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Generation X: Starter Marriages

BOSTON (CBS) - These marriages last less than five years and the couple ends up splitting very few assets, because there are very few assets to split. Or worse, they end up splitting the debt they've accumulated.

This is an expensive dress rehearsal for the real thing. Average cost of a wedding today in the U.S. is almost $26,000. Doing some local research I found that here in the Boston area weddings cost about the national average.

Pamela Paul coined the phrase, "Starter Marriage" with her book, The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony. She talks about the wedding as being the prize that the couple has focused on and not the next 50 years together. Once the wedding is over they have nothing in common.

Starter marriages are not new. We all know of a young couple that seemed to have it all, maybe even lived together for a time, got married, and then just as quickly divorced.

Studies have shown that living together before the wedding does not give a couple an edge in creating a lasting relationship. And more and more couples are living together because it is cheaper to combine households.

Marriage should not be treated as a throw away commodity. Getting married requires commitment from both parties, emotional as well as financial. The standard line in marriage vows is that you will take care of each other. And that does require a financial commitment to create a stronger family unit.

But either way, marriage or living together you need to do some planning as a couple so you don't end up as a statistic. Always being practical, I believe you should be having the money conversation with your significant other long before you start to pack the boxes to move in together. No matter how awkward it is. There are financial and legal issues to work out.

Do you want to buy a house together? Will it take both your incomes to buy the house? If you break up, will one of you buy out the other? You should have a contract or an agreement in place that covers that possibility. Owning a home 50-50 sounds good, but if one should die without a proper will, their 50% could go to their heirs and now you own your home with your boyfriend's mom. Not a good situation.

A book you might find helpful is Money Without Matrimony by Deb Neiman, who is a local financial planner.

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