Fun to Date But Not to Marry

Vickie is dating a man who is up to his eyeballs in debt. He wants to get married. Vickie can't get past his debt. Should she marry this man knowing how he views his finances?

QUESTION: Vickie in San Antonio is dating a man who is up to his eyeballs in debt. He wants to get married. Vickie can’t get past his debt. Should she marry this man knowing how he views his finances? Dave tells Vickie they need to be on the same page about money before they walk down the aisle.

ANSWER: If you were to go to the mall and buy things that you loved and fill up your car full of things that you loved and put that all on a credit card, the purchase of those things would be exciting. If you were to go to the car lot and buy a brand new car of your dreams and put that on a car lease—the worst possible idea—the purchase of that would be exciting while you’re doing it. So exciting does not qualify as wise. I’m not going to go with exciting. You and I are too old to fall for exciting.

I think the problem is this. You guys are on completely different planets on your view of money. That is a death knell to a marriage. The number-one cause of divorce in North America today, the number-one cause of marital discord—people fighting in marriage—is money. It’s disagreements over debt. It’s disagreements over the stress that debt brings. It’s not agreeing on what we’re going to purchase, where we’re going to spend the money that we make. When you are not on the same page on money, you are not on the same page on life. Jesus said, “Your treasure is where your heart is.” How you spend your money says who you are. It says what your values are. It says what’s important to you.

This is a fun guy to date because he’s got a lot of toys, and he’s impulsive and fun and charismatic. He’s a fun guy to date. But until you two get on the same page with money and you’re in agreement about the future of how we’re going to handle money going forward—in other words, what he’s going to do with this debt if you were to get married—I would strongly suggest that this doesn’t go forward to marriage. A good marriage counselor will tell you the same thing. You’re saying, “The number-one cause of divorce, we already have it maxed out. We are complete polar opposites on how money is handled, and we know that’s the number-one cause of divorce and we think our marriage is going to work.” You’re swimming upstream. It’s just too tough.

Fun to date him—no problem with that. For this to get serious and turn into a marriage, someone’s going to have to change. You’re going to have to agree to go deeply in debt and enjoy it, or he’s going to have to agree to get out of debt. One of those two things is going to have to happen.