First Person: The Housing Bust Kept Us Out of Divorce Court

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Now that the housing values are finally recovering, just as many people are consulting with divorce attorneys as Realtors. Experts say they are noticing a direct correlation in the housing and divorce curve as couples can finally afford to break up. Members of Generation X, like my husband and I, were especially hit hard by the housing bust. We were underwater on our mortgage for several years. Although the housing bust forced us to stay in our home, it didn't force us to stay married. We felt the Great Recession and housing bust actually strengthened our marriage. But many of our older baby boomer friends are divorcing as the economy recovers.

According to a recent article by The Fiscal Times, it's not just my imagination that more people seem to be divorcing as house prices go up. Divorce attorneys say there is a pent up demand for divorces. People postponed divorce as they waited to have equity in their homes.

Retiring in our starter home

My husband and I originally bought our home as a starter home in 2005. We thought we'd trade up to another home in just a few years because everyone around us was "flipping" houses for a profit. I ended up being happy about our underwater mortgage because it forced us to stay put. Settling down not only strengthened our marriage, but helped our finances. We didn't house hop, which would have cost us in the long run. We could focus on paying down our mortgage so we can be debt free in retirement.

Living on one income

My husband and I had to deal with pay cuts and furloughs in the past five years. We practiced living on one income, even though neither one of us were laid off from our jobs. Just pretending that we had to survive on one income made us a stronger couple. We funneled my pay check toward our mortgage instead of spending it on frivolous purchases. According to the article, couples who argue about money are at higher risk for divorce. Twenty-nine percent of couples said the recession strained their marriage, according to a 2011 survey by the University of Virginia.

Becoming less materialistic

I'm not sure why our marriage survived the Great Recession while so many of our older friends filed for divorce. The Fiscal Times reported that the divorce rate for people who are over 50 doubled between 1990 and 2009. More baby boomers, also called members of the "me-generation," are responsible for the uptick in divorces. Most of the Gen-Xers I know are not as materialistic. Money problems as well as financial windfalls don't motivate us to throw money toward matrimonial lawyers. Maybe too many of us watched how divorces destroyed our baby boomer parents, some of whom are on their third or fourth marriages.

Some people may feel as they can finally afford to get divorced. However, it's not cheap to get a divorce. Divorce costs people thousands of dollars in legal fees we well as distress for family and friends. Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems marriages were stronger when people not only stuck with one spouse but lived in one home for their entire lives. It has to do with being happy with what you have instead of always wanting something new or "better."

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