Why Aren’t You Married?

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“Some men want their hell before death.”

When I was in my 20s and 30s, this was my explanation for why men got married. As you can probably surmise, I had some issues back then. But fortunately for me, I worked through those issues. In 2002, I married Mrs. Groovy. And it’s been a rollicking good ride ever since. In fact, my marriage has gone so swimmingly, my current views on marriage are much less cynical.

Now, providing that your partner is a decent human being—who is faithful, treats you with respect, and is willing to put your wants on equal footing with his or her wants—marriage is an awesome institution. And you would be foolish not to take advantage of it. Here’s why.

1. Two incomes

There have only been two times in my adult life when I’ve been able to save money.

The first time was when I moved back into mommy and daddy’s house in my early 30s. It was a completely humbling situation, but it allowed me to save enough money to make a down payment on a condo.

The second time was when I married Mrs. Groovy. And it’s pretty easy to understand why. When we first got married, Mrs. Groovy earned roughly half of what I earned. But she really didn’t add too much to the cost of running our household. Food bills went up a little. And our clothing, transportation, and debt-servicing costs went up a bit as well. But other than that, nothing really changed. The mortgage, HOA, utilities, taxes, and insurance were all unaffected by Mrs. Groovy’s presence.

So what happens when household income goes up a lot and household expenses go up a little? You have more money to save, providing you can withstand the lure of lifestyle creep. By the time Mrs. Groovy and I left New York in 2006, we were saving roughly $2,000 per month. Now we’re saving roughly $6,000 a month (including employer contributions). And there’s no way Mrs. Groovy and I could have accomplished this without establishing Team Groovy. Marriage introduced us to the miracle of two-income households.

2. Two sets of hands

Life is a cruel taskmaster, chaining you to an unrelenting number of chores and responsibilities. And if you’re single, you only have 168 hours a week to throw at life’s demands.

But you really don’t have 168 hours a week. You have to sleep, after all. And you have to work. And while work is one of life’s responsibilities, it’s a huge time suck that cares not a whit about the other things in your life craving attention. The laundry, the lawn, the kids—they can all wait. Nothing gets done until you’ve spent a least eight hours in a cubicle doing things to make your boss rich.

What happens, then, when life’s demands require more hours than you have to give? Things fall by the wayside.

When I was single—cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking fell by the wayside. My bathroom was a disgrace. And if I wasn’t shoving fast food down my gullet, I was feasting on my favorite home-cooked meal—bean and cheese burritos nuked in the microwave. Man, was I a mess.

But all that changed when I got married. Mrs. Groovy brought another set of hands to the Groovy household. That gave us 336 person-hours a week to throw at our combined chores and responsibilities. And here’s the beauty of that situation. Mrs. Groovy didn’t bring that many extra chores and responsibilities with her. The math, in a sense, worked out just like it did with our two-income household experience. The good, represented by the number of household person-hours, went up a lot. And the bad, represented by the additional household chores and responsibilities, went up a little. We now had the hours to manage our affairs properly.

Two sets of hands were a godsend. And as our marriage evolved, and as our division of labor became more aligned with our individual strengths, the benefits of two sets of hands became even more manifest. Today, the bathrooms are clean. My burrito consumption is way down. And most important of all, life is decidedly less stressful. I no longer have to worry about cleaning clothes, cooking meals, buying groceries, paying bills, making doctor appointments, and booking hotels. And Mrs. Groovy no longer has to worry about cleaning dishes, confronting home improvements, tracking expenses, managing investments, killing bugs, and lifting heavy objects.

3. Accountability

Let’s face it, men need focus and direction. Without a civilizing force; that is, without something to corral our aggressive and present-oriented natures, we men can do some pretty dumb things. That’s why our jails, methadone clinics, and skid rows are dominated by our gender.

Now, I didn’t need Mrs. Groovy to stay out of jail or keep me away from illicit drugs. But I did need her to get my act together. Prior to our marriage, my life was characterized by too much beer, too much fast food, too much boorishness, and too much financial stupidity. But she changed this. She got me to direct my energies toward more fruitful activities. She got me to adopt more worthwhile attitudes. She—and I’m loathe to admit this—made me a much better person.

Did I make Mrs. Groovy a better person? Absolutely! But I’ll let her recount the numerous flaws I lovingly corrected. Perhaps she’ll be so kind to do so in the comments section? Or maybe she’ll do it in a Mrs. Groovy post?

4. Motivation

Most of us want to matter.

But most of us have very pedestrian talents. So we’re never going to score the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. We’re never going to cure cancer. And we’re never going to free an oppressed people from tyranny. The world will neither grieve nor notice when we pass away.

And that’s okay. You can still have a meaningful life. You can become a teacher. You can become a caregiver in a nursing home. You can start a charity. Or, you can get married.

You get married, and you’ll become the center of the universe for at least one other person. Have a kid, and you’ll become the center of the universe for at least two other people.

5. Big hairy audacious goals

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: life is the ultimate team sport.

Think of the goals that people commonly have for themselves—buy a house, build a successful career, have kids, raise those kids to become responsible adults, pay for their college educations, pay for their weddings, and save enough money to retire in dignity. Good grief is that intimidating. The money and time it takes to accomplish all of these things is astounding.

So why go it alone? Wouldn’t it be easier to attack these goals with two incomes, two sets of hands, and two brains?

Within the past two years or so, Mrs. Groovy and I achieved financial independence. Come this October, we’ll say goodbye to the W-2 world forever. And there’s no way we would have accomplished this herculean task separately.

If you got a number of big hairy audacious goals, do yourself a favor: get the best teammate you could possibly have—a freakin’ spouse.

Final Thoughts

Okay, groovy freedomists, that’s all I got. If you want to be a better person, if you want to be somebody’s hero, and if you want the resources and mindset to accomplish big hairy audacious goals, seriously consider the institution of marriage. When done right, it’s the ticket to a supremely rewarding life.

So what say you? Is my ode to marriage over the top? Or is it spot on? I’d love to hear your thoughts, particularly if you’re married.

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38 Comments

  1. Spot on, my friend. I was fortunate to find and marry my better half in my early 20s. While marrying young isn’t for everyone, it has made a world of difference for us. Particularly, we got on the same page financially and set our goals which has allowed us to tackle many life hurdles early. And there have been countless other benefits along the way.

    • Mr. Groovy

      When you marry well and are on the same page financially, marriage is awesome. Glad you found your better half at such a young age. It looks like Team Green Swan is destined for great things. Kudos, my friend.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed, Julie. When you think of your wife or husband as a teammate, everything changes. You’re more likely to set goals. You’re more likely to shoulder on through adversity. And like you said, you’r more likely to tackle things you never would have tried separately. I lucked out with Mrs. G. Looks you did too with Mr. CBL.

  2. Well, I think your spot on, Mr. Groovy! Marriage has been beneficial in exponential ways for me (and I’m pretty sure my husband would say the same 🙂 )! We started dating at 18 and married at 22. We found in the last year of college, it was much cheaper for us to get an apartment together than to pay for room and board at college – a win for the pocket book and a trial run at co-habitation (and we’ve been co-habitating for 20 years, so it worked out). And, though we don’t have two incomes, the shared goals provide motivation and excitement to get those goals accomplished together!

    • Mr. Groovy

      That’s so awesome, Amanda. I’m so glad you found your teammate at such an early age. And, yes, it is amazing what co-habitation can do for the finances. I can’t help but think of that old saw, “two can live as cheaply as one.” Our elders certainly had some wisdom. Good luck on the next 20 years of co-habitation. It should be a blast.

  3. “Some men want their hell before death,” is the best quote I have heard in a long time!

    That being said, we’re coming up on twenty years of marriage this December and your account above is spot on. Conversely, if you marry the WRONG person, it can be a true disaster. Emotionally, financially, everything.

    I think that in general, women have a calming and civilizing effect on men. They drink less beer, their hygiene is better and are generally more pleasant to be around!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! Mrs. Groovy asked me who the quote was from. When I said me, she was shocked. She didn’t think a younger Mr. Groovy had the intellect to say something so elegant. And you are so right about how marrying the WRONG person can be a true disaster. I have a dear friend who chose very poorly his first time around. Luckily, the marriage ended before too much damage was wrought upon his finances and mental health. His second marriage proved to be much better.

  4. I’m just wondering what you did lately to Mrs. Groovy that made you (have to) write that post? 🙂

    Seriously, marriage is a wonderful gift. It was meant for a man and woman to be together, and I’ve never been happier than after I was married. Jon (above) is correct – be careful in the selection process, but select!!

    • Mr. Groovy

      I’ve been good, Fritz! I swear. The last time I got into trouble was five or six months ago when I butt-dialed Mrs. Groovy on my cell phone and she heard me telling some woman how great she looked. Mrs. G thought I was flirting. It turned out the woman I was “flirting” with was my boss. We were in Dallas for a regional meeting and the last time I saw her she was 9 months pregnant. She had since given birth and lost all the maternity weight.

      • I thought he was schmoozing the desk clerk at the hotel like he usually does. I tried him back and got his voice mail. “Hell-o-o-o, I just heard you flirting”… (I was toying with him) and he didn’t get my message until he was at dinner with his whole work gang. They had a good laugh.

  5. Will we be getting Mrs. Groovy’s point of view in the next post? I remember reading that being married is great for men, but not nearly as beneficial for women. I very much believe this, mainly due to the gender roles that still exist. I’m not looking to pick up after anyone 🙂

    Never say never, but I just don’t see marriage in my future. That’s not to say that I don’t want to be with someone — I just don’t feel the need to make it a legal and binding contract since I’m not going to have any kids. And at this point I’d need a prenup due to the assets and career I’ve built!

    I’m happy for the people who have great marriages, but don’t feel the need to go down that path myself. It’s especially getting harder to see marriage as a lifelong option when my friends, who have now been married for over 10 years, are starting to get divorced.

    Surprisingly, I have great role models — my parents will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next year.

    • I felt very similar to you, Kate, up until around my mid 30s. Almost suddenly I had a strong desire to have a real partner.

      When I used to commiserate with friends about men, I shared a credo I had developed along the way. And I still say it to a few single female friends to this day. And that is – any man entering your life for good must be in a position to add to it, not subtract. I don’t mean monetarily, but overall. If I hadn’t felt Mr. Groovy was going to enhance my life (and he has) I would have preferred my single status.

      I saw many scenarios when I was single – men who just couldn’t commit; men who could commit but really wanted a mommy.

      Monetarily, he was ahead of me but we didn’t know it. We thought we each had basically nothing. It wasn’t until we refinanced the NY condo that we realized it was valuable.

      I definitely don’t pick up after Mr. Groovy – I may wash his clothes but he learned to turn them right-side out after I kept returning the dirty inside-out ones to him. Otherwise I think he does more household work than I do.

      Yes, I should write a post!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed, Kate. Men shouldn’t marry and expect maid service. I certainly didn’t when I married Mrs. G. Like you said, marriage should be equally beneficial to both parties. And I see your point about not needing to make your relationship “legal.” After all, if you’re not having kids, buying a house together, and co-mingling finances, why bother? Mrs. Groovy and I got married knowing we weren’t having kids. And a few people wondered why. And I really didn’t have an answer. Marriage just struck me as the right thing to do. It was more romantic–a bold statement of my commitment to Mrs. G. And happily for both of us it worked out.

      • I recognize that there are some legal benefits that come with being married (e.g. transfer of assets, etc). But the big one for me is kids — if I wanted kids, I’d definitely need to be married first, regardless of how common it is to have kids outside of marriage. Taking that out of the equation changes my perspective greatly.

        Do you think that being older when you made the commitment to each other has played a significant role in how your relationship is today? I wonder if being more mature and having the ability to take care of yourselves for years before marrying has made a significant impact. I’m sure it really comes down to individual personalities more than age but it does make me wonder.

        • Mr. Groovy

          Hey, Kate, Yes, I think marrying late in life helped. I was too much of a jerk in my 20s and 30s and would have made a poor husband. But my desire to de-jerkify my life coincided with meeting Mrs. G. So timing played a crucial role in our success.

  6. I totally agree, and while I may have brought some positive things to the relationship, I definitely got the lion’s share of improved life quality due to it. Marry well and it is awesome, but as I’ve seen with so many friends and family members, marrying poorly is like working on the Death Star – it’s all going great until one day when it all blows up in your face. 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      “Marrying poorly is like working on the Death Star…” Couldn’t agree more, Mr. SSC. I too have had friends and family get obliterated by the Death Star. So, yes, the key to a great marriage is choosing wisely. Glad to see that Mrs. SSC turned out to be such a boon to your life. You chose well, my friend.

  7. Life is definitely a team sport! From a young age, I was always interested in being married. Losing my first marriage after 25 years was devastating (emotionally and financially as Jon said). I didn’t think I would ever get married again, but then I met Suzanne and changed my mind. That was 10 years ago and I can’t imagine life without her.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Gary. My brother had a similar experience. Married 20+ years. The divorce was devastating emotionally and financially as well. He hasn’t re-married yet, but his girlfriend is a wonderful person and he’s very happy. I’m so happy Suzanne came along. It’s amazing what the right woman can do to a man’s perspective on life.

  8. My wife totally married up when she landed me! We’ve been married for almost 18 years. We got hitched young and kind of grew up together. It wasn’t always easy, but she’s my best friend and I’ll do unspeakable things to protect her from harm.

    My life improved in every measurable way when I got married. Immediately my grades went up. Like you, I ate better, took better care of myself. The list goes on.

    Today we don’t have a dual income because my wife stays home with our kids. But SAHMs give up a hell of a lot more than a salary when they choose that path. They also sacrifice their careers, their social lives, and really their identify for a while.

    I do my best to never stop appreciating that. Great post. Plus one for marriage!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Awesome perspective. The sacrifices made by SAHMs are truly inspiring–and sobering. That you have a keen understanding of this proves that Mrs. GRQ chose pretty damn well. Thanks for stopping by, Ty. I really appreciate what you had to add to our conversation.

  9. I love this post!

    This is actually one of the reasons why my relationship is quickly going downhill, I told my boyfriend I don’t want to be his lifetime girlfriend!

    I used to NOT want to get married because of divorce. I realize divorce happens and we live in a very populated world where it is all too common.

    However, there are still people that manage to make it work and are happy in their marriages. What I see way too often is people giving up on their marriages way too soon.

    Sure you can build wealth faster in marriage, but there’s the whole other side….an emotional component and sharing your life with another human, I don’t want to miss out on that show just because of my pride. =)

    • Mr. Groovy

      Divorce is a scary possibility. And we as a society do appear to pull the divorce trigger too quickly. I can see getting out of an abusive marriage. But splitting up because you’re bored?

      But as you so eloquently pointed out about marriage, the “emotional component of sharing your life with another human” is pretty special. So, yes, I’m a big proponent of marriage. But you got to choose very, very carefully. Thanks for stopping by, Lila.

      P.S. I got my fingers crossed for your relationship. Hopefully your boyfriend will wake up.

  10. Nailed it Mr Groovy

    I don’t want to know what kind of situation Mr. AE would be in if it wasn’t for Mrs AE. For starters my blog wouldn’t exist without the helping hands of my wife.

    Beer consumption would be at dangerous levels.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! I hear you about beer consumption being at dangerous levels. When I was dating Mrs. G, she would refer to me as her “beer-swilling boyfriend.” And this was after I already cut back a lot on alcohol consumption. If anything, marriage saved my liver. It’s amazing what a civilizing force women can be. Glad to hear that Mrs. AE came to the rescue of your liver as well.

  11. Love it! You guys are a great match, and your love and respect for each other shines through every word.

    A good marriage is one of the best things about my life today, and I’m a better person and in a better financial place because of it.

    But, as others have said, it has to be a GOOD marriage. For years, my family would tell me I needed to find someone and settle down, and that I was too picky.

    Nope, not too picky. Just picky enough to get it right the first time, unlike all of them (who have been through at least one divorce). Picky is a good strategy when you are choosing your life mate…don’t settle.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You are so right. Better to wait than settle. Mrs. G jokes that she saved me from joining the Long Island Militia, and I joke that I saved her from becoming a cat lady. Happily we found each other when we were both ready to be “fixed.” And thank God you chose to be picky. Yes, it proved very beneficial to you. But where the heck would Jon be without you! Great contribution as always, Emily. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Ms. FP and I are getting married next spring, and with it, I collect her student loans too! (and just after I paid back my loans). But we’re treating this like a team sport and think we’ll be okay!

  13. Mr. Groovy

    Hey, FP. You’re way ahead of Mrs. Groovy and I. Prior to our marriage, we didn’t even discuss each other’s finances. She had student loans, but they weren’t outrageous. I think it was around $11K. But something tells me that Team FP is going to be pretty awesome. You’ll knock out Ms. FP’s student loans in no time. Always a pleasure, Mr. FP. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. These are many of the reasons I want to marry my girlfriend. We complement each other well and compliment each other well. There are chores and stores she absolutely hates, and I do those since I don’t hate them and I love her. She is, hands down, a much better cook. We’ve already began discussing what she’ll be making me for Thanksgiving. I’ll be in charge of baking, because I am excellent in that arena.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I apologize for the delayed response, ZJ. Before Mrs. Groovy and I teamed up, my life wasn’t moving in a forward direction. But having a partner and mutual goals changed that. Working together and taking advantage of those complimentary skills you mentioned, really made the difference.

      I can’t wait to hear about that dinner and the delicacies you bake. Thanks for stopping by. I always look forward to your comments.

  15. This is an older post, so I’m a bit late to comment. In an ideal world, and in a first marriage, everything you said is true. As my name gives away, this ain’t t my first rodeo. When you are combining families (bringing kids together from past marriages), or when life doesn’t go as planned (your fiance and kid(s) move in and the said fiance loses his/her job), there are a lot of factors to consider. When you’ve both had your finances impacted thru a divorce already, you enter the equation with financial and emotional baggage that makes the equation more complicated…And the payoff even sweeter. Once you’ve been a single parent, having a partner to help with the day-to-day tasks (running errands and cleaning bathrooms) is even more appreciated. I opened my pantry today and found it organized thru no effort of my own and it almost brought me to tears. 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Points very well taken. Marriage is great when both parties love and honor each other–and are on the same page financially. If one party is abusive or is unfaithful–whether that be of the sexual or financial variety–marriage can be hell. And as you pointed out, even when a married couple does everything right, things can still go south (hello illness, job loss, and crazy relatives). So I agree with you 100%. Marriage isn’t always the answer. But when it’s done right, and the flying fickle finger of fate decides not to interfere adversely, it’s the best Department of Health and Human Services known to man. Thanks for stopping by, Michelle. I really appreciate your thoughts. And your story about the organized pantry almost brought a tear to my eyes too. Sounds like you got a good one there.

  16. Not to rain on anyone’s parade (I really like the post and all the points you made), but one can have all of this without being married. My boyfriend and I have been together for ten years now. No need for an expensive wedding and a bunch of rings to be a team :). Commitment is all it takes!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Absolutely true, FM. If you have the commitment, there’s no need to get affirmation from the state and the jeweler.

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