Broke, Divorcing And So Very Self Centered
Guest Author, Anne Kass, - a retired District Judge of Albuquerque, New Mexico

I want what I want, I want it all, and I want it NOW!!!!!!

This seems to be the guiding principle of a great many Americans. A large proportion of these acquisition-driven folks find their way to divorce court, probably because they've made the mistake of believing their happiness is to be found in things rather than in people and relationships. Predictably, the things don't produce happiness, but those things generally do produce enormous debts.

A short while ago I met the grand-champions of materialism--a couple who were married a mere 14 months during which they spent their combined annual incomes of $105,000, and they created $29,000 in debt to acquire two automobiles, and they had charged $26,000 on a myriad of credit cards, and they both owed school loans. They were divorcing, they said, because of money problems. Each was insisting the money problems were all the other's fault. Each was certain his/her happiness now would be assured if only the other would just pay their fair share of the debts, then disappear. Of course each was convinced the other's "fair share" was 80% or more of what they owed.

While this couple won the prize for spending the most money in the shortest time with nothing to show for it, they didn't win the prize for being the most self-centered. That prize went to a couple who had also spent their combined annual incomes of $75,000, and charged $12,000 on their credit cards, and owed money on both their automobiles. What this second couple did to earn the all-time "me-first" award was this: Each had borrowed $5,000 from their respective elderly parents.

The husband's parents were retired and living on his father's small pension and social security. The wife had a widowed mother who was surviving on social security and what little was left of her late husband's modest life insurance benefits. Actually, it is quite common for divorcing couples in their 30's or 40's to have among their debts money they've borrowed from their parents who were able to have savings in spite of being less well-educated than their children and in spite of having had jobs that paid modest wages.

One wonders where these couples learned their spending habits although, given that President Bush not long ago suggested that the way for Americans to fix the recession was for everyone to go shopping, perhaps these couples are just being patriotic.

Both of these couples will likely find themselves in bankruptcy court because after the divorce they will be supporting two households instead of one. I always hurt for the elderly parents who will have their loans to their children "discharged" along with the other debts. I also hurt for all the responsible people who will ultimately pick up the tab by way of increased prices on the things they buy to make up for the irresponsible spenders.

Commercialization has led many to a false belief that things will make them happy. Maybe it's time to learn a lesson from past generations. Happiness is a good home, not a fancy house.

For more Anne Kass articles, go here to select from complete list of 97 articles

For listing of over 200 helpful staff articles on Divorce, go here


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