Tag Archives: marriage

Why is Couples Therapy So Damn Expensive?

Based on the conversations I’ve had with many 30-something married friends lately, it’s safe to say that most would benefit from couples therapy or sex therapy. From minor communication issues that cause resentment over time to straight up dead bedrooms, most couples can use help, especially at the vulnerable stage of a marriage when kids are introduced.

It’s unfortunate, then, that this type of support is so out of reach for so many couples who need it. My insurance does not cover this kind of therapy, which means if we want help (and we need it) we are looking at $300-$400 PER SESSION for a therapist to tell us how to resolve issues that need solving.

When you husband doesn’t want to touch you, it’s an issue. It impacts your entire life. For someone like me, it becomes a personal mental health issue. It makes it impossible to focus. I take responsibility for some of the problem—-I work a lot. I’m tired a lot. I fail to keep my things organized and be on time to events and airports, which makes my husband sad. I’m trying to fix all those things. But all I want is for him (/anyone at this point/ok not anyone, I’m incredibly picky, but someone) to actually be attracted to me and want me. He says he is, but actions speak louder than words.

And, about words, there are none. He’s not much of a talker to begin with and I get that, but so many of the fights we’ve had over the years have stemmed from me being disappointed that—-even if I’m dressed up and looking my best—-I never get told I’m beautiful or sexy or whatever. It may be I’m asking too much, but I’m insecure to begin with and the I have a husband who would rather watch porn (or other people playing video games) than touch his own wife.

It’s unclear if couples therapy can improve any of these issues, but I’ve realized this is not just a small whatever problem in our relationship, it’s a major, major problem. We are basically roommates and best friends right now, and as wonderful of friends as we are, the intimacy is just not there. After two years of this, I have to cut myself a little slack when I see how I’m reacting and where my mind goes. (I have not cheated. I do not want to cheat. I do but I don’t. I want to fix things. But I’m going crazy and as a woman with a high libido (hate that word btw) it’s severely impacting my life. And, no, I can’t just handle it “myself.” I do that plenty. I crave passion and a warm body and desire and all of it. And instead, I have a cold couch and, if I play my cards just right, maybe I’ll be allowed to go down on my husband.

Well, this is the most TMI post I’ve written on this blog, and I haven’t written in a while—-welcome back readers! It really fits here, though, because getting the help we need will cost a lot. Can we afford it? Sure. We can afford $1200-$1600 a month to learn how to desire each other again, but maybe instead we should put that $ to moving to a 2 bedroom apartment so we have a bit more space. Having our toddler sleep in our bedroom isn’t exactly helping things…

But it’s not just that. It is that I should have probably paid more attention to chemistry and intimacy before committing to marriage. Because I thought, after growing up with parents who HATED each other, the most important thing was to find a partner who was my best friend. And I did that. And we’ve been together 14 years and when we were young and carefree we both would, if I remember correctly, have fairly equal sex drives and our frequency of touching each other was never an issue outside of my always wanting to feel more desired and wanting spontaneity.

When we moved in together, things went downhill. Then we got married, and had a kid. And I got more stressed as the breadwinner and mom —- because no matter if a guy is the SAHD (or part time SAHD) the emotional labor moms do is real (dude, our kid is not ok in size 5 shoes when he is a size 7. This isn’t an aesthetic thing, it can cause him foot issues in the long run.) Our son is living on bananas and bread —-maybe we should get his iron levels checked. Did he get his flu shot this year? If mom doesn’t think about these things, they just don’t happen. Husband is good at completing assigned tasks but project manager of the household he is not. And because I also play the traditional male role—-breadwinner, keeper of the household finances, planner, etc, I’m just so overwhelmed and irritable and THAT doesn’t help our sex life because who would be attracted to a woman who can’t keep up no matter what she does —- who feels like she can’t be a good mother or wife or employee, and isn’t even, well, fuckable.

I never used to understand but it’s pretty damn obvious why people end up having affairs. It’s just hard to lust after someone who is your business partner (because let’s get real, that’s what marriage is), especially when you disagree on how that business is being run. You may still even find the other person physically attractive (for the record I find my husband hot) and the amount of resentment that builds up over time makes it hard to want to be intimate with that other person. It’s easy to long for the simplicity of intimacy without that baggage, even if you realize that if you were with anyone else for 14 years with a young child you’d prob be back in the same exact spot of a similar spot to the left of this one.

So couples therapy supposedly helps with all of this—-getting you to communicate healthfully as married people so you can be intimate again. I think. And sex therapy helps if you have unmatched sex drives or levels of kink or other dynamics at play (in our case I think we are actually too similar as we both lean dominant and that is a challenge—-funny enough I’ll go rather submissive with the right style of intellectual, articulate domme —-but that’s a whole other persona that isn’t in the cards for our relationship.)

This is important stuff that doesn’t get talked about enough because we live in such a puritanical society filled with porn addicts and dead bedrooms and frustrations and the rare married couple that, for both parties, have healthy communication and have pretty good sex multiple nights a week, or more. For the rest of us, we get by. We try to fix things. We give up. We say—-maybe in a few years when the kids are older, it will get better. Sometimes it does. Often, it doesn’t. Often people get divorced and they say they’ve just grown apart. Nah. I don’t believe it. They’ve just stopped trying to be something they aren’t to make a relationship work that in their head made sense at the time when it felt like one ought to settle down and have kids.

I’ve heard so many stories from friends to. Husbands who were abused as children who have extremely high sex drives and some kinks that upset their wives (one found a male coworker who wanted to have a threesome with them and presented this idea complete with a video of the man taking his pants off.) Others are SAHM who are married to brilliant avoidant men (typical on-the-spectrum engineer types) who do little around the house and have wives who do too much and feel under appreciated as stay at home mothers or part time workers as the men think they bring home the bacon and do enough around the house so their wives should be grateful (funny enough my situation is likely closest to this except I’m in the male role!) Or the relationship where the woman married the alpha man because she wanted to be all “red pill” wife but then she realized she too was under appreciated and her husband fails to spend time with the kids as he can’t do emotions and he leaves that stuff to his wife.

ALL relationships take a fuck ton of work and selflessness and you have to be willing to remember why you fell in love in the first place, esp on the nights when your partner is being “unreasonable” and you can’t convince them otherwise. And, for it to work, they have to also give you that. I think. I mean, what do I know? I’m sleeping on a couch talking to strangers on the internet at 3am because I feel lonely when my husband is asleep in the next room. I am the one trying so hard not to fall into complete self destructive mode because I just want to feel alive again.

For $1200-$1600/month (on a talented sex therapist), maybe I can. In the meantime, someone tie me up right and don’t let me do anything I will most certainly regret.

Wedding Regrets Two Years Later

Weddings are strange capitalistic creatures, especially in America. There are frugal weddings – which can be very personal and lovely – and then there’s the big “wedding venue” wedding, where it’s easy to suddenly spend an extra $10,000 and not be sure how it happened.

My wedding was the later. One of the days I’ll get around to writing a post tallying up all the costs — but I estimate that after my and my family’s generous contributions, the wedding cost $70k-$80k (my budget was a very reasonable $50k – but clearly I failed at staying in budget.) Do I regret going over budget? Not exactly. I’m the all or nothing type, and even though our wedding wasn’t huge by east coast standards (we had about 130 guests, minus a few last-min no shows.) I regret things that I didn’t know then — I regret pouring money into things that I thought would solve for potential issues, when I missed many cost-free opportunities to prevent the magical and glorious nightmare that was my wedding day. Continue reading Wedding Regrets Two Years Later

Holy Sh… Estimated Taxes… WTF… as a Married Couple

Getting married is wonderful for so many reasons. Taxes is not one of them. Besides the horrific marriage fine levied by our tax lords if you happen to want to be an independent woman and continue working post tying the not, there’s also a whole host of tax intricacies which suddenly make TurboTax no longer a viable option and accountants your new BFF.

My husband is an independent contractor.  He usually makes anywhere between $80k and $110k per year, depending on how business is going. As a single person, he was able to take advantage of safe harbors designed to protect self-employed folks from overpaying taxes to avoid fines for coming short on estimated tax payments.

Safe harbors for estimated taxes for single, self-employed folks basically say that you can either pay 90% of your current year’s eventual tax bill OR 100% of your prior year’s tax bill. As a single person, this is pretty easy to figure out — even if it’s hard to guess what 90% of this year’s tax bill will be, you can pay 100% of your prior year’s tax bill and know you’re safe from fines, even if you end up owing more at the end of the year. If business isn’t going quite as well this year, you’ll get a refund, and you’ll give uncle sam a loan for a while, but it won’t be that bad.

Of course, getting married makes this all sorts of more complicated, requiring expensive accounting help to make sense of this mess.

Estimated tax safe harbor for higher income taxpayers. If your 2016 adjusted gross income was more than $150,000 ($75,000 if you are married filing a separate return), you must pay the smaller of 90% of your expected tax for 2017 or 110% of the tax shown on your 2016 return to avoid an estimated tax penalty.

Thank you IRS for an explanation that is not clear at all. It sounds like if your AGI is over $150k as a single OR married person you are considered a higher income taxpayer. This means Mr. HECC would not have been considered a high income taxpayer as a single person, but now that we’re married we’re well over $150k and he can no longer use the safe harbors for his estimated taxes.

Instead, we have to pay 110% of our 2016 taxes (including my taxes) in order to not get penalized this year. Suddenly, my W2 withholdings are no longer an annoyance of over or underpayment to the government, but they can result in substantial penalties.

So – we need an accountant, stat. I consider myself fairly financially literate and the IRS explanation of all of this is the most confusing thing I’ve ever read.

Are any of you married with one partner earning W2 income and the other self employed? How do you manage your estimated tax payments?

Our Marriage Tax Penalty: How It Played Out

There is a lot of misinformation about the marriage tax penalty. While it’s true if one spouse doesn’t work and the other makes any amount of income, the couple will get a “marriage bonus,” once both partners are working and making enough income to live, esp in a high-cost-of-living area, the tax penalty is going to kick in.

The worst marriage penalties are seen when you have kids and lose deductions based on income, but I’m going to share in simple terms why we received a marriage penalty this year – this beautiful first year of our marriage – due tour income.

Federal Taxes Only (State marriage penalty not included below)

Mrs. HECC
Income: $195,000
Single Filer Tax: $47,749.25

Mr. HECC
Income: $105,000
Single Filer Tax:  $22381.75

  • Total Couple “Single” Federal Tax: $70131
  • Married Filing Jointly Tax: $74,217

And, just in case you’re wondering, it is not better to “file separately” as a married couple — this is not the same as filing single (which you can’t do when you’re married.)

Married Filing Separately:

Mrs. HECC

Income: $195,000
Single Filer Tax: $51,958.50

Mr. HECC
Income: $105,000
Single Filer Tax:  $22981.25

Total Married Filing Separately:  $74939.75 

As you can see, if you have somewhat higher incomes, the marriage tax penalty will be quite notifiable.

If we never got married… $70,131 in taxes
Marriage Fine (Filing Jointly)  +$4086
or, Marriage Fine (Filing Separately) +$4808.75

This plays out similarly in state taxes.

Yes, we’re fortunate enough to be high-income earners – but we also cannot afford a house. So there’s that.

 

Thoughts on the Marriage Tax Penalty, Now that I’m Married

Unlike many unsuspecting newlyweds, I was well aware of the marriage tax penalty long before I got married. It seemed like a cruel joke that the tax brackets were different for married couples than singles, and that once married you no longer could file as a “single person.” There’s plenty of publicity around the “marriage bonus” but this only applies if you have one working person in the household. If both partners work and make about the same amount of money, you end up screwed.

I got married anyway.

The marriage penalty impacts different classes in different ways. The worst impact is on lower income couples who end up phasing out of tax credits and other benefits such as healthcare allowances if both partners work, even if together the couple is still together earning at poverty levels. For middle income couples in high-cost-of-living areas, the $1k-$10k+ that has to be paid to the government just for the privilege of being married is significant. Is love worth that much? Continue reading Thoughts on the Marriage Tax Penalty, Now that I’m Married

Post Wedding Depression: Yes, It’s Real

Weddings are beautiful and ridiculous and a waste of money and worth every penny spent. Over the last year I obsessed about the details of my nuptials, but like many girls who grew up on Barbies and Sweet Valley Twins, I had been planning my wedding day in the back of my mind since I was a flower girl at the age of four.

My friend, who also got married this year, made a great point to me about her non-planning wedding planning – if she cared about any one detail too much then she’d be looking for that to go right and noticing if it went wrong, and would be disappointed on her wedding day which is supposed to be the happiest day of her life… so she decided to just let it be.

I, on the other hand, spent what equated to pretty much a full-time job interviewing photographers, musicians, venues, florists, makeup artists, et al. I didn’t hire a planner because I knew I’d drive them crazy and still end up doing all the planning myself. Continue reading Post Wedding Depression: Yes, It’s Real

Working Moms: When is the best time to have kids?

The answer I get re: when is the best time to have kids is “there is never a best time to have kids.” I’m sure that is true, but there is definitely “a time when it becomes harder / impossible to have kids” (at least naturally), so I’m trying to make that deadline without pushing it too much.

When I was younger, I thought 30 was old. I’m now turning 33 in 3 months. Thirty-three is fine age to have kids, but I always thought I’d have my second by 33. Now I’m looking at not yet even having my first.

Continue reading Working Moms: When is the best time to have kids?

Can We Afford Life on a dual-income, one Teacher’s Salary?

My husband is adamant that until I get my ADHD mess in order, we should not discuss the future. He has a point. I am good at planning for years down the line, but in terms of “today,” my life is a mess. I still cannot get myself to work on time and despite some progress in the cleaning up department – my laundry never manages to make it from the drier to my closet. It’s completely fair for him to state that until I can stick to a basic routine, we should not discuss the future.

I know if I can just keep the house clean (well get it clean and then keep it clean) and leave the house in the morning to get to work on time, he will, eventually, be willing to plan life with me. I am trying to get rid of things and simplify as much as possible so that there is just less stuff to create messes. It definitely helps. Continue reading Can We Afford Life on a dual-income, one Teacher’s Salary?

Marriage Is the Worst Financial Decision of My Life – And I Don’t Regret It

The marriage tax penalty is real and it is painful if you live and work in a region of the country that tops the “highest cost of living” lists. While you can make the argument that this is a “choice” and that incomes tend to be higher in that region versus the rest of the country (if you work in a high-paying field), it still doesn’t balance out. I’m glad that I knew going into marriage it was the worst financial decision of my life (my husband says the wedding was, but actually the cost of the wedding was pennies versus what I’ll personally lose over my lifetime, financially speaking.)

There are numerous benefits to marriage, and above all else I’m a sap who believes in love and cares more about stability and security than wealth. I’m happy to be married. Happier than I thought I’d be (at least a month in) as it shockingly feels very different from being single. I didn’t expect it to feel different at all, especially after dating over a decade and co-habiting for the last two years. The only difference, I thought, would be that I can’t just walk out the door without repercussions, and neither could he.

Continue reading Marriage Is the Worst Financial Decision of My Life – And I Don’t Regret It