Monthly Archives: April 2013

Intimacy in Marriage and Business

A marriage is like a business that two people who love each other are building together.

People don’t like to think about their marriage as having a business component. It’s called marital finances – MONEY –how much comes in, how much goes out, what it’s spent on and how much is saved. Money, this ‘thing’ we think will take care of itself if only we love each other enough, is a huge factor in breaking up marriages.

There’s no romance or illusion involved in running a business. But there is intimacy – financial intimacy – that makes all the finances transparent for each of the partners. Financial information is shared, discussed and agreed upon. Neither partner commits the other before consulting with them.

Would you hide purchases from a business partner? Would you commit to investments your partner didn’t know about? Would you spend needed capital on something you couldn’t resist and then try to justify it?

People have a double standard when it comes to building a business and building a marriage. That’s too bad. Going into marriage, it’s all about love. Coming out of marriage, it’s all about money.


Protecting Seniors from ‘Senior’ Advisors

Be wary of any financial professional with letters after his or her name, especially those who designate themselves as a ‘senior advisor’.

According to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Older Americans, Americans over 60 make up 15 percent of the population, but are estimated to account for 30 percent of investment fraud victims. Older people may have money they have saved for retirement, and cognitive decline may make them more vulnerable. They are also more likely to rely on recommendations from someone with a “senior advisor” credential.

That’s the problem. There are currently more than 50 “senior certification” designations in use. Who can tell the difference between  A.R.A., an A.R.P.C., a C.S.A. or a C.R.F.A.?

The Bureau estimates that “tens of thousands” of professionals, including financial advisers, brokers and insurance agents, use some sort of senior credential. That means older adults will continue to be vulnerable to bad advice and even outright fraud.

Initials tell you nothing about a financial advisor’s training .  Some credentials require a specific level of coursework, but others don’t require any.You can find out about the background of thousands of registered investment advisors at




The Wedding To-Do List

Just about now, millions of May and June brides have a to- do checklist about details for the wedding. Gift registry, venue, invitations, music, reception menu, favors, flowers,   bridesmaid’s dresses, wedding gown, tuxedo, cake, rings, photographer, videographer…All the stuff that modern brides believe they must have.

I’ll bet that if I checked the to do-list of a million of those brides, I wouldn’t find a reference to FICO scores, budgets, premarital financial counseling, checking accounts, community or separate property or any other aspects of the financial life the couple will share.

The soon to be marrieds may never have had The Conversation, or any conversation, about money and how they will handle it in their marriage. They may be counting on their love to handle any conflicts that come up about money.

She may not want to anger him by bringing up the money subject – again. He may not know how vital it is to discuss money. If they can’t do it before marriage, it will only be more uncomfortable for them as husband and wife.

No one enters marriage believing they will be part of the one third of couples who divorce. Bathed in love, fantasy and hope, too many newlyweds take one of the biggest steps in their life with less preparation about their ‘job’ than McDonald’s workers get.

I recently met a bride to be who assured me everything would probably work out all right because they both had their own credit cards, and their plan was to pay things off slowly. I didn’t know where to start explaining that this wasn’t a good plan. All I could do was hand her a copy of my book. Hopefully, she’ll read it as part of her wedding to do list.



Divorce as Opening to Friendship

Divorce doesn’t have to be a battleground. What we need is a different frame of reference.

When my first husband and I divorced after 18 years, we realized we were two perfectly fine individuals who just couldn’t make it together. He was a good man; I was a good woman. We grew apart over the years and no longer shared the same values, interests or desires.

No one was to blame. We didn’t have to cast each other in the role of villain. Neither of us was victimized. We shared responsibility for not trying harder to keep our marriage intact. Our children endured the pain of divorce. At the time, neither of us knew how to ease that.

A few years after our divorce, my ex met a woman who is perfect for him. They are still married after 25 years. She was wonderful to our girls, and to me. I liked her and included her in family events.  My second husband liked that we all got along. His ex-wife didn’t think that was all right, so she wasn’t part of our life.

My ex and his wife are still an integral part of our small family. I love them both. It took a while for their friends to understand how exes could remain so close. On the other hand, I don’t understand how people who divorce spend years vilifying and blaming their ex, especially to their children.

When a marriage doesn’t work out, it’s easier to blame than to accept responsibility. Imperfect people with unmet needs marry each other and expect that their mate will make them happy. That’s the subtext in the fine print. I used to believe that too. So maybe the question to ask after divorce is “How did I grow from this experience and what have I learned about myself?”

That’s why the growing trend towards collaborative divorce is so encouraging.

Divorce can be the beginning of friendship. Don’t treat it as the end.

Here Comes the Bride

Hilary Price, a wonderful cartoonist, has a drawing in which a man is kneeling in front of a woman, holding an open jewelry box with an engagement ring. He is saying, “Let’s assume each other’s debt. Trade in our independence for security and societal approval and celebrate with an event that will have cost overruns in the thousands.

I’ve been accused of being cynical, a spoil sport who doesn’t believe in romance. Someone who wants  to take the romance out of weddings. Not so. I want something much more important. I want to put the intimacy back in.

What’s so romantic about starting married life with thousands of dollars in debt due to wedding bills paid for with credit cards? It’s not romantic when bride and groom are still paying off the bride’s perfect wedding as they prepare for the arrival of baby.

It’s not the groom who amasses the cost overruns. All he wants is to get out of there and get on to the honeymoon. But the bride has believed from the time she played Barbie’s Fantasy Wedding that a ‘perfect’ wedding guarantees ‘happily ever after’.

Sometimes that works; more often it doesn’t. How much more loving and mature would this couple be if they traded in romantic thinking about wedding costs for a financially intimate look at what they can really afford?