that he got rid of the car and starting working two extra jobs,” Benefield says. “And I placed myself in charge of the finances and got a part-time job.” Realizing they had to take control, they enrolled in the workshop.
“If you have a plan and know where you are going, you can enjoy the things you would normally not have as a single person,” Likens says. “Marriage is a lifetime commitment and is far different than being single or just living together.”
About the course, he adds, “It opened up communication about the sensitive issues of money and created a stronger bond between us. We have the confidence that we are both on the same track and working on the same financial goals.”
Marriage is Hard Work
While marriage can be a wealth building tool, the road to _paradise is filled with detours and obstacles. “What separates those who succeed from those who fail is how they resolve their problems,” says Rozario Slack, director of Marriage, Fathering & Family Initiatives at First Things First, a nonprofit community organization in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A marriage can be less than harmonious when one partner is a spender, ignoring the budget, or putting the family in debt.
Also, keep in mind that there are no absolutes. There are times when being married can be a household tax liability. “Hire a CPA, and have him or her prepare the taxes both jointly and separately,” says Lyndall Medearis, branch manager of the Houston office of AXA Advisors. “In some tax years, joint filing will be the way to go, and some years, separate will be more beneficial.”
All told, marriage clearly promotes the economic, social, and psychological well-being of African American men and women. A marriage between two committed people who love each other and have access to support systems is a __win-win union. Says Zagorsky: “Getting married and staying happily married is a wonderful way to increase wealth.”
By the Numbers
On virtually every indicator of economic well-being, married black adults do better than their divorced, widowed, separated, and never-married peers.
Married African Americans are also more likely to _secure an important part of the American dream-owning a home.
Married African American men earn between 15%
and 18% more than their never-married peers.
Married African American women earn about 13% more than their never-married peers.
From 1950 to 2000, the percentage of African _American women who were married declined from 62% to 36.1%. Among white women, the corresponding decline was 66% to 57.4%.
From 1980 to 2000, the percentage of young black adults who had never married increased from 28.5% to 44.9%.
In the first two years following divorce, family income for whites falls 30%, while family income for African Americans drops 53%.
Sources: The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans, Institute for American Values (2005), Joint Center for Political and Economic _Studies, and Demography (February 2005)