The economy affects both the beginning (the wedding) and end of a relationship (the divorce).
When you get down to basics, marriage is about money. Pounding hearts, sweet nothings and lazy Sundays in bed are all well and good, but legally, a marriage creates one financial entity where there once were two. So it makes sense that the economic downturn would affect all stages of marriage, from the beginnings (the wedding) to the end (divorce). The New York Times proves this point in two style pieces this weekend.
The first, "Farms Are for Lovers," discusses the growing trend of farm weddings. Nuptials surrounded by corn and pigs are becoming popular among earthy types and those who want their union to be planet-friendly. And since you're on a farm, you don't have to shell out big bucks for a hotel wedding package. Brides and grooms can save cash on food, flowers, music, décor and lodging. So while you're chowing on a buffet of locally grown, organic pork chops and tossing a bouquet of freshly-cut flowers, you'll get additional satisfaction knowing your service didn't harm the planet and your money directly to the farm and not to the Hilton. (After all, Paris doesn't need any more handbags). If you don't mind a mosquito or two, a farm wedding might just be for you.
Saving money at the beginning of a partnership is great, but what about the end of marriage? In a more sober piece, "Divorce Takes the Economy Into Account," the Times discusses "high-finance marriages" and their tendency to dissolve when economic times are bad. When your fat cat partner no longer brings in the cash he used to, you start to see him in a different, and perhaps less satisfying, light, which can lead to a weaker relationship.
Couples who are considering parting ways have to think strategically about when they dissolve their union. If they do it earlier, a judge may calculate alimony based on earnings from a more prosperous time. If you're the less well-off partner it makes sense to make the break sooner rather than later. After a divorce the high earner can be in trouble if alimony was based on a suddenly-shriveled year-end bonus or, worse, a no-longer-extant job. If you're the high earner, choose carefully when you set a date to evaluate your assets.
For divorces that are in progress a flip-flopping stock market can drag out divorce proceedings—if a portfolio undergoes a dramatic loss of value you need to re-draw financial agreements.
Money is not romantic, but it has everything to do with marriage, whether you're just starting out or about to start over.