How to Keep Your Stuff – Pt. 1

Life teaches hard lessons. If you are lucky you get to learn those lessons by watching others experience them. For guys, this hard lesson is “how to keep your stuff.”

The absolute best method of keeping your stuff is to never get married.

No matter how you do the math with that spreadsheet there is no option where getting married lets you keep your stuff. Even if you are one of the token few who do not end in divorce, your stuff will find its way to donation drop offs and the curb with her stuff and lots of new stuff purchased by her being rebranded as “our” stuff. Your stuff got branded “charitable contribution” the day you said “I do.” Even if you do manage to acquire new stuff, unless it is hidden away it will find its way to the curb. This process never ends. Just read Ollie’s post about his favorite chair. Some fine writing and more than one life lesson to be learned there.

Oh yes, you want to take issue with the phrase “token few who do not get divorced.” Fine, you can read dry boring stuff like this and make some kind of case, but it is useless. Really, it is. Do you want to calculate a realistic divorce rate that you can expect? Excluding your parents and family members of their generation(s) ask yourself this:

How many friends and coworkers home you either work directly with or are social with 25 or older do you have? Write down that number.

Now count up how many in that group who are either going through a divorce or have been divorced. Write down this number.

Divide the second number by the first number. That’s the divorce rate for the portion of the universe you choose to occupy. The rest of the country or known universe is irrelevant for this conversation. If your universe consists of 35 people and 7 are in the divorce group then your universe has a 20% divorce rate. Time doesn’t matter in this calculation. If you didn’t make it “until death do you part” then you didn’t make it.

We interrupt this post for an important public service announcement.

Don’t be a bottom feeding puddle of shit.

At a young and impressionable age I was waiting in some hospital waiting room while someone had surgery or some other procedure. The television had Judge Judy on. I don’t know what the actual case was, I just remember this was this man and woman who had 2 kids together and weren’t married. Judge Judy asked him why he wasn’t married and he sputtered around until he finally said “we want to have more kids.” At that point Judge Judy went ballistic shouting (I’m paraphrasing from memory here)

You plan for a baby! You save for a baby! You either get a job with insurance or buy insurance to help you pay for a baby! You do not make the tax payer pay for your children!

Personally, I do not believe you _have_ to get married to have kids. You do have to plan and pay for having those kids. I have seen far too many couples abuse social programs meant to help a woman out who got knocked up by a dead beat guy and that trend has been growing for the past 3 decades. One of the arguments against universal health care has been people won’t put off having babies until they can afford them, well, they aren’t doing that now so the argument doesn’t have much merit.

We now return you to our regularly schedule blog post.

My own foray into using that math came when I was twenty-something and working as an IT consultant with a bunch of 40-something guys and one woman who was older than I. We were 8 in total wedged into cubicals meant for 4 employees so we were that woman’s name and the 7 Dwarves. (I was Sneezy in case you were wondering. Somewhere around here I still have the little dog squeaky toy. She took her kids to Disney during that contract and came back with a Snow White and the 7 Dwarves pet squeaky toy set.)

Only one of the guys had not been divorced. The woman, well, technically she was married, but she took the kids to Disney, hubby didn’t go, so flip a coin on how to call that one.

One of the contractors, nicest guy you will ever meet, we will call him Jay (not his real name) was billing at the same rate I was. I had a new car, was living in a 3 bedroom condo and took a girlfriend out most weekends. Jay was a Vietnam vet and part of that “Summer of Love” generation. He and the woman he married home birthed their kids, he caught. His kids were “Irish Twins” btw, you can look that up on your own.

Well, he worked like a dog. Bought a duplex in a then expensive part of Evanston, IL and not soon after she divorced him. She got the duplex, he got the mortgage. Soon after the divorce she remarried and refused to sell the duplex she wasn’t living in for the kids college fund because she “wanted to keep it for an investment.”

Why is any of that detail important? Jay was driving a $500 car and living in a room at the YMCA. I thought that was just a myth made up by the Village People for a song. I didn’t know people actually did that! Let alone people making what I was making. Between the mortgage and the child support, that was all the means left to him.

His story was the worst of the lot, but the rest were similar. Few months to a few years of sleeping on a friend’s couch trying to dig out from under the financial ruin of divorce. Owning nothing but their car and the clothes in a suit case.

I might as well share the story of another 20-something I worked with a few jobs before this one. His parents got divorced and his mom took everything. Around 5 years later his dad and mom started being civil to one another and yes, stupidity is genetic, decided to get back together. After they get remarried he finds out she never paid her divorce lawyer. He got to pay for both sides of his divorce and lost most of his stuff.


Leave a Reply