Tag Archives: couples

What You Can’t Do When You Marry

You can remind, you can nag, you can plea, but  no matter how much you may want to, if you’re married, you can’t plan for your future without your husband’s  cooperation.

You can’t write your husband’s will. You can’t take his medical exam for life insurance or long-term care insurance. You can’t be his health care proxy if he doesn’t assign you durable powers of attorney to make medical decisions for him. You can’t be comfortable about your marital finances if he doesn’t share financial information with you.

You need your husband’s cooperation to protect yourself against what you would face if he were disabled or died. If your husband doesn’t face the fact that he’s mortal like you and me, your hands are tied. If all he does is reassure you not to worry about a thing, that doesn’t do anything for you except lull you into a false sense of security.

You can’t make your husband protect your financial interests in case your marriage ends. If it ends in divorce, chances are you’ll be in a combative position with him.  If it ends in death, it’s too late to do anything constructive about your financial situation.

You expect him to want to protect you because he says he loves you. But let’s get real. A marriage is as much a legal and financial partnership with obligations on both sides. But people have different definitions of love, and we can rarely be sure we’re ascribing the same characteristics to your love and his love.

If he won’t cooperate with you to get you the financial protection you need, it’s safe to assume that his definition of love doesn’t match yours. For me, that would be a deal breaker.

Financial Abuse Still a Woman’s Problem

Every year, thousands of people search the web for the phrase ‘financial abuse’. Many find their way to my website. I suspect most of those searches are by women.

They search for information because they are trapped in relationships in which they fear their mate, or don’t know their legal rights. Perhaps they fear for their children and don’t know where to get help. They also know that their mate is capable of escalated abuse.

That’s why it’s important for women to understand that financial control can be a precursor to future physical and emotional abuse. Women find out too late that the husband or boyfriend won’t talk about money. He is really saying “I’m in charge here”.

Many wives suffer in silence, thinking that such controlling behavior is a personality quirk. It’s not a quirk; it’s a sign and you should pay attention to it.  It’s not protective; it’s not loving. It’s a desire to control the relationship. If you’re married,  you are legally entitled to know what’s happening financially in your marriage.

You may know someone who you suspect is financially abused. On the other hand, you may not know that your neighbor, acquaintance or friend is a financial hostage because she won’t tell you. She’s afraid to rock the boat, fearful for her children, knowing that her hands are tied financially.

You may know her husband, and never suspect a thing. He’s not out of control or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He can be charming, an upstanding member of the community, the life of the party. He can also be a control freak with the intent to isolate his wife into a state of total financial dependence.

Beware these Signs of Financial Abuse

Controlling the finances.
Withholding money or credit cards.
Giving you an allowance.
Making you account for every penny you spend.
Stealing from you or using your money without asking.
Exploiting your assets for personal gain
Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter).
Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.
Sabotaging your job (making you miss work or calling constantly, etc.)

If something about your relationship with your husband or partner scares you and you need to talk, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or go to http://www.nrcdv.org
If you know someone who needs this information, please pass it on. It could be a life saver for her.

Job first, then the Wedding

This post is verbatim from an Ask Amy column, written by Amy Dickinson, one of the smartest, most practical and ethical syndicated columnists. Thank you Amy!!

Dear Amy, Our son got engaged. He is 26 and after spending eight years in college, he did not get a degree. He and his fiancee live with her parents. Our son wants to be an actor. After many conversations, he has let us know that he is ‘on track’ with his profession and will not pursue full-time work. This couple does nothing but watch TV, post on Facebook and participate in local acting gigs.

My wife had a conversation with the mother of the bride-to-be about wedding plans. It did not go well. The couple wants to have an elaborate and expensive wedding. My wife told the mother we would not contribute money to indulge the couple in this type of venue or discuss wedding plans until they became more motivated and employed. This infuriated the mother of the bride-to-be. She called my wife manipulative and said she was using this tactic as leverage not to pay for half the wedding. My wife was trying to make a point that the focus needs to be on the motivation and employment of these adults. Are we wrong in our thinking?

A concerned dad

Dear Dad,

You should not be discussing this wedding with the fiancee’s parents, but with the couple. Whenever someone asks you to pay for something, this puts you in a position to make a choice about the proposed investment. If the fiancee’s mother says you are trying to manipulate through money, you can truthfully respond,”Damn straight, we are.”

Couples should finance their own weddings. If they want money from you, then they are going to have to be brave enough to lay out their case, and not send mommy to do their asking. Basically, you and your wife are doing what the fiancee’s parents won’t do – setting firm boundaries and making sound financial choices.

Your stance should be,”We are not against this marriage, but if the couple wants this fancy wedding, they should get jobs, save up, and contribute toward it. If they do, then we will reconsider our position.”

Amen and thank you again, Amy!

“Don’t You Trust Me?”

How many women hear this question from their fiancée before the wedding?  It happens more often than you think.

Who wants to spoil the euphoria of wedding plans and the excitement of honeymoon planning by discussing money? Many women won’t take a chance of bringing up a subject which, in the past, has made her future husband impatient, sometimes even angry?

“Why are you always thinking about money?” he had said. “Didn’t we agree we’d talk about that after the honeymoon?” This is not a good sign for how he will handle discussions of money after you’re married.

If you wait until after the honeymoon, it’s too late. Once you say “I Do”, you become one half of a legal and financial contractual unit called a marriage. You don’t like to think of your marriage that way, but in the eyes of the law, that’s what it is. Every financial decision your husband makes, with your knowledge, or without it, will affect you in the future.

How unfortunate that couples will seek premarital counseling for sex, religion, parenting or conflict  resolution, but few sign on for financial coaching and money issues.  Few women plan on being widowed or divorced. Too many cede control of finances to their husband, leaving them unprepared to cope on their own in case their marriage ends.

Don’t let this happen to you. Get involved in the finances before you marry. Don’t wait till after the honeymoon. It’s not about trusting your future husband. It’s about understanding your joint finances, asking questions because you deserve answers and participating as an equal partner.

What Suze Orman Doesn’t Know

I admire Suze Orman. She’s one of the best writers about financial information. Her writing is clear and conversational; the information accurate and easy to understand. I recommend her books to the women who take my seminars. I’ve included her books as part of the suggested reading list in my book “Don’t Worry about a Thing, Dear “- Why Women Need Financial Intimacy.

However, Suze, by her own description, is a lesbian and has never been in a relationship with a man.  She’s never been held hostage by the cultural forces that millions of women experience in relationship to their husband. She’s never been legally bound to a man who raises his voice in anger, or stonewalls his wife, or refuses to share financial information with her or blocks her access to marital financial records. Suze is never in financial danger because someone else is making financial decisions without her knowledge.

Suze never raised children; her nurturing instincts as a mom weren’t tested by children whom luck or life dealt a raw deal and now they expect mom to bail them out. She is a free agent, unencumbered by the cultural and emotional baggage that millions of women experience as wives and mothers.

It’s easy for Suze to provide financial information and millions rely on her advice. What’s harder is for married women to act on her advice, especially in the nine community property states, where a woman’s financial well-being is legally and financially entwined with her husband. Few things will stop a woman from asking for financial information from a husband who refuses to share financial information and snarls, ‘Why do you want to know? Are you planning to divorce me?’

That’s when you need advice from women who have been there. Find out more at http://www.financialintimacy.com

Financial Vulnerability in Marriage

It’s counterintuitive to think about divorce when you marry. Few women do. Without thinking of the consequences of letting our husband manage our money, we set ourselves up for financial vulnerability. We trust him to be making financial choices that will benefit us both.

Sometimes he does.  Sometimes he doesn’t.  Most of the time, he’s not thinking of his future without us.

Money is never about money. It’s about what we fear and what we want, what we learned from our family, and how comfortable we feel discussing a touchy subject with our mate. It’s about power and leverage – who has it, how is it used, who is affected by it. It’s about the working dynamics of a relationship. A marriage can’t function without  the ability to talk about money.

Unfortunately, if we’re not participating in the marital finances, we don’t find out how vulnerable we are until a crisis of widowhood or divorce changes our life.  Not being able to talk about money comfortably, either before or during marriage, makes women financially vulnerable and resentful.

Here are six questions to answer for yourself before you’re slammed with a crisis:

Am I participating in financial decisions with my husband?

Do I understand our marital finances?

What do I need financially to feel secure?

How would I manage if I were widowed or divorced?

Do I sign documents without understanding them?

Do I know the location of all our financial records?

There are many more questions and answers in my book. The information can help make you financially intimate and feeling safe.


The Tyranny of Money

It happened again, but you won’t find it online or in the newspaper. The wealthy banker saw to that. The police knew the couple. A number of domestic violence calls, two trips to the emergency room for broken ribs. No news coverage, all hush hush.

This time, the police found her in her gray Lexus in a no parking zone at sunrise. Slumped inside a mink coat, her head tipped against the window, jaw slack, mouth open. Her diamond necklace and rings sparkled in the morning light.

One of the officers knocked on the window; she didn’t respond. They pried the door open on the passenger side. The car smelled from alcohol. They recognized her as one of the top fundraisers for the annual community event benefiting the police and fire departments.

An ambulance raced her to hospital emergency where doctors tried to wake her. A blood sample determined that she taken sleeping pills with vodka. They pumped her stomach and checked her in for further tests. It didn’t look like an accident.

When they reached her husband, in Paris for a banking conference, he was furious. “No, he couldn’t return that day, he had an important meeting. He’d call the kids. They’d handle it.” Thousands of dollars on a shrink, he thought,  and she was still pulling this kind of stunt.

“No, nothing was any different now,” he said in response to their question. Oh, one thing – he’d filed for divorce earlier in the week.

Could the police keep the car incident out of the papers?” he asked. “Maybe they could, but the divorce filing is public information,” they answered. “We can’t do anything about that.”

He slammed the phone down. “Bitch – the damn woman was always messing things up for him.”



Couples Rethink Wedding Costs

Many couples are beginning to function in the real world, trading extravagant credit card weddings for an event they can actually afford. These savvy couples are beginning to run their numbers , rearrange priorities and ask questions that really matter.

For example, wouldn’t $30,000 pay off the graduate school loans? Do we really need 200 wedding guests? If a wedding lunch costs half of a wedding dinner, do we really need moonlight? Do we really need the DJ’s banter in between dance numbers? Perhaps most important, should our parents really be cutting into their retirement savings to pay for our wedding?

Finally, a glimmer of reason is emerging. Couples are moving up wedding dates for year-end tax breaks and substantial savings on health insurance premiums. Some are combining plans to marry with a year-end vacation.  And then there’s the ultimate voice of reason – the couple that realizes that the cost of their wedding day could be the down payment on a house.

Unfortunately, with two million weddings annually in the U.S., the $160 billion wedding industry isn’t tightening its belt just yet. I’m hoping that couples who marry are mature enough to realize that a lavish wedding doesn’t have much to do with a happy marriage.

An Honest Letter to the Bride

I’m thrilled that you’ve found the man of your dreams. But frankly, your choosing to be married at a posh resort outside Aspen is going to present financial challenges for us, your invited guests.

Was nothing available closer to home? Ater all, most of us live in San Francisco. Yes, I know you’re sentimental about having met in Aspen, when you took a tumble on the ski slope and he helped you up, and you just knew you were meant for each other. But fifty people will be traveling to Aspen when you could have been married on the slopes at Lake Tahoe.

Sure you’re special, but you’re costing me a lot more than I intended to spend. I know you managed to get deluxe accommodations for all of us and the best meals and entertainment. The $1,200 it will cost me to be at your wedding ( not including the gift from the registry) is really a financial stretch, especially since your out-of-town wedding is the third one I’ve been invited to this year.

Of course, it’s your special day, and a wedding is (theoretically) once in a lifetime. But promise me, that if you marry again ( and statistics show that’s not impossible), you’ll  either pay my way for your wedding weekend or you’ll remarry closer to home.


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.