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Are You Too Taxing With Your Spouse?

By: Donna Martin

It is almost income tax time.  Taxes can be taxing on a relationship as financial problems are one of the major causes of conflict in a marriage. However an unforgiving attitude can also tax a relationship.  I heard the following story the other day and thought about how it related to marriage.

She knew something was wrong when she heard the all familiar words expel from her husband’s mouth.

“Oh, Nooooo!”

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“I forgot to send in the check for our taxes,” he moaned as he stared at the delinquent notice that had just arrived in the mail.  “Now they are saying we have to pay a $252.85 late fee.”  The note arrived 14 days after the January 31, deadline and 7 days after the grace period.

They had lived in the same house for 45 years and had never been late with their tax payment.  In fact, her husband was very efficient at managing their money and set aside an amount every month so that when their taxes were due the money was there.  He had done the same thing this year, but the month of January had been very busy and stressful, and he had simply forgotten to write the check and send in the money.  Because of the couple’s “clean” record and because they lived in a small town where everyone knew each other, they decided that surely the tax appraiser would pardon their memory loss and not really burden them with this taxing fee.  So, they wrote a letter stating that in all of their 45 years of living in the same house in the same small town they had never missed a payment and asked the tax office to forgive them and to dismiss the fee.  They mailed the letter in with the payment minus the fee.

Fourteen days later they received another notice showing the amount that had been paid and stating that the couple still owed $252.85 for the late fee.  And, on top of that if they did not pay the fee by the next day, they would owe an additional $72.23.

So the next day the husband wrote the check and his wife took it to the tax office.  But she couldn’t just leave it without asking for forgiveness one more time. 

“We have lived here for 45 years she explained and this is the first and only time we have ever been late with our payment,” the wife explained.

The kind lady at the tax office said she wished she could do something about it, but the fee was just in the system and there was nothing that could be done.

“There must be something, the wife continued to beg.  Once there was a mix up on our Master Card bill and when I called to check about it, they corrected the problem and waived the late fee.  They didn’t even know me.  It seems like since my husband and I have been upstanding citizens in this community for over 40 years that the late fee could be forgiven.”

However, the lady at the tax office said that she was sorry , and that she understood, but nothing could be done.  She further explained that if the wife wanted to contact each of the entities listed on the bill and ask them if they would dismiss the late fee, she could try that.

The wife looked at the list of entities.  There were seven.  She thought for a moment about visiting each “entity” and asking for mercy, but then she decided that would be embarrassing and time consuming, so she paid the fine and left.  It didn’t seem fair. She thought that the people in her home town, the people who knew her would be much easier to deal with.  She left the tax office frustrated, stressed, disappointed, and a couple of hundred dollars poorer.

There is a point to this long story.  How many times have we been over taxing to our spouse?  They may have slipped up in some way that really hurt or disappointed us.  We don’t want to forgive them; we want to make them pay for the hurt they caused.  We make our own list of “entities” that they must conform to before we will forgive them.  Even though we know them better than anyone, we know all of the good things about them, all of the kindness they have shown through the years, but this one thing is too big, too hurtful.  So we hold on to our anger and continue to tax or put a strain on our relationship. 

We need to remember how the Master forgives us each day.  Make Colossians 3:13 the model for your forgiveness.  “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Forgiveness is important in building a “Happy Together” marriage.

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