Tag Archives: Expectations

New study: a good credit score is a key performance indicator for marriage success

Financial responsibility is a key performance indicator for marriage success
Financial responsibility is a key performance indicator for marriage success

Story from the leftist Washington Post.

Excerpt:

When people are looking for a significant other, they often try to find someone whose values, education, earnings, hobbies and even height match their own. But new research suggests there’s one promising measure for finding a committed partner that most daters overlook — credit scores.

A credit score is a number that is supposed to reflect the risk of lending money to someone, based mostly on their past history of borrowing, repaying and defaulting on debt. Banks have long used credit scores to evaluate customers, but these days potential employers, landlords, insurance companies, cellphone companies and many other businesses do, too.

A new working paper from the Federal Reserve Board that looks at what role credit scores play in committed relationships suggests that daters might want to start using the metric as well. The researchers found that credit scores — or whatever personal qualities credit scores might represent — actually play a pretty big role in whether people form and stay in committed relationships. People with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships and marriages and then stay in them. In addition, how well matched the couple’s credit scores are initially is a good predictor of whether they stay together in the long term.

The paper analyzed a large proprietary data set of 12 million randomly selected U.S. consumers from the credit reporting agency Equifax over a period of about 15 years. Researchers used an algorithm to find a swathe of committed couples, including some who live together and are not legally married.

They found that people with higher (i.e. better) credit scores are more likely to form a committed relationship, as the chart below shows. This was true even after controlling for other differences between partners, like education level, race or income.

The researchers also found that having higher credit scores when they started the relationship meant that couples were less likely to separate over the next few years… In fact, for every extra 100 points in the couple’s average credit score when beginning the relationship, their odds of splitting in the second year fell by around 30 percent.

So what do I want to say about this story? I want to tell you that marriage is not something that you just jump into when you feel like it, without any preparation. Relationships work well when both people have trained their character to be ready to do the most important thing in a relationship: to commit. And your credit score is a good measure of your ability to do that.

A high credit score is an excellent measure of a person’s ability to be responsible with money, and to take their obligation to pay their money back seriously. Marriage is all about whether two people are comfortable with being responsible, and whether two people can put aside their desire for fun and thrills and meet their obligations, even when they don’t feel like it. If a person is uncomfortable with marriage obligations, because it is too “transactional” and they want to be feelings-led, that’s a clear sign they are not ready for a commitment through thick and thin. The credit score is a measure of one’s ability to be responsible to others regardless of feelings and desires, and that’s what you need to commit.

When I meet someone I am interested in for marriage, if they have problems with their education, career or finances, the first thing I do is to try to push them to study for a degree with a good employment rate, and good starting salaries. I push them to get good jobs with reputable companies, and to work in the summer if they are students. I push them to pay off their debts and start investing. I do this because I am trying to make them marriage-ready. That is, I am trying to get them to be comfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations.

One girl I used to mentor just got married. She started out living with her parents, doing a degree in English, and working minimum wage service jobs. Then something happened. She moved out of her parents house, got a real job, cut expenses, and married an employed non-student who works and saves money. They are both paying down debt like crazy, and she has a plan to invest soon. Most of what she did was self-directed, all I did was cheer, make suggestions and send the occasional gift. But she never viewed this advising and rewarding as “manipulative”. She was happy to get the opinion of someone with qualifications in those areas. She didn’t rebel against people who were leading her upward, she embraced it. Now she’s committed to a man for life and they are executing a sound plan to have an influence as Christians. It has not been easy for her. She is punching well above her weight now, though.

If you want to get married, you need to develop the ability to commit. That means that you need to get comfortable with self-sacrifice and self-denial. You need to change your character through studying hard things, working boring jobs, saving instead of spending, and investing early. These are the life experiences that change your character so that you are able to commit to another person for life.

Who should you marry?

Painting: “Tristan and Isolde”, by Marc Fishman

Dina found this article in the leftist Washington Post, of all places. The author explains how her husband lovingly helped her to recover from her Caesarian section. He actually had to to carry her to and from the bathroom, very slowly. Until she was better.

She writes:

At the time, I thought: This is why I married this man. Not for his fabulous head of hair or his beautiful, light-brown eyes — though those things were certainly bonuses. But no. It was his gentleness, his thoughtfulness, his loving heart, his caring nature that sealed the deal for me.

As a dating coach who works with singles in their 20s to 50s, I see a lot of people focusing on superficial things that have little to do with a potential partner’s character. I get it — I once obsessed over those things, too.

Most of all, I see how the trap of chemistry can lead people astray. Chemistry is important, but as far as relationships go, it’s only half the equation.

So how do you look for these deeper, more important qualities in the early stages of dating? Some might argue there’s no way to tell in, say, the first several months of dating someone — after all, it is the honeymoon stage — if this is the type of person who will help you onto the toilet during times of trial. I disagree.

Looking back to the early days of dating Dave, all the signs were there. He treated my friends with care and kindness, which showed me he had the ability to be compassionate. The way he scoured the Internet for the perfect gifts for my parents and nephews showed me his thoughtful, generous side. He rubbed my back and wiped my tears after I suffered a heart-wrenching squash match loss, showing me that validating my feelings was important to him (even if I’m the most competitive person alive and it was just a squash match). He listened to me vent after a difficult fallout with a colleague, showing me he was ready and willing to be a part of my support system.

When he stayed up until the early hours of the morning, helping me with Web site issues relating to my coaching business, I knew I’d found someone who would support me in my professional goals as well as physically and emotionally. When he held my hands and said “We’ll figure it out” while I was dealing with a frustrating medical situation, that was probably my biggest clue that he’d be so supportive in that hospital room years down the line.

Singles should keep their eyes open for these signs. They’re more telling than a person’s job, salary, ambition or education; whether he or she is the “right age”; has the perfect body; or can dazzle you with their charm and wit.

Keep your eyes open for the type of person who one day might lovingly help you onto the toilet.

When you are married, the amount of time you spend having fun and feeling thrilled is minuscule. The real problems you face are money problems, sex problems, in-law problems, holiday problems, parenting problems, etc. Most often in marriage hard stuff needs to get done. Compromises need to be made. There is actually very little fun and thrills. If you want to prepare for most of what marriage is about, then it’s best to focus on responsibilities, expectations and obligations. Spouses need each other, and the ability to sense someone else’s needs and to care for them, even when it’s not fun for you, is non-negotiable.

The bottom line for people to understand is that you can’t be a selfish fun-seeking, thrill-seeking, FOMO-traveling hedonist all your life, and then jump into marriage at the last minute. You have to mature and grow your character so that you are ready for the responsibilities, expectations and obligations that marriage requires. If you go through your 20s and 30s always doing what feels good “in the moment”, then don’t expect that any last-second desperate marriage will last. You are are the person who makes all the decisions before you marry. If your repeated pattern of decision making is to do what feels good “in the moment”, then you won’t suddenly be able to turn into a person who is comfortable with doing what marriage requires of you. You have to form your character first so that you are comfortable with what marriage requires of you.

Believe me when I tell you that some women who hate the things I write are now divorced, unemployed and running short of money because they thought that following their heart was the right approach to life. If you’re not practicing how to deny your own self-interest and practicing how to build up the people around you to practice for marriage, then your marriage won’t last. If you push away people who are wiser than you are, so that you can follow your heart, your marriage won’t last. If you think that you have to delay marriage in order to tick off items on a list of impressive, fun things that the feminist culture says are “more important” than marriage, then your marriage won’t last. The prerequisite to a successful marriage is growing up.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your marriage?

Painting: "St. George and the Dragon", by Paolo Uccello (~1456)
Painting: “St. George and the Dragon”, by Paolo Uccello (~1456)

A friend who just got married sent me this video, and ask me to comment on it, in light of my views on courtship and marriage.

It features famous pastor Matt Chandler and his wife Lauren answering this question:

“What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your marriage?”

Here’s the video, pay close attention to Lauren’s answer, since that’s the one I want to talk about:

I liked Matt’s response but nothing much occurred to me when I saw it. It’s always a man’s job to listen  to the woman completely, then encourage her to be specific about what is causing the feelings, then propose alternatives to her for how to move forward in a way that solves the problem. I used to think that feelings were crazy, but now I see how to handle them – which is you listen first, try to get her to be specific, then suggest practical things that you can do to remove the underlying triggers or causes. In the old days, I would just point a finger at the woman and say “You’re crazy!”, because she was acting so differently than my car or my computer does. These are things that everyone knows about women except me, apparently. Phooey!

Lauren says her biggest problem was inside her, and not caused by her husband. Basically, after she married Matt, she was always thinking up a plan B for her marriage to Matt, in case something happened to Matt and he could not protect her. It started even before Matt’s brain cancer, when she was pregnant with their first child. She had this fear that Matt would die and she would be left alone as a single mom and no one would take care of her. So she started thinking about other men who she could go to for help. There was no sexual attraction, nor any romantic interest. She just realized that as a single mother, she would not have any security, and security is very important to women. Women can’t be vulnerable with a man until he gives them that sense of security, and obviously providing for her is a big part of that. So she was already thinking ahead to when Matt left her or died, what will happen, and what is her backup plan. It started out innocently, and it grew into a huge problem that resulted in her putting up walls between her and Matt. And she was able to resolve this by relying on God for her security (which I only partly agree with, as we’ll see).

My response to this was very positive. First, I love when women are deep and in touch with their feelings and they provide me with useful, actionable information like this. Because everything she says is stuff for us men to do, and I like that.

First of all, I think her feelings are really, really natural and normal for a woman to have. They are valid feelings, rooted in the real world, not crazy at all. If I were a single mother, I would be 100% rationally justified in being fearful about the future and finances. Especially if I had put being a wife and mother first over keeping up a career.

I disagree with her solution though, if we take it as a full solution. I don’t think that she needs to only have more faith in God in order to resolve this.  That is OK, but I actually think that it is her husband’s job to resolve this, and it starts when her husband is in school, deciding what to study, and when her husband starts to work, deciding where to work, and when she gets pregnant, and her husband needs to provide for her as Christ provides for the church. For example, he takes out a term life insurance policy so that if he dies, then she will be taken care of until her retirement.

I also think that a woman needs security from being abandoned or being cheated on. I deal with this in two ways. I have long-term commitments in my life that I keep in order to demonstrate to women I might be interested in that I can keep commitments. So, my pet bird is really, really long-lived. His species only lives 16-20 years with excellent care, and the record is 33 years. He is 27.5 years old right now! And my whole life is wrapped up in making sure that he is all right. In addition, my summer car is 17 years old now, and I have had her all that time. When my parents suggested that I might trade her in for a newer model, I started to cry and told them to never say such things again. A car is a knight’s horse, after all – that’s part of chivalry.

As far as the infidelity thing goes, I’m a virgin and I’m never even kissed a girl on the lips. I’m saving that for my engagement, which may never even happen, but so what. What do I care? I’m going to have eternal life with Jesus, I’m not trying to have a good time in the here and now. All through courtship I am communicating to women that marriage is a boundary, and some things are not OK outside of marriage. What do you think she will think after we are married? She will think that all the things that were off limits to you when you were dating will be off limits to you with other women you’re not married to. She will think that sex was never a big goal for me, that helping her and leading her to make a difference for Christ and his Kingdom were more important to me.

In addition, women I am courting would know who the women I look up to are: Nancey Pearcey, Ann Gauger, Heidi Cruz and super-mom Michele Bachman. My friends know me – they know that I am mentoring a lot of younger Christians to make a difference, and not pursuing pleasure the way that most young people do. My goal is to provide God with able laborers, and my future wife has security from that, knowing that her value lies in her ability to serve God, and not in her youth and appearance. A woman is not just arm candy. A woman is a partner. I have work for my future wife to do. And I need her help. That’s the main thing she is for.

My education and career was specifically chosen in order to provide for a stay-at-home wife and mom, and four children who I expected would all be little Ted Cruz clones. I take the provider role seriously. There are so many things that I am not good at with women, but the provider role makes sense to me, and from high school on I was making decisions to say to my future wife, relax, this is my responsibility to provide for you and to make it safe for you to get pregnant and have children. It’s on me to demonstrate that to her with my academic transcript, resume, investment portfolio and assets. Her fears are natural and rational, and it’s my role to alleviate them with actions and evidence – not with promises about the future.

New study: a good credit score is a key performance indicator for marriage success

Financial responsibility is a key performance indicator for marriage success
Financial responsibility is a key performance indicator for marriage success

Story from the leftist Washington Post.

Excerpt:

When people are looking for a significant other, they often try to find someone whose values, education, earnings, hobbies and even height match their own. But new research suggests there’s one promising measure for finding a committed partner that most daters overlook — credit scores.

A credit score is a number that is supposed to reflect the risk of lending money to someone, based mostly on their past history of borrowing, repaying and defaulting on debt. Banks have long used credit scores to evaluate customers, but these days potential employers, landlords, insurance companies, cellphone companies and many other businesses do, too.

A new working paper from the Federal Reserve Board that looks at what role credit scores play in committed relationships suggests that daters might want to start using the metric as well. The researchers found that credit scores — or whatever personal qualities credit scores might represent — actually play a pretty big role in whether people form and stay in committed relationships. People with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships and marriages and then stay in them. In addition, how well matched the couple’s credit scores are initially is a good predictor of whether they stay together in the long term.

The paper analyzed a large proprietary data set of 12 million randomly selected U.S. consumers from the credit reporting agency Equifax over a period of about 15 years. Researchers used an algorithm to find a swathe of committed couples, including some who live together and are not legally married.

They found that people with higher (i.e. better) credit scores are more likely to form a committed relationship, as the chart below shows. This was true even after controlling for other differences between partners, like education level, race or income.

The researchers also found that having higher credit scores when they started the relationship meant that couples were less likely to separate over the next few years… In fact, for every extra 100 points in the couple’s average credit score when beginning the relationship, their odds of splitting in the second year fell by around 30 percent.

So what do I want to say about this story? I want to tell you that marriage is not something that you just jump into when you feel like it, without any preparation. Relationships work well when both people have trained their character to be ready to do the most important thing in a relationship: to commit. And your credit score is a good measure of your ability to do that.

A high credit score is an excellent measure of a person’s ability to be responsible with money, and to take their obligation to pay their money back seriously. Marriage is all about whether two people are comfortable with being responsible, and whether two people can put aside their desire for fun and thrills and meet their obligations, even when they don’t feel like it. If a person is uncomfortable with marriage obligations, because it is too “transactional” and they want to be feelings-led, that’s a clear sign they are not ready for a commitment through thick and thin. The credit score is a measure of one’s ability to be responsible to others regardless of feelings and desires, and that’s what you need to commit.

When I meet someone I am interested in for marriage, if they have problems with their education, career or finances, the first thing I do is to try to push them to study for a degree with a good employment rate, and good starting salaries. I push them to get good jobs with reputable companies, and to work in the summer if they are students. I push them to pay off their debts and start investing. I do this because I am trying to make them marriage-ready. That is, I am trying to get them to be comfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations.

One girl I used to mentor just got married. She started out living with her parents, doing degrees in English, and working minimum wage service jobs. Then something happened. She moved out of her parents house, got a real job, cut expenses, and married an employed non-student who works and saves money. They are both paying down debt like crazy, and she has a plan to invest soon. Most of what she did was self-directed, all I did was cheer, make suggestions and send the occasional gift. But she never viewed this advising and rewarding as “manipulative”. She was happy to get the opinion of someone with qualifications in those areas. She didn’t rebel against people who were leading her upward, she embraced it. Now she’s committed to a man for life and they are executing a sound plan to have an influence as Christians. It has not been easy for her. She is punching well above her weight now, though.

If you want to get married, you need to develop the ability to commit. That means that you need to get comfortable with self-sacrifice and self-denial. You need to change your character through studying hard things, working boring jobs, saving instead of spending, and investing early. These are the life experiences that change your character so that you are able to commit to another person for life.

Study explores whether atheism is rooted in reason or emotion

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

From First Things, based on research reported by CNN.

A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.

At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalyses of a second dataset revealed similar patterns: Those who endorsed their religious beliefs as “atheist/agnostic” or “none/unsure” reported more anger toward God than those who reported a religious affiliation.

Exline notes that the findings raised questions of whether anger might actually affect belief in God’s existence, an idea consistent with social science’s previous clinical findings on “emotional atheism.”

Studies in traumatic events suggest a possible link between suffering, anger toward God, and doubts about God’s existence. According to Cook and Wimberly (1983), 33% of parents who suffered the death of a child reported doubts about God in the first year of bereavement. In another study, 90% of mothers who had given birth to a profoundly retarded child voiced doubts about the existence of God (Childs, 1985). Our survey research with undergraduates has focused directly on the association between anger at God and self-reported drops in belief (Exline et al., 2004). In the wake of a negative life event, anger toward God predicted decreased belief in God’s existence.

The most striking finding was that when Exline looked only at subjects who reported a drop in religious belief, their faith was least likely to recover if anger toward God was the cause of their loss of belief. In other words, anger toward God may not only lead people to atheism but give them a reason to cling to their disbelief.

I think the best defense to this phenomena is for the church to not tell people that God’s job is to make them happy in this life on Earth. I think if we spent less time selling Christianity to young people as life enhancement, we would have much fewer apostates. If young people get into their minds that God is their boss, not their waiter, then that is a good preparation for the real world. And all of the challenges that Christians face – from poverty, to peer pressure, to health problems to persecution. Stop expecting happiness, that is not God’s goal for you.

I was blessed to have discovered apologetics at a very early age. This passage from C. S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” always stood out to me back then:

Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

When I was young, I shortened this quote into my motto, which lasted until just a few years  back when I finally started to feel some security. And that motto was “nothing works”. Nothing works. That’s right, so get used to it. Everything sucks, nothing works. Nothing works.

Stop expecting God to make you happy. You are a soldier, and your job is to fight to the last breath in your body for the General. Hold until relieved. You’re damn right it’s unfair. Your whole life is unfair and then you die. Get used to it. When I was in college, my Christian friends and I used to joke that even if we fought our entire lives for God and he tossed us into Hell like firewood, we would still do the same things. We were happy to serve and we didn’t think about whether we were getting what we wanted. We did not take stupid chances, but we just didn’t care about being happy. We felt that God was in the right, and sinful humans were in the wrong, and that it was enough for us to serve on the right side. We didn’t expect anyone to care how we felt, we just expected to serve. And if our first plan failed, we went on to the next plan, and the next, until we found a way to serve in spite of the unfairness of it all.