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What’s Love got to do with it? – Michael Jordan, Britney Spears and the peculiarities of marriage

I was the best man in my good friend’s wedding. It all seemed right, since he and his girlfriend had been getting naked together for about 2,438 years. Over the following 9 months, I watched their marital dream turn into the Nightmare on Elm Street. They were divorced before the wedding cake digested, as he and his wife worked overtime to earn their restraining orders. Their relationship had become a creepy little War on Terror, with spying, torture, failed intelligence and weapons of mass destruction. She was Osama Bin Laden, and I often wonder if he is still trying to hunt her down.

This is not uncommon, as I’ve seen many couples go from “I love him more than anything” to “I got hot grits for yo ass”. Only something as special as love can make people want to kill each other so much. As I was doing research for my book “Financial Lovemaking 101”, I was in awe of how many relationships changed shape faster than Oprah’s waistline. Once chubby with love, their vows deteriorated into anorexic, hate-filled bastions of demonic deceit. I then saw celebrity divorces, like that of New York Giants star Michael Strahan, whose wife was awarded $15 million dollars (out of their $23 million dollar fortune, mostly earned from football), plus $214,000 per year in child support. Not to say that she didn’t deserve a substantial share of the money, but I didn’t see her make very many tackles for the Giants last season. Then, there is poor Britney Spears, where the love of her life sunk as low as using their personal sex tapes to chokehold her into forgetting about that little prenup. They say love is priceless, but that’s not true. If you ask Michael Jordan, he might say that love is worth about $250 million, which is probably the minimum his wife will get when their divorce is said and done.

If marriage were a financial investment, some might consider it a junk bond. According to the book “There Goes the Bride”, 20% of all engagements do not end up in marriage. Additionally, the Enrichment Journal on Divorce in America states that 41%, 60% and 73% of all first, second and third marriages respectively, end in divorce. That’s uglier than Jermaine Dupree and Nancy Grace put together. But staying married doesn’t mean you are out of the woods. I have seen a lot of couples that are happily married on the outside, but on the inside, they want to poison each other’s kool-aid. Their anatomy of love is surrounded by a thick layer of scabby skin, made hard by years of agonizing pain endured for the sake of proving their in-laws wrong. I commend these couples for maintaining the moral fabric of our society, but damn. I often wonder if there is a better way to live.

So, given these stats, we can value marriage as a stock. After passing up a new big screen TV and buying the engagement ring instead, you have an 80% chance of getting married, a 59% chance of staying married if you get there, and (say) a 50/50 chance of staying happily married, if you get married and stay that way. Under these assumptions, you have about a 1 in 4 chance of not wanting to trade in your relationship for the TV. Imagine buying a stock in which the company has a 75% chance of going bankrupt. In addition to the bankruptcy, the stock can take half your assets, all of your kids, and most of your sanity. This makes Enron look like a feel good story.

My goal is not to pee in the fountain of love, for I drink from that same fountain. But how can something so beautiful get so ugly? It’s not because men or women are pigs and gold diggers. Well, maybe it is. But it could also be because we have a system in place that gets in the way of true love and the development of families. Can we really criticize those who choose not to get married, when the rest of us are doing it wrong anyway? That would be the pot calling the kettle stupid. Personally, I wonder if there is a day when marriage is not considered to be the only meaningful destiny of a great relationship. The day when people are not quietly calling you a whore or a dog just because you don’t choose to walk down the isle. Will we ever wonder why vows before God must also be vows before the court of law? They say that “breaking up is hard to do”, well it’s even harder if you are financially, emotionally and socially castrated in the process. We force one another into the institution of marriage, but I wonder if being institutionalized is really that much fun.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “Financial Lovemaking 101: Merging assets with your partner in ways that feel good”. He makes regular appearances in the national media, including CNN, BET, MSNBC, USA Today, and Essence Magazine. For more information, please visit http://www.financiallovemaking.comor http://www.yourblackworld.com.

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Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

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