way after the honeymoon’s over. The saver’s discipline feels restrictive and the spender’s carefree ways cause concern about squandering the couple’s assets. Both cause resentment. In a marriage that is faced with financial troubles, the couple has some choices: reduce spending, increase income, or both. Preferably the couple can come to terms on these solutions as a united front with similar goals; the family unit’s financial survival, stability, and growth.
Caution: two of the three “taboo” topics are covered here – money & politics. Maybe I’ll throw in some religion just for fun.
This same situation is playing out in the US right now. The spender has spent too much and racked up too much debt, and the saver is unwilling to increase revenues (in the personal sense, this means getting a second -or third- job and earning more through appropriate investments; politically it means increasing taxes). If our country was a married couple (saver= republican, spender=democrat), no one would be willing to lend any more money to the couple unless they charged the couple a lot more interest to make the risk worthwhile. The couple needs to decrease spending, however painful that may be, earn more money to pay off their debts, and start on a savings program to avoid reliving this mess in the future.
Oftentimes money is the cause of significant stress in a relationship and, when the couple cannot find a solution, their unity becomes disunity and they divorce. Our congressional representatives are in this same power struggle; we all want the financial viability of our country but some refuse to compromise even a little to make it happen. I think it is quite selfish for politicians to be overly concerned about their careers to put our beloved country’s finances at risk. The ramifications of this debt ceiling crisis are huge; if not handled properly, it could mean drastic economic effects that will be felt by all; political affiliations provide no safe haven from financial ruin any more than they provide protection from disease. I wonder if the politician’s employer (America) goes bankrupt, will s/he be out of a job just like any other employee whose employer faces these same financial struggles? Something to ponder.
Perhaps our leaders need to go to financial marriage counseling to get on the same page. But remember, they are representing their constituents and many believe that by drawing a line in the sand that they are representing their constituents well. Do you think this is so? The problem can only be fixed when both parties are willing to meet eachother half-way and do the hard work for which they’ve been chosen. Isn’t this the meaning of “United”?