“How’s the newlyweds coming along?” asked a middle-aged friend who has four married children.
“Oh, they are experiencing the usual financial problems: Not enough money, learning how to handle a budget, stuff like that, but doing fine otherwise,” I said.
She looked over at a mutual friend who has two married children. They exchanged the knowing looks of parents who have watched their married children go through the same stage we all did 25 years ago and we all began laughing.
Welcome son and wife to the early years of poverty. Fresh from college with education bills, marriage and moving expenses, they are still suffering sticker shock for their simple efficiency apartment and a budget that cannot buy everything they want right now.
But they are making progress.
When my son first moved to Austin, he cleaned out my extra kitchen supplies and household furnishings. A twin mattress on the floor was enough for only him, but adding a wife complicated matters.
For their first Christmas her mother gave them the ideal set of pots and pans and his father built them a bed. My kitchen equipment came back and their bed went to them.
And what a bed!
Under the queen-sized platform, my husband built in a dozen over-sized drawers for storing. Hidden in the bookshelf headboard are secret drawers with the trays of divided compartments and pop-out mini-shelves for eating in bed.
Disassembled it fit into the back of an extended mini-van – barely.
“A couple inches larger and I would not have been able to shut the gate,” hubby said.
But he didn’t and it did.
He was proud of his work and they felt rich.
With their mattress and sheets, they suddenly moved up in the world. Off the floor, into the air.
“You don’t know what it’s done for my self-esteem to be sleeping off the floor,” the bride sighed after the first night.
Sunday night, they had to tell everyone of their good fortune at their weekly discussion and Bible study group with other young couples.
While they waited for the group leaders to come, Alexis described their wonderful bed. She told how it made their mini-apartment feel more like a real place and how important she felt moving up in the world.
The group leaders who have only been married a year or so, arrived just as she was at the height of sharing the excitement of finally having a bed.
Alexis went bouncing over to them.
“Hi!” she smiled up at them. “Guess what? We got a bed!” She waited for their questions and approving comment.
The couple, in their late 20s, past the initial years of paying off college bills and setting up apartments, looked at each other.
They looked at my sweet young things in their early 20s and smiled.
“That’s nice. We got a house this week.”
And then there are those who have so much, that they never experience the early years of marital poverty, when there’s never quite enough money.