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Perfect opportunities aren't often handed to you, like a ripe peach from the leather-gloved hand of Jereth the Goblin King.

I Was Happy to Marry a Poor Man. Then Things Changed.

On the day my partner and I got married, I didn’t promise him much. Life is long. Uncertainty is its only certainty.

For poorer? In sickness? Forsaking all others? Until death?

Like, death-death??

I have questions. Why are we poor? Are we poor because capitalism sucks and robots took our jobs? Or poor because one of us hid a gambling addiction, and poured our life savings down a slot machine somewhere in Hollywood, Florida? Because those are pretty different things!

What sickness? All others? Because if I get a neurodegenerative disease, and I lose every memory of you, but you stay by my side, and the kind nurse (who has been with a long string of undeserving guys and who’s super pretty but doesn’t know she’s pretty) leans over to check my vitals, and compliments you on your unfaltering loyalty to me, and then your eyes meet, I do want you to kiss her. Details from my upcoming self-published romance novel to follow.

When comes the death? Who dies first? How different will we be? What kind of world will we live in? What will it cost me to keep these promises?

Obviously there is a pleasant future we’re aiming for where none of these mundane trials become marriage-ending events. But I am a realist. Life can change people, sometimes beyond recognition. I don’t make promises I can’t keep. So I would never promise to stay married to someone no matter what. And I would never expect a pledge from a partner that I myself am unwilling to give.

In the end, what we promised each other was this: “I will always enable your happiness.”

If we were happy together: mazel tov. If we were happy apart: so it goes.

That was a promise I knew I could keep. And it was the only one I wanted in return.

But I did make one other promise that day, this time to his parents. I took them by their shoulders, looked them square in the eyes, and gave them this pledge:

“I will take care of your son. You never need to worry about him ever again.”

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I don't know how helpful these images are.

When Money is the Weapon: Understanding Intimate Partner Financial Abuse

Content warning: abuse.

Our culture’s view of domestic abuse lacks imagination.

A quick Google image search for the term shows image after image in the same composition: sad, broken-looking women with bruised faces and smeared mascara. There’s often a menacing figure looming somewhere in the foreground or background. A hand—either her own, or the abuser’s—covers their mouths, preventing them from speaking.

These images are certainly evocative. They’ve been burned into our cultural brain by many years of prevention campaigns.

And they work. Maybe not exactly how they’re meant to, but they certainly influence behavior. I’ve injured my face a few times—a split lip from accidentally head-butting the dog, a black eye from a too-quick turn near my own woodworking project. Every time that’s happened, I’ve felt the concern of acquaintances and strangers in full force. There’s skepticism in their eyes when I explain about the dog or the two-by-four. I can feel them watching me for other signs. It’s both annoying and affirming. The world is full of people with good intentions, and it’s nice to remember that.

But I don’t know how helpful these kinds of images are. There are a lot of people who are in abusive relationships and genuinely don’t know it. When there’s such a codified cultural idea of what an abuse victim looks like and you don’t look like her, it makes it easier to silence your own suspicions that there’s something very wrong in your relationship.

It’s hard to look at a staged photo of a cringing, weeping, blood-splattered woman and say “I think I deserve access to the resources set aside for her.”

There’s a huge spectrum of abusive behaviors and relationships that isn’t captured in this simplistic picture. Abusive relationships aren’t an exclusive plague upon heterosexual relationships. Victims aren’t always women. Abusers aren’t always violent, and the damage often doesn’t leave a mark. And we’re going to talk about one of the most prevalent kinds of abuse today: financial abuse.

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Money is to relationship as icebergs are to feats of engineering hubris.

How Dafuq Do Couples Share Their Money?

As we’ve discussed previously, the Olde Method for merging finances was simple and straightforward:

The Man and Womyn shall meet when they are idiot teenagers. They shall marrie when they are both seventeen years old, after two weeks of casual dates at the soda shoppe. The couple shall thereafter commence cohabitation. The Man shall seek salaried employment, and shield the Womyn’s eyes from their mutual finances, excepting the allowance to keep herself in straight pins, and the house in mutton, and the sheepe in the oat corne, and the rye corne, and the barley. And i ‘t be true the Husband gambles her dowry hence, the Wyfe might not but wend to Reno and return to her father’s home in shame and disgrace. Oye, oye, oye, forever and ever, Amen.

Mmhmm, yep, that’s just how it went!

Because labor outside the home was classically a masculine burden (at least in the last few centuries and at least for middle- to upper-class folks), salaries and investments were largely the purview of men. Women, conversely, were usually tasked with domestic labor and household budgets.

The history of gendered expectations around money is long and bonkers. It was only in the 1960s that women gained the legal right to open a savings account of their own. Until the mid-1970s, banks refused to issue lines of credit to women without their husbands’ permission—and not at all to unmarried women. This is a great example of a situation where the patriarchy makes life unpleasant for all genders of people: women are treated like idiot children, men are treated like the long-suffering babysitters of their life partners. And it was all within living memory for our parents! Jeeeeezuz.

Point being, it hasn’t been a long time at all since couples were legally forced to merge most aspects of their individual finances. (We also invented gay marriage since then. You’re welcome.)

That means that couples today are almost certainly managing their finances radically differently than their parents and grandparents. We have a very shallow bench of examples to pull from! And we’ve made up individualized systems as we go, aided by technology.

Here are the successful ways I’ve seen couples divide, partition, and share their finances. Read More

My only wedding financial regret is that I didn't pay $8.99 to get my officiant ordained as a Jedi Knight.

The Only Advice You’ll Ever Need for a Cheap-Ass Wedding

Ah, summer! Wedding season! Love is in the air, and it’s time to express that love in front of everyone you know in a legally binding and probably permanent way! No big deal!

Enter the Wedding Industrial Complex™: that wicked machine that chews up formerly sane couples and spits out crazed people who shout things like “I don’t give one single fuck about fucking hundred-dollar napkin rings why is this all so fucking expensive?!” at one another.

Expressions of enduring love strained through the colander of financial stress tend to come out a little… wrong.

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