Friday, May 17, 2013

Debt Free Marriage

This picture was taken exactly 10 years ago, almost to the minute. We were young. Blissful. Naive.

Ours was a whirlwind courtship. We got engaged after six weeks of dating. We were married eight months later. We were basically complete strangers just sure we were in love. I can't even remember what made us think that it was a good idea to get married so quickly. We laugh now thinking about how little we actually knew about each other.

During our engagement we both made the commitment to try and live debt free. We both entered the marriage with debt: student loans, vehicles, credit cards...typical consumer debt. We wanted to set our marriage out on the right foot so on our honeymoon we agreed only to spend the cash we had saved and what we had received as a wedding gift, which meant midway through our honeymoon we were eating "Bowl Appetites" made in our hotel microwave and watching really lame movies on cable TV. It wasn't "fun", but it started us off on the right foot by keeping our commitment to living debt free.

It took us several years to reach the point of debt freedom. While we have never been without, we also made sacrifices. We spent one anniversary eating tuna melts at home because we didn't have "extra" money that month. In general, we have not bought expensive gifts for each other for birthdays, Christmas, or our anniversary. The process of us moving in the same direction as a couple has been worth more to our marriage than an expensive meal out or a consumer gift that is soon forgotten.

Having a shared focus in our finances has helped make us stronger as a couple. Now that we are debt free, we are starting to be a little more open to spending money on some "fun" things to celebrate our marriage. But it also means that for now we are still driving our 11 year old van until we can save up enough to pay cash for a newer one. It means that we still make a budget every month. It means we keep a common commitment to stay debt free.

The concept of living debt free carries over into our relationships. I did not want 1 Corinthians 13 read at our wedding. I didn't want to be held accountable for "love keeping no record of wrongs" (surely that's not the correct's in my nature to keep a record of wrongs). My husband is a natural "forgiver." I swear he forgets my faulty actions before I can even say "I'm sorry." I'm much different. It's in my nature to want to hold on to every little hurt, hoarding them for future ammunition. Yet just like it's not easy or necessarily fun to live debt free, it is certainly worth the peace. The peace that forgiveness brings is worth more than gold, silver, or even a new minivan.

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