This CPA Helps You File Taxes and Saves Your Marriage
Infidelity and pornography are two of the biggest reasons for America’s high — though declining — divorce rate.
But right up there are financial issues, especially among poorer Americans. And it is with divorce prevention in mind that Manassas, Virginia’s Chris Peden, President of Peden Accounting Services, brings two business cards every time he helps a couple with their taxes.
The Bedrock of Society
“Money is one of the leading causes of divorce, and it is usually because the spouses are not on the same page,” Peden told me. “What I do is give each spouse a business card and tell them that when they have a disagreement or are unsure about an action to take, give me a call so we can talk about it.” This outsider look allows for objectivity and gives Peden the chance to “present a solution in which they both have a vested interest.”
“Marriage is the bedrock of society,” he explained. “I have seen too many broken marriages that have an adverse effect on the kids. I was lucky to grow up in a very stable home with very few disagreements regarding money. This leads to a more stable home, which gives the kids stability to grow into well-adjusted adults.”
Peden says that accountants provide a number of benefits for couples. “By relying on a professional, you don’t spend the time you could spend with your family researching tax questions. Researching taxes leads to frustration, fights, and higher stress levels in the home. By turning to a pro, you can get the correct answer and get help implementing necessary changes.”
“Having an outsider’s perspective also takes the ego out of the situation. It’s now about the team, not a solution oriented to one spouse or the other after much bickering,” said Peden.
Finally, “by saving families money on taxes,” accountants help people have more money on hand to pay for everyday things as well as their dreams, explained Peden. “When you don’t have money for everyday things, it can lead to bickering and fighting between mom and dad. Through my work, I hope to cut down on this and help families live the life they dreamed about when they got married.”
The Blessings of Autism
Peden has become a problem-solver not just through his professional work, but also through raising two autistic children. “When everything revolves around your children’s issues, they really do become the most important thing in your lives. I have often said that if the kids had been neurotypical, I probably would have worked 80 hours a week in Tyson’s Corner with no time for the family. This could have led to divorce — so our kids being autistic may have saved my marriage!”
While he and his wife “do have our moments of self-pity,” Peden said they work hard “on finding solutions. If you need to find someone who can think of outside the box solutions to problems, talk to the parent of an autistic child. We specialize in coming up with solutions in the midst of chaos.”
Peden hasn’t kept his parenting wisdom private — he authored a book on parenting autistic children, “The Blessings of Autism: How raising a child with Autism helped develop my faith and my life better.” He and his wife also help less-experienced couples raising autistic children, including at Mass. “There are times when we see someone struggling with an autistic child, and you can see the embarrassment on their faces. We are able to go over and say, ‘It’s ok. Don’t worry about the looks. You are doing just fine. We have been where you are and you will be ok.’”
Keep Calm and Remove Your Ego
“It is what you do when things aren’t going well that is going to have the biggest impact” in a marriage, said Peden. “Keeping calm and being supportive in a moment of crisis will reap more rewards than two dozen roses.”
“In terms of money, take your ego out of money decisions. Just because you had spent money on something doesn’t you should continue to spend money on a bad solution. And just because your friends are doing something with their money doesn’t mean you have to follow them and do likewise. Talk to a professional who will help you hash out what needs to happen.”
Proven Media Solutions CEO Dustin Siggins is a parishioner of St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Peden Accounting Services handles Siggins’ taxes and is a syndicator of Proven Media Solutions’ monthly business principles column.