How To Stay Financially Sane for 65 Years of Marriage 

How would you define a successful marriage?  Better yet, what does it take to make it all the way?  You and I have heard that 50% of marriages end in divorce, and now there is the new Grey Divorce is that is taking steam.  Grey divorce is when a marriage ends after the age of 50, (even if you don’t have grey hair yet). It is always amazing to meet couples who have been together 30 years, 50 years, and 60 plus years.  To go through the different stages of life together, and to create goals early on that you actually make it to many years later.  I’m sorry, but I think that is simple amazing.  And it isn’t all kicks and giggles, is it?  It is hard work, a lot of respect, and guess what………..compromise.  Or at least that is what I’m guessing.

So instead of researching all the marriage advice online, I decided to go to the experts, Aileen & Joseph, who have been married for a whopping 65 years today!  We have worked with them for several years, and I have found a new admiration for them as a couple.  Besides the research I’ve found (make sure your pet approves of your significant other), didn’t prove to be very helpful.  Aileen was kind enough to take me through their years together: from being newlyweds to creating a family together, and now to enjoying their grandchildren.   And when I asked if they had arguments over money, her first reaction was a big laugh.  She explained of course they did, “money was an issue because there was so little of it.”  Huh, that does make sense!

Even though Aileen and Joseph are both Italian that is where their similarities end.  They are only 2 months a part in age; however, Aileen’s parents were born in the US while Joseph’s were born in Italy.  She explained how this was like being raised a generation a part versus only a few months a part.  Joseph was one of 9 children, and Aileen was one of 3.  They grew up in the heart of the depression, which automatically makes someone more of a saver than a spender.  Living through that time, teaches you to save, and to save especially when you don’t have the money.  Nowadays, we are so inclined to just put it on our credit cards, that saving up for a TV or car isn’t even a thought.  It is easier to put it on the credit card then to be patient and work towards a goal.  As Aileen said, “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how much you keep.”  I told you she is someone to admire, such a wise woman!

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Aileen was always the appeaser whereas Joseph was the stricter parent.  When the children needed new clothes or shoes, Aileen wanted to give them the nicer brand.  This is where the majority of their disagreements came into play, sound familiar mom and dad?  It is a hard balance with your children’s needs and wants.  You want to give them the world, I don’t have children, but I can only imagine based on how much I give to my dog.  However, you can’t give and give if it’s detrimental to your family’s finances.  Teaching your children to save up for the bigger ticket items can help, and it teaches them such a valuable lesson.  Maybe you will match whatever they save up or match their amount by a certain percent.  It will hold your children accountable and show them the value of saving towards a goal.  Imagine the gratification they will feel when they hit their goal.  I’m sure that satisfaction will last so much longer than if you bought it immediately for them.

Another topic of conversation surrounded the idea of Aileen being at home with the children instead of working.  She really wanted to work where as her husband wanted her to raise their children like his mother had.  I’m positive this comes up in more marriages than I’ve thought, whether it’s the husband or the wife to be at home with the children.  Most families these days need both spouses to work just to afford basic living expenses, especially in New Jersey.  Joe worked two jobs so Aileen would be home raising the children.  Nevertheless, Aileen went back as soon as she could, even if it was part time.  Aileen started at a small sales company, and that enabled her to be there to get the children off to school and back before they got home.  The extra cash flow allowed them to buy a dishwasher and an air conditioning unit, such luxuries back then!  Aileen now knows it was the best thing for her family, and she might not have known it at the time but trusting Joe allowed her to focus on her children first and then her career. 

I now believe the key must be trust, and trusting your spouse when you are terrified or don’t know what to do.  Being able to verbalize your fears, especially about money, allows you and your spouse to have a conversation to address them instead of fighting about them.  We need to compromise, and then trust that our compromise is to better our family.  To not be scared because if you have a true partner with your spouse, they will be right there with you to take the next step.  Today is Aileen and Joseph’s 65th Wedding Anniversary, and I want to wish them the happiest anniversary with many more wonderful years to come.
Tonight when you have a drink, please do a CHEERS to Joe & Aileen!

Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
Wealth Advisor

This information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.  Opinions expressed are those of Jessica Weaver and Aileen and are not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.  Aileen and Joseph are not affiliated with Raymond James.