Thursday, January 12, 2006

How's Married Life?

People have been asking me that question a lot lately. "How's married life?" My answer is usually "Not much different from unmarried life." I'd been dating Laura since Fall of 2002, and we'd been engaged since Fall of 2003. She'd been living here in Lincoln since June, and since then the only time I'd spent at my own apartment was when I was sleeping. We'd been eating together and spending nearly all of our time together anyway. So, married life, thus far, is not much different from unmarried life. The biggest difference is the way that Russell looks at me when I get ready for bed. You can see the one word in his mind . . . Usurper! Actually, no, I don't think that's in his vocabulary. The way I interpret the look he gives me is this: "So . . . where are you sleeping? I was just wondering because this is where I'm sleeping, whether you like it or not. And there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of room left. The couch is nice. Maybe you should go sleep there."

Laura and I do seem to have more of a team mentality. But maybe someone can explain the following to me. Included among our wedding gifts was a sum of money. One of the bills we received was a $100 bill. I had not yet paid the pastor, so I said that I would just drive over to his house and pay him with that. Laura said that I could not, because it was my responsibility to pay the pastor and I need to do that with my money. I responded by using one of my favorite methods: logic.

1. My money has become our money. Your money has become our money. It can't possibly make any difference whether I use the wedding money or not.
2. I will simply use the $100 bill and I will refund same amount to us for the purpose of buying something nice for us.
3. Money is a fungible good. I can replace the bill with something worth exactly the same. [ is currently down, so I can't direct you to a definition of fungible directly. Merriam Webster doesn't give a satisfactory way to link, but they define it as "being of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in the satisfaction of an obligation".]

Yet, she stood fast in the face of this logical onslaught. My dad overheard and said that he had been trying to explain the same thing to my mother for years, and it just doesn't seem to work. This brought to mind many occasions when my mother had given me money, or I had received money as a gift, and my mother told me to use the money for X, not Y or anything else. But as long as I have at least the same amount of money, what difference does it make if I use the given money for Y and then use the money I already had for X?

Can someone please explain that to me?

[Image © 2006 Kelly Hoffart]


  1. It's easier if you don't argue I find....

  2. If you want to stay married, that is . . .

  3. Kelly, Kelly, Kelly...

    Looks like it's time to revisit Deborah Tannen's "You Just Don't Understand".


  4. Clearly, you haven't taken family law. Your responsibilty to pay the pastor is a personal debt, and the money you got for your wedding is marital property. Your debt is NOT marital property, therefore, the debt is yours and yours alone and should come out of your funds, not the marital funds.

    As far as money-as-a-gift, it's an issue only because when someone gives you money for X, it's a matter of respect to only use that money to purchase X, even if you want Y and have more money elsewhere. Unless, of course, you have money in your wallet and somoene gives you money, which you add to your wallet (thus comingling the funds) and then dip into your wallet to purchase Y and then X, in which case everything hinges on whether or not you're an attorney, item Y is a personal expense, and the person who gave you money for X is a client...

    (Look, ma, I learnt somethin'.)

  5. This still doesn't resolve the question because money is still fungible. It makes no difference, in my mind, to pretend that $100 in my checking account was the gift and to use the $100 bill to pay the pastor.