Some guys feel like they’ll never get married. They may want to, but they just can’t see it happening. Marriage is something that happens to other people — friends, brothers, sisters, classmates, co-workers — everyone but them. Ask them about tying the knot, and they smile feebly or laugh incredulously. They’d have a better chance of getting struck by lightening while working in a rubber factory.
But then one day it happens. Lightning strikes! They meet someone. Fall in love. Next thing you know they’re choosing between seafoam and sage for their wedding colors.
That was me. After packing zero dates into the five years after high school, the prospect of marriage seemed remote. Finding a wife felt more like trying to win a lottery — would have been nice, but the odds seemed stacked against me. With the way things were going I figured I’d be planning my funeral before I practiced saying my vows.
Then something strange happened. I met a beautiful, brilliant young woman. Mysteriously, she took pity on me. We dated. I proposed. One year later we were married, and we’ve been living in the “Happily Ever After” ever since.
But like any good fairy tale, mine had a dragon. Though married life was an adventurous odyssey, I soon found that the financial cost associated with marriage was a real Fire Breather. Looking back at my single days, I now realize that my attitude about marriage had a lot to do with being wildly unprepared when it actually arrived.
I would never recommend holding off on marriage until being set financially. Ask anyone — that “financially set” day may never come. But I do want to give some advice to single guys from my side of the marriage divide, advice I wished I would have heard long before I met my wife. Start saving for marriage now — even if you don’t have a prospective spouse. I know, I know. It sounds crazy. You may think marriage is far off or not in your future at all. But most guys do get married, and trust me: Your wedding day may be much closer than you think. By preparing financially now, you will be doing a huge favor, not only for your future wife, but yourself as well.
Let me explain.
During my stint as a bachelor, money wasn’t much of a problem. I worked full time and had minimal expenses. I still recall with bittersweet nostalgia the measly $375 I paid monthly for my studio apartment. At lunch I went to Taco Bell. For dinner I feasted on 99-cent Whoppers (remember those?) My furniture consisted of two torn and tattered chairs from my brother, a blowup couch, and a bed that my buddy found abandoned in a frat house. Yep, I was living the high life.
Sure, I was working an entry-level job and collecting a paltry salary. But I had enough money. Sometimes I had more than enough. So what did I do with the excess? Save? Give to charity? Get some real furniture and good food? Nope. I did what many young guys do. I spent every penny on totally superfluous things. What did I care? There was always another check coming. And I didn’t have to look out for anyone but myself. So I bought a Dodge Sport truck. I wore Diesel jeans. I vacationed in Maui. Saving for marriage was the furthest thing from my mind.
Soon I wished it hadn’t been. As I entered the fog of love, expenses the size of Mack trucks were barreling my way. Over a short six-month period they hit me dead on: Ring. Honeymoon. New apartment.
And that was just the beginning. After the wedding was over, the expenses kept coming at me full speed. My wife didn’t expect much, but it was clear some things would have to change. For one, she didn’t share my passion for fast food and insisted on these things called “three-course meals,” complete with terrible tasting (but expensive) fruits and vegetables. Suddenly I was spending more than just spare change on food. And her tyranny extended beyond the kitchen. She deflated my blow-up couch and tossed the old chairs. Of course my twin, frat-house bed was no longer going to cut it. We needed some furniture. To my surprise my wife wasn’t even impressed by the nicer items I’d thrown money at before we met. Early in our relationship, as we talked over dinner, I had asked her what she thought of my new truck. “I don’t remember,” she said. “Is it blue?”
She was even less thrilled about something else I brought into the marriage: a two-thousand-dollar balance on my credit card. When she pledged her love and faithfulness, she was getting more than just love and faithfulness in return.
Though we’ve cleared most of those early financial hurdles, it was a trying time. The learning curve was steep. If I could go back, my first priority would have been to have built a savings account. Having something put away would have reduced the tension and done wonders for our peace of mind.
But I hadn’t had the presence of mind to do that. And if my friends are any indication, I’m not alone. After a long bachelorhood, a longtime friend recently dated and married a girl in a relatively short period of time. Though he had made great money in his previous job, he spent most of it. Of course he had things to show for it: a cool car, a Rolex watch and probably the nicest wardrobe I’ve seen in a man’s possession. But in order to pursue the long-distance relationship, he ended up quitting his job and moving. Last time I talked with him, he was uncertain about the future, and money was getting tight. I’m sure if he could go back, he would have left that Rolex behind the store glass.
The strange thing about not preparing financially for marriage is that we go to all kinds of trouble to get ready for marriage in other ways. We hit the gym, tan and fuss in front of mirrors, all in hopes of attracting a mate. And not all measures we take are superficial. Many singles devour books about “finding the perfect partner” or how to detect when “he’s just not that into you.” Some even seek counseling to smooth the rough spots off their personalities. Though we go to such lengths, financial preparedness rarely enters our minds. This despite the fact that having some money socked away (more than a good tan or buffed body) is what can really make the early years of marriage more pleasant.
Saving for marriage isn’t just smart; it’s biblical, too. Part of the maturation process, especially for men, is becoming capable of providing for a partner and a family. The Bible has some sobering words about financial responsibility.
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8, NASB).
Becoming a good provider shouldn’t start after the confetti flies. Instead of seeing the single years as a sanctioned flight from fiscal responsibility, they should be viewed as a formative time. A time to progress spiritually, emotionally and financially. It’s amazing just how much those three aspects of your development can end up affecting each other.
If you’re a single guy, you have a unique chance to bless your future wife right now. Setting aside just a little money every month will enable you to provide some much-needed security at the outset of your marriage. Take it from me and my married friends: In the long run, that will mean a lot more to your bride than a fancy truck or a shiny watch.
Copyright 2005 Drew Dyck. All rights reserved.