In the seminars I used to give about financial intimacy in marriage, some women confessed to social taboos they had never even shared with their friends. For example, one woman said” the nicest thing my husband did for me was die and save me the trouble of divorcing him.” Or the caregiver wife who admitted ‘he’s taking too long to die”. I remember also the financially abused wives who paid for the seminar in cash because they were afraid to write a check or put the seminar cost on their credit cards.
The stories we tell ourselves about why we do the things we do keep us from having to face some uncomfortable truths about ourselves. I did it too.
Like so many women I’ve met, my marriage had a public face and a private face. It endured because of protective fictions on my part that ate away at me slowly but steadily. Those fictions enabled the relationship to function.
It wasn’t until after I was widowed that I could admit to myself how relieved I was to be free of the financial risks and pressures I felt during our marriage. These years of being on my own have allowed me to live without the distorting filter of my husband’s preferences and dreams.
I was lucky; I had prepared financially to be a widow. If I had not taken the steps I write about in my book, I would never have recovered financially or emotionally from the burden of his death. I would never have forgiven him for risking my future safety to achieve his dreams. Protective fictions would have kept me from admitting that widowhood has given me a chance to live my own life.