Warning: What you are about to read will be disturbing to many. Women and children should leave the room now. Men with a queasy stomach should also take a step back. This post is so volatile LinkedIn will not allow you to post this to their site even though your life depends on it. Facebook is good with it, however. (Note: I jest. All social media outlets allow this post.)
Money is the leading cause of divorce in the United States and in most Western countries. Marriages survive infidelity better than money problems. The worst part is how expensive divorce is and since money issues are the leading cause of divorce, it doesn’t solve the problem.
Then we need to think of the children. They suffer disproportionately. Adults have at least some control over their actions and the outcome. Children are helpless victims in the middle of elevated negative emotions. The damage is significant and lifelong.
Every marriage has its challenges. Forty-one percent of first marriages end in divorce. Abundant data on divorce exists, but there are large discrepancies in some of the data. It is also hard to put an exact number on the percentage of marriages that will end in divorce when the married couple are still alive. Using the number of divorces in a year compared to the number of marriages is useless. Still, many marriages end in divorce, statistics aside. Money is a large factor in divorce and divorce only exacerbates money problems.
The best way to preserve your marriage is to do away with money problems! Divorce is long in the making. Money problems are not a surprise in most cases. Medical issues can cause financial stress. But most money problems are the result of poor planning.
This blog is a good place to start. Not only do I provide powerful financial information to reach financial independence and security, I also have a long-lasting marriage—to the same woman! Thirty-three years of wedded bliss is no guarantee it lasts. However, proper financial planning skews the odds in my favor.
Several decades ago Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin wrote Your Money or Your Life. Robin has since updated the book and it is available with this link. You can also read a summary from Robin on Your Money or Your Life here.
Much has been reported on the work of Dominguez and Robin over the years. They founded the current FI (financial independence) movement. Following in their footsteps I share why it is so important to embrace their philosophy on money, spending and living. It’s not just your money or your life; considering divorce statistics, it is also about your money or your wife.
Every financial guru at one time or another pulled out their copy of Your Money or Your Life and started preaching. Rarely did they add anything new. But I, yes I, the Wealthy Accountant, will add something to the discussion with my normal way with words and undeniable logic. But it’s going to hurt.
Guys. How can I put this delicately? How does it make you feel to think about another guy with your wife, significant other and/or mother of your children? Thought so. Well, I have awesome news for you! When you keep spending beyond your means and piling up debt, you bring money problems into your relationship, increasing the odds of divorce or a break-up, by magnitudes of order. And when the inevitable happens you get to pay child support and/or alimony so some other guy can be with the woman you love. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it? Maybe not.
Am I too graphic for you? Tough! If you are not saving/investing half your gross income and spending responsibly (no more SUVs, jet skis, boats and other assorted wastes of money until you have ample cash to do it without touching savings or borrowing) you will eventually enjoy the opportunity of divorce or break up. Then you watch your wife continue her life without you. Best of all, you will pay a massive percentage of your hard-earned income to make it happen. It’s the court system’s way of getting you to spend responsibly by taking your money and giving to someone else.
Oh, I see I left the ladies out of the conversation. Imagine, ladies, your man with another woman. She thinks she’s hot and despises you, mostly because she’s younger and in control of your man’s life. This woman will not rank high on your list. Am I right? Don’t blame me! You did it to yourself. All that fancy clothes on the credit card and top-of-the-line furniture you had to have. Now, just close your eyes and visualize the future. You ain’t in it and she is. Get used to it.
I can hear the outcry already. The Wealthy Accountant is talking mean. He said my wife will leave me and I’ll pay for it. Mr. Accountant said my man will spend the rest of his life with another while I struggle to pay the bills. GET OVER IT!
I have no intention of playing fair. Got it! If Dominguez and Robin couldn’t get through to you and the army of financial books and blogs couldn’t crack your thick skull, then let me have at it. I will tell you the truth, regardless how much it hurts.
The complaints pour in when I suggest, even suggest, you save half your income. You’d think I was asking you to cut off an arm. You want it soft? I hope not. The cost is too high!
My encouragement may not prevent a divorce, but if you avoid serious money problems the odds of divorce start to look like a minor possibility.
When you met your sweetheart, what did you feel? Warm and fuzzy? Right? Me, too! I never wasted a day fighting with my sweetheart about money. I took responsibility for my behavior and spending.
So why are you working so hard to screw it up? The 4×4 truck, boat, oversized home, et cetera are not making you happy; it’s turning you into a very unhappy slave. And unhappy people lash out at the people closest to them. That might be your sweetheart, you think? Yeah. It’s no wonder so many lose so much of what they care about the most because they can’t keep the wallet tucked safely in the back pocket.
If so much was not at stake I would play nice. But I know you. You love your wife/significant other, guys, now more than ever. They don’t grow old; they grow more beautiful by the day. And you’re missing it all by worrying about money. Stop!
Sell the junk, pay off debt, stop spending, save/invest. Get your life back before someone else takes care of it for you. You love your wife. I know you do. Hold her. Show her how much you care. Show her how much you care by handling your finances like an adult. Read this blog from the first post to the end and do it again. Read other FI blogs; I’ve mentioned many in previous posts.
I don’t have all the answers. What I have is a thirty-three year marriage going strong. Mrs. Accountant and I talk about a lot of things. Worry about money is not one of them. Sure, we are getting older. Like a fine wine Mrs. Accountant is getting better with age. (Personally, I’m getting a vinegar edge, but I digress.) There is nothing in the world more pleasurable than the time I spend with Mrs. Accountant, the woman I love, and my children. Virtually all the pleasure in life involves them. There is no way I will risk that over a trinket on the credit card. No way.
It’s never too late to start. Maybe you already lost a loved one over crazy money habits. Don’t use it as an excuse to repeat the process. You are smarter than that.
Time keeps counting. As father time extracts his fee you will know the comfort of a friendly and familiar face. The woman you love, the girl you meet so many years ago is now old and gray, but more beautiful than ever and by your side. You don’t see the gray; you only see the beautiful girl with silky hair you meet so long ago and nervously asked to dance. Must be the old rheumy eyes. Age, you know.
Or, you can be alone. Brutal, I know.
Wednesday 21st of December 2022
This use to be more graphic. Can tell its been cleaned up
Marriage and Money: Finding the Perfect Mate | The Wealthy Accountant
Monday 27th of August 2018
[…] comes in. Incompatibility and even infidelity frequently begins with underlying financial issues. A year ago I published a brutal post on the consequences of poor spending habits and money problems. Back then I decided to take the proverbial 2×4 and plant it right beside the reader’s head. […]
Friday 12th of May 2017
Harsh but you forgot about the part when your spouse refuses to provide for his or her family. No child support or alimony if they don't have a regular job. Divorce isn't easy but sometimes it is the best thing do you can cut your losses and move forward.
Friday 12th of May 2017
You are correct, Felisa. Not all divorces are about money. This post only addresses money issues and how it contributes to a higher divorce rate. There are times divorce is the right choice especially if abuse is involved. The issue of a spouse unwilling to participate in the marriage ends badly. Money issues increase the chances of a divorce.
I had to pick a path when writing this post. I was fully aware of what you say, Felisa, while I wrote it. It is the worst part of writing on an issue. I can't cover all possibilities. Readers need to consider your concerns as well. If a spouse or ex-spouse refuses to take responsibility for his/her family there will be difficulties. All I have in those instances is empathy because I don't have a valid answer.
Wednesday 10th of May 2017
As always, a good post. I, for one, am glad you were blunt. Sometimes that's what people need. Myself included. I shared this post on my Facebook page cause I know a lot of people who could use this advice. I hope it doesn't fall on deaf ears.
Gwen @ Fiery MIllennials
Wednesday 10th of May 2017
Harsh, but fair. I've seen many a marriage struggle and fall apart due to money issues. It only gets worse when the spendy spouse hides the bad habit from their loving spouse. Excellent post!
Wednesday 10th of May 2017
I was a bit nervous, Gwen, because when you tell a guy to think about another guy doing his wife you are liable to get your beak busted. I am glad it is being received well so far. No death threats. You also bring up a serious point. When a spouse hides the financial infidelity. It never ends well. Thanks for the comment.