When I first learned about taxes, I was in high school. My girlfriend’s mother was a tax preparer and I happened upon her home during tax season. Mother was busy working on a client’s return. I remember walking through the doorway and seeing her table covered with receipts, slips of paper, and government forms. I hurried by so I wouldn’t get too nosey.
I don’t remember when I started filing tax returns. I was in college. I can tell you that I’ve faithfully paid taxes since my first job in Simeon’s driver ed center. But since I started with those forms, I’ve had the same feelings each time: a strange mix of anticipation, anxiety and dread.
Preparing to file is the best and worst time of the year. I get to rehearse all my expenses and contributions. My wife asks me questions about things we discussed months prior. I get to check a hundred boxes on our preparer’s useful handout. We revisit goals. We wonder why our assessments are high. We celebrate that we’ve been sustained by God, by good people, and by good work. We remember when it wasn’t the way it is.
In my own mind, at and around the time I send that package back to our tax guy, another feeling creeps into my room and asks for my company. It’s anxiety but it’s not an anxiety from the large monster which is the Internal Revenue Service. It’s a truth that money and marriage are often as amenable to one another as oil and water.
I’ve read many smart people talk about marriage. Dr. Cordova’s classes college. Research projects. Graduate studies in pastoral counseling. Most of it has been consistent. Nothing kills marriage quicker than money.
Infidelity does it too. Unresolved anger can destroy a relationship. Boredom and lust are on the list as well. But somewhere near the top of that long list is finance. More marriages break, splinter, and stop because of something related to money.
These three things aren’t exhaustive at all but I’ve noticed them in my marriage and the marriages of people I know in relation to finances.
1. People don’t talk about money.
2. People don’t learn about money.
3. People don’t agree about money.
Some of you aren’t married. I’d love to hear how you come at the issue of finances in your dating relationships. Either way, what would you add to this short list about money and relationships? What should we do differently when it comes to finances?