“The effects of rampant materialism are, according to research, pretty damaging to the human psyche. An international survey of over 90,000 people published in the journal BMC Medicine found a direct correlation between wealth and depression. Wealthier countries recorded higher levels of mental illness, while citizens in poorer countries were happier and better adjusted.”

From Ben Cohen, Why Wanting to Be Rich is a Form of Mental Illness, Huff Post, 04/12/2012


                It’s true. Sure money is great, and it will buy you lots of stuff, if you need more stuff. Of course you’ve already realized having more stuff is having to maintain it, clean it, store it, repair it, and so on.


                Did any of us ever really need that blender that sits on the counter top taking up space and gathering grease splatters? Yes, you made juice and all kinds of cool things for a week or two and now it just occupies a square of your kitchen counter and glares at you, since you just don’t have time to stop and actually put things into it and then, turn it on and then drink whatever it is and then clean the entire thing, blades and all and then put it back in its place on your counter top. Easier to go get a smoothie on your way to buy more stuff you just have to have (please, those of you who actually use your blender, realize I’m trying to make a point here and not speaking for all the blenders in the world).


                At the mall, I watch women shop for clothes, since they only have three or four closets full already, o.k. one or two. Her eyes glaze over, and I know she’s dropped down into a light trance as she imagines wearing a red, silk dress, cut low in the back or front or both, while he keeps a firm hand on her back as he guides her around the dance floor, gazing lovingly into her eyes and telling she really is the most beautiful woman in the world.


                I also know he’s just as likely to be at home trying to figure out how long he has to watch the game on his new flat screen, wide screen, 6,789,000,000 pixels of brilliant color, hung on the wall, TV because he has a “honey do” list to complete before she gets back from getting more stuff. He’s hoping to join the bass derby this year because his buddy just bought a new aluminum boat and a new motor for it so they can go pretty far out into the bay to fish. He wants to buy a new rod and reel because that photo of him in the newspaper, the front page of the newspaper, proudly holding up the biggest bass in one hand and his rod and reel in the other can’t have him holding some shabby old equipment that makes him look like a poor person, even if he is a poor person (if he’s not a one percenter he’s on his way).


                The last thing he wants to do is go ballroom dancing. He’d rather wash the windows in his birthday suit than go all the way into the city to sit at a tiny table and pay huge prices for drinks with names he’s never heard of while she’s expecting something from him that he’s not giving her, or she wouldn’t be glaring at him like that.  And he really doesn’t want to be on a dance floor when he could be lying on his couch, comfortable after a hard week’s work.


                The only thing she wants is for him to be romantic, to act passionate about her, to hold her hand like he did when they first met, before they had kids. The last thing she wants is for him to be wasting their household money for bass derby tickets, a new rod and reel, bait, and then to be gone all weekend while she takes the kids over to her mother’s house.


                She wants to dance, he wants to fish. That’s great. That really is great. Couples need to have individual time and together time. They also need to try to keep passion in their marriage. It won’t just happen after a few years of togetherness, so dancing can’t hurt, they are close to each other as they dance, and it’s out of the house, and she’s pleased. And even if he doesn’t win the bass derby he’ll have a lot of fun trying.


                So what’s my point you’re asking yourself. My point is that the above is just one small example of how people get caught up in buying things, more stuff, so they can realize a dream. And it’s not going to work. She’s going to get mad at him for spending money and leaving her alone with the kids all weekend. He’s going to think she’s wasting money shopping again when she doesn’t need another dress. He’s going to be passive aggressive and not take her dancing because she’s so wasteful and she doesn’t understand him. Each will feel misunderstood. Each will resent the other for not understanding. Tension will mount when they don’t have enough money to pay all of the bills that month or the credit card debt climbs higher.


News flash: The fish isn’t going to care what his fishing gear looks like, he’ll win or not, based on luck and skill, not on his acquisition of new fishing stuff. He loves her in any dress she has in her closet. She’s going to have to ask him and ask him nicely to take her dancing. She can’t let her disappointment at discovering he’s just a guy, her guy, but just a guy, avert her from being a woman on a mission. Women know how to get what they want and they know how to let off steam because it feels good. The two aren’t compatible. If he takes her dancing in a dress that’s lovely and already in her closet because she loved him into it, she’s not going to mind if he tries to catch the big one. If they tell each other how much they love each other, overlook the flaws that come with humans, all humans, and take the time to please and be pleasing, each one will be rewarded, get what they want and need and it isn’t more stuff or more money to buy more stuff.