How many of you are aware of this little factoid: A man cannot enter into the priesthood if he has outstanding debts. A woman cannot become a religious sister or nun if she has outstanding debts. Reason being, how will a priest or nun pledge their entire life to loving and serving Christ is they have the burdon of debt on their shoulders?
Now, for those of us who were called to the married life, it’s a completely different story.
Chances are, you did not just marry your spouse, you married their debt as well. Now, we can wax poetic about it all and say, “Well, mine is student loan debt, so that’s good debt.” I’m sorry. Debt is debt, and you have to pay it back. The sad thing is, some of our debts are so high that it can keep us from living the life that we are to live.
Some scenarios to consider:
Case 1: Young couple, just married, both bringing debt to the marriage, decide to wait “until they can afford” to have children. Time passes, incomes increase, but the debt never decreases because with each increase in income came an increase in expenditures. Time goes, Debt grows and the couple decides that children just aren’t in their future because they just can’t afford them.
Case 2: Married, with children, and debt. Debt each brought to the marriage and debt that the married couple amassed together. The Spirit is on their hearts telling them that it’s time for another child, but looking at their bank account really kills the mood. Surrounded by their worldly possessions, they come to the reality that they have neither the space nor the money for an additional child.
Case 3: Mature couple, ready to start thinking about retirement, but still have personal debt to pay off, in addition to sending kids to college. Then, surprise! They’re expecting. Not sure what they are going to do, or how they’re going to afford this baby, they stand at a crossroads…
OK, I’ll admit. It’s melodramatic, and I know that some people choose to remain childless, but for those who want children, am I really that far off? I often think of my and DH’s situation and how much more breathing room we would be if we didn’t have my Graduate Student loans (I earned my undergraduate degree on scholarship,) and our personal credit card debt. We are slowly chipping away at our debt, but I can help but feel disheartened so often because it seems like Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill just to see it roll back down.
When I was younger, money was always tight and I remember telling myself that I couldn’t wait to be a grown up because then money woudn’t be an issue and I could buy and have whatever I wanted (Don’t ask me where I got that idea.) But looking back, what I should have learned is the difference between wants and needs and the beauty of delayed gratification (I’m still working on that one, paying cash for our splurges does help because you have to save for that purchase, rather than pulling out old Mr. Plastic.) But think about it… the important things in life are things that you have to wait for: the right guy/ girl, marriage, careers promotions, children, grandchildren, etc. Nothing meaningful happens right away.
So, that’s what we’re teaching our girls. The Bear may mention a toy or art set that she is interested in and instead of rushing out and getting it for her right away, it’s either a birthday or Christmas gift. When we have birthday parties for the girls, instead of guests bringing gifts, we have them bring donations (we didn’t do that with The Bear’s 4th because it was just one more thing I forgot.) I don’t know how long we will continue the birthday gift/ donation tradition, and I’ll have to admit, I kind of missed doing it this past weekend, but it’s an easy way to teach the girls about giving back and what the important things in life are.
Sorry if this post sounded kind of random and disjointed. It is a good example of my “stream of consciousness” writing and I am avoiding going back to edit because I am sure these are the words I am supposed to write.