There's no right way for married couples to manage their money. But there are plenty of wrong ways. "Financial issues are the primary reason for 90 percent of divorce cases I handle," says John Thyden, a prominent Washington, D.C., divorce attorney. "But it isn't necessarily the amount of money a couple has that tends to trip them up. It's the differences in their spending habits and especially their lack of communication."
However, as demonstrated by the three couples profiled here, husbands and wives with differing financial habits and attitudes can make things work — if they're willing to be honest with each other and to bend a bit. "We definitely have our share of conflicts over finances," confesses Michelle Maidenberg. "But we deal with them in a respectful way." Each of the pairs has found smart solutions to overcome their money issues. Their clever techniques may work for you, too.
Picking their battles: Michelle, 37, a psychotherapist, spends money much more readily than her husband, Eric, 38, a banker. Case in point: a planned addition and renovations to the New Rochelle, NY, home that they share with their three young sons, 7, 4, and 2.
For a year, Michelle has urged Eric to agree on taking step one: hiring an architect to sketch the plans, at a cost of $30,000. But Eric, a self-described "calculated decision maker," refuses to commit a cent until he learns the amount of his annual bonus: "I'm not willing to say yes until we know we'll have the money to do the work."
That's an impasse that could've led to fighting — but in the Maidenbergs' case, it didn't. Even though she and her husband are on different timetables, Michelle is confident the project will get done, so she's willing to postpone until Eric is more comfortable. That kind of ebb-and-flow approach has worked well for them. Says Michelle: "If I sense Eric will give in when he feels more comfortable about the cost, I don't argue; I just wait him out."
In other situations, she compromises to get her way — as in a skirmish, during her most recent pregnancy, at a maternity-clothing store. "In my first trimester, I really needed some items to help me transition from regular things to pregnancy clothes. When we got to the cashier, the total was several hundred dollars and I could tell Eric was annoyed (partly at the price, and partly because it had taken me over an hour to find things I liked). So I suggested the clothes be his birthday present to me. Basically, I traded a future gift for clothes I felt I needed — and it worked! He paid with a smile and even gave me a kiss, saying, 'Happy birthday!' And I never heard about it afterward."
The Maidenbergs say if you're half of a couple where well-intentioned caution can slow money decisions to a crawl, the secret is sensitivity. "If there's something I want, I speak Eric's language," says Michelle. "That means using logic and pointing out the costs and benefits, so he sees that a purchase does make sense for us."
Learning to complement each other: Many couples have a spender and a saver. But Bob and Cindy Charest of Westbrook, ME, are partners in a band, and blend approaches into one harmonious style.
Their money partnership goes like this: A penny-pincher who loves to splurge (Cindy) is married to a free spender with a knack for saving on large expenses and keeping finances on track (Bob). Says Cindy: "I save first, then spend; Bob spends first, then saves."
Cindy, 52, known to friends as "Save-a-Buck Cin," comes by the nickname honestly: "I'm constantly turning lights off around the house." But piling up the pennies doesn't preclude a love for extravagances, like a recent European trip with children Leigh, 18, and Mark, 15.
Bob, 55, tends to spend small and often. And while he'd probably ignore the penny on the street, Bob is cautious about serious outlays. Example: A boiler company estimated it would cost $3,000 to repair their furnace. Bob grabbed a wrench, researched the job, and did it himself for a sliver of the estimate.
The formula generally works because the Charests know it can. So Bob and Cindy defer to each other's money strengths. Bob knows Cindy's thriftiness helps make the family's blowouts possible. Cindy applauds Bob's eye for the larger financial picture: "I'm a horrible money manager, so I willingly delegate that job to Bob," she says. "If I were paying the bills, we'd be in jail."
Letting the best money manager manage the money: Before Jan Dahlin Geiger and her husband, Jerry, of Atlanta got married 15 years ago — each for the second time — they were financial opposites. Jan Dahlin, 58, a financial planner, was debt averse. "I was saving 10 percent for retirement and my kids' college fund and did not have a cent of debt, other than a $50,000 mortgage," she says. By his own admission, Jerry, 66, a sales executive, earned a lot and spent a lot. With his shiny cars, a divorce that cost him six figures, and more than $10,000 in credit card and other debt, he was deep in the red. "It was an addiction," he says. "I got into the habit of spending whatever I had. I had to borrow money, because I was spending in anticipation of making it." Jan Dahlin sums it up: "He spent money like a wild man."
And she was horrified. Through her work, Jan Dahlin had seen many people's lives ruined by financial recklessness. "My first response was, 'I can't marry him,'" she says. "I told him if he wanted to marry me, we needed to make hard choices."
Realizing he had to either change or remain single, Jerry sat down and discussed finances with Jan Dahlin. Then he agreed to a comprehensive money overhaul, including:
- Paying down his debts: Some $110,000 in loans and credit card interest was erased in two years.
- Not keeping up with the Joneses: The Geigers agreed to buy a $200,000 home rather than the half-million-dollar one Jerry craved.
- Other trade-downs: Gone are the BMWs and Cadillacs. Now he tools around in a used Dodge minivan.
- Monthly reviews: To track their financial progress.
Jerry concedes that changing his ways wasn't easy: "It was like shock treatment. I remember how I struggled to come to terms with the less expensive house." But when he retires at 67, "we'll be able to take an awesome vacation every month if we want to," says Jan Dahlin. "I can honestly say we have had few fights over money. And our net worth today is about 1,000 percent of what it was 15 years ago."
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Essay on Main Causes of Divorce
609 Words3 Pages
One of the main things people do when they feel great chemistry between one another is get married. Some couples are unable to maintain their relationship and they get a divorce; which is one of the solutions to solve the problems between husband and wife. Most people think carefully before they get married however the divorce rates are continuously increasing.
There are three main causes of divorce: changing in woman’s roles, stress in modern living, and lack of communication. The first significant cause of recent rise in the rates of divorce is a woman’s role being completely changed. In the past, men had to earn all the money to afford the expenses of the family, whereas woman only did housework. That led to the woman having no money…show more content…
Many people who live in globalization have considerable pressures to earn money. Some people cannot maintain their high maintenance lifestyle and are forced to settle for less. Consequently, their spouse may feel like they have settled for less and decide they may be better suited for someone else. This usually occurs when people just marry for money or material things. Those type of marriages usually never last and end in a horrible divorce.
The final cause of recently increasing divorce is lack of communication. Owing to financial status in each family, many people are fairly busy. For this reason, they have inadequate time to talk to their spouse about their problems. Consequently, that usually causes divorce. Some couples are often quiet when they have problems with each other. Soon their little problems expand to big problems, resulting in divorce. Maybe if people communicated more with their partner divorce rates would be increasing so drastically.
In addition to the three causes I mentioned, there are also two effects of divorce. Most couples normally have children when they get married. Divorces can directly affect the children of the couple. Children living in a single parent house hold are more likely to get pregnant as a teenager, drop out in high school, abuse drugs, and have aggressive emotional and behavioral problems. Some children decide to leave their home and subsequently become homeless and they do not have good opportunities to find a job due