I have always wondered if one has to be debt- free, have a house and preferably a car before thinking of searching for a spouse. When I read profiles, some mention that they are financially stable and would only consider someone similar. I am wondering what is meant by that?
While I agree that a certain level of financial independence is preferable, I am also worried that one can pass up a good match just because they do not meet their “financial “requirements. What is your take on that and does it mean the same thing to both genders?
Great question! This is one of those areas that normally doesn’t come up if you just randomly meet someone, but by using a site like this one you can save a lot of time by learning this important aspect of a potential match.
Terms and Objectives are Important to Reconcile
I think “financially stable” does have different meanings to different people. It would be important to understand what that means to a person if they have it in their profile. It’s a great question to ask while you’re getting to know someone. Finances are a very personal matter for a lot of people, so you want to make sure there is a good comfort level first before discussing the subject if it is not explicitly in their profile.
My take on the issue is that the term “financially responsible” may be more applicable than financially stable, simply because defining stable can be so difficult. For most people, financially stable used to mean “has a job.”
However, moving through recent uptrends and downtrends, there are certainly some very hard-working people that are unemployed right now. For others, it may mean “owes a home.” But in areas like California or New York, home ownership is sometimes so expensive that a person who is very stable may simply be choosing to rent.
If It’s a Big Deal, It’s Not That Simple
So, what does financially responsible mean? I believe it means paying the bills on time. It means taking care of daily expenses and having a plan when emergencies arise. If there have been situations that have caused a person to go into debt (other than school, car, or home), then they are aware of their spending boundaries and are currently working to bring down the debt.
For a person who is out of work and just trying to make ends meet—which is a lot of people these days—responsibility means actively seeking to reduce their spending and trying everything possible to find work and a cash flow positive situation.
What most people do not want to tackle is a person who consistently spends more than they make and has no plan to stop. It may also mean a person who is in denial, who is unwilling or unable to discuss their financial issues when it’s appropriate to the relationship.
Some people have a “money is for saving” approach while others believe “money is for enjoying.” Since finances are such an important issue in marriage, each couple must figure out how it works best for them.
Recognizing the Third Party in the Room
How is it different for men and women? The truth is that we are made differently. It is the beauty of the female, made in God’s image, that she is designed to bear children. As such, many times women prefer potential mates that appear to be able to provide for a family, especially if she does not want to work while raising young children.
This isn’t to say that financially providing can’t be shared in a couple, as it is for a majority of families today, it just needs to be openly discussed so each person has the same expectations. Men tend to take great pride in providing for their family, and from their perspective, they may want a potential mate that isn’t going to take advantage of their efforts by consistently spending more then what is coming in the door.
An open mind and flexible approach always help you to meet more matches, while at the same time knowing your boundaries and what you would be comfortable accepting from another person. There are many people from all different income levels that date and marry every day. It’s all about looking for what you consider important or “responsible.”
As Catholics, we must also consider giving back to the church. Our gift can be a contribution of time, talent, or treasure. Finances are an important part of tithing, along with a heart of gratitude for the material gifts that God has entrusted to us.
Thanks again for your question,
Michele Fleming, M.A.