taking the plunge

Our last post in the Best of
Queercents week is by

I wrote a few weeks ago in “Separate But Equal” that it’s harder, I
think, for gay couples to know when and how to merge their lives
(especially finances) without being able to get formally married –
except in Massachussetts!

Well this weekend Rob and I took the plunge. It was during a
conversation about another couple he knows, a married couple back
in Scranton struggling with power and trust issues. This couple
continues to maintain separate checking accounts a year after being
married. They both work, but she is supposed to pay “her own” bills
while he pays for the house he owned before they got married.

I said to Rob, I don’t ever want us to fight about that. And Rob
said he had been thinking it was time for us to really combine
everything: bills, family obligations, everything. That was kind of
it: a quiet agreement, and hey, what else is on TV?

A few days later we sat down in our study with a few 3 x 5 index
cards and wrote out (separately at first) our individual financial
goals, both short-term and long-term. (This is a tip I got from
Money magazine a few months ago).
Then we compared notes, and found we had a lot of overlap. Short
term: to pay off all the cars, student loans, and one remaining
credit card in the next three years. Longer term: we both wanted
some kind of vacation home, and to own our own business, say in the
next ten years. On top of that we’d like to give significant
financial help to my niece to get through college, starting in 5
years, and to both our sets of parents just to help them in their
old age.

It was really good to find we had so much in common in terms of our
future goals, and that we were both willing to budget and plan to
make it happen. Well, Rob was willing for me to do the budgeting.
So I pulled out the trusty Quicken software, and permanently added all of
Rob’s assets, loans, and bills to the program. It now shows
combined assets, combined debts, all our monthly bills, and a
joined up net worth.

To be honest I still feel a little bit of trepidation. Having been
on my own so long, it’s quite a change to now be in a partnership:
what’s mine is his, what’s his is mine. I know it’s not legal or
anything, although we can register for a civil partnership in NJ. The
difference is really psychological and emotional. We have agreed to
be responsible for each other, to provide for each other, and to
make long term plans together. Here I am 37 years old and it’s the
first time in my life I can say that.

Where can I get a ring?