Monthly Archives: June 2013

From Wife to Widow in a Second

Could you become one of the women in the statistics listed below? Absolutely. I was.

Demographers estimate that 1.25 million women will be widowed annually by 2040.

The average age a woman is widowed is 56.

There are currently 11.3 million widows and 2.6 million widowers.

700,000 women are widowed every year.

80% of women live longer than their husband

The average widow outlives her husband by 14 years.

Nearly 50% of women over 65 and 32% over 55 are widows.


I became a widow in a second when my husband died in an accident. That’s why I’m so passionate about wanting you to understand everything about your money before a crisis hits you.

Is your husband handling your marital finances? You need to get involved, participate, understand the whole financial picture. If you’re caught in the statistical profile, not knowing about your money will make life even harder for you. Here’s what you should do right now:

Explain to your husband that you’re worried about how you would cope on your own if something happened to him. (Show him the statistics I listed above.)

Tell your husband how much you appreciate everything he does for you and your life together. This is vitally important. You want his cooperation, not a confrontation. You don’t want him to feel you don’t trust him. It’s not about trust – you’re looking for information and participation.

Review your entire financial picture- everything you own, everything you owe. Know where your husband keeps the financial records, how to access them and what they mean! Be sure the information is up-to-date.

Make sure your husband has sufficient life insurance with you as the beneficiary. CONFIRM THAT THE PREMIUM PAYMENTS ARE PAID ON TIME! If even one payment is late, that will cancel the policy.

Draw up a will, a revocable trust with you as executor and trustee and the powers of attorney for health care and financial decisions. Get the help of a legal professional to make sure you’re doing it right. If you miss even one thing, that might invalidate all of them.

Don’t count on anyone else to take care of these things for you. No one has a higher stake in understanding your money than you do!


Redefining Husband and Wife

Ellen De Generis has one. So do Rosie O’Donnell, Suze Orman and Meredith Baxter. Before my husband died, I used to be one.  I often dreamed of having one.

With the emergence of same-sex marriage as a legal reality, will we need to find a new word for wife as we did when Ms. entered our life as a substitute for Miss or Mrs?

In a gay marriage, will husband take on a whole new meaning? In a lesbian marriage, who will be the wife?  Is wife a job description? Will a wife take her ‘husband’s name’? Will husband and wife only apply to straight marriages?

It’s very exciting. I think same-sex marriage will change the institution of marriage in ways that will benefit straight marriages. By providing a new model for how two people can live together equitably and create a stable environment for children to flourish, this evolution of marriage may lighten the load of assumptions and stereotypes that create resentment and stress in heterosexual marriages. Without gender stereotypes, marriage may free a couple to shed the burdens of what is male, what is female and focus instead on the partnership that modern marriage can be.

We’re barely at the beginning of this social experiment.  Just as the womens movement redefined marriage, divorce and the role of women in society, same-sex marriage may make the terms ‘husband and wife’ obsolete. Marriage vows that ask “Do you take ____ to be your lawfully wedded partner….. bode well for more egalitarian marriages – and possibly, less divorce.

What Makes Good Marriages Work

Dr. John Gottman has studied what makes marriages succeed or fail since 1973. Using his insight, he has been able to tell with over 90% accuracy the future of a marriage.  These marriage tips have been gleaned from years of his research.

1. Seek help early.  Instead of waiting the average time of six years before looking for outside assistance, seek help as soon as a problem makes itself known.

2. Edit yourself.  Honesty is important, but making every single critical or negative thought known just hurts your partner.

3. Soften your “start up.”  When a problem comes up, instead of beginning with an angry confrontation, bring up your concerns gently and with care.

4. Accept influence.  Both parties need to be able to accept and change feelings and plans due to the influence of the other party, but this is especially important to remember in the case of the husband accepting his wife’s influence (as women are more likely to accept male influence due to the culture at large).

5. Have high standards.  Don’t tolerate bad behavior until it reaches a breaking point.  Hold yourselves and one another to the highest reasonable standard.

6. Learn to repair and/or exit the argument.  If an argument isn’t getting anywhere, change the subject, make a humorous or caring remark to lighten the mood, establish a common ground, and back down when necessary.  If an argument is especially heated, agree to take a 20-minute recess to cool down and then re-approach the situation with more level heads.

7. Focus on the bright side.  Cultivate a positive climate rather than a negative one in your marriage.  Continually say kind and loving things to your partner and about your relationship…these affirmations will only become more true with time.




Appearances are Deceiving

When Leslie and Don married, she had a great sales job with an international start-up. She loved the travel, the pace and challenge of contributing to the growth of the company. Don had recently sold his software company to a competitor.

When they married, he wanted children right away; Leslie wanted to work a few more years. Don was charming, insistent, seductive. The baby was born during their first year of marriage. Leslie intended to return to work,
but Don insisted they had enough money so she didn’t have to work.

Leslie hadn’t managed her money well before marriage. Her credit wasn’t good. She was counting on high commissions and stock options to offset her modest salary . Unfortunately, she quit her job before either of these things could kick in.

When Don insisted on a prenuptial agreement, Leslie didn’t object. Divorce never entered her mind.

Leslie is now totally dependent on Don. She moved into his house when they married. He handles all their finances. She sees none of the bank or brokerage statements; they are addressed to him or sent to his office. She has a debit card which he checks daily. He insists on seeing all receipts and purchases. She has a Nordstrom card.

To an observer, Leslie appears to have everything. However, she has effectively been isolated and hemmed in by Don’s financial restrictions. If she tries to get more financial freedom, she may discover that Don is a clever and manipulative abuser who will claim he just wants her to have everything – that is, everything he will allow her to have.