Many people tend to think that infidelity causes the majority of divorces in our country. However, a variety of financial reasons actually are cited as the principal motivator for ending a marriage.
Perhaps the single most common financial reason for divorce revolves around a spouse’s vision of money. If one spouse enjoys spending money, taking lavish trips or making luxury purchases, while the other spouse prefers a more modest living and lots of savings, these lifestyle differences create intense pressure on the marriage – either for one spouse to earn more money, or one spouse to accept a lesser lifestyle. Over time, one of these pressures will give because they are simply not sustainable. Couples should definitely discuss their views of spending and saving prior to marriage, and even consider memorializing these views in a written agreement.
The next most likely financial occurrence would be secret spending, which occurs when one spouse spends a significant sum on something frivolous or on bad habits, like gambling. It is one thing to do this openly in a relationship, but to do it secretly essentially admits to the other spouse it is wrong, and when it happens it erodes trust in the relationship. Every statement will be scrutinized and one spouse may make the other spouse account for all of a month’s earnings. This type of behavior will only intensify and lead to a full breakdown of the marriage. Spending on gambling and frivolous activities often can be signs of psychological issues, and when they first arise it would be best if the spouses address the problems in a therapeutic setting, as it might maximize the chance of correcting the behavior or at least understanding what is happening with that spouse and the marriage as a whole.
Spouses rarely tend to make the same amount of money in a marriage, but when the disparity is significant it essentially makes one spouse dependent on the other. Over time, a spouse may feel without authority to make real financial decisions for the family, and no one likes to have their spouse give them an allowance every week. Relationships need to be based on equality and respect, and money can erode that equality and lead to passive disrespect.
Finally, some spouses tend to keep their finances separate, even filing separate tax returns. While some spouses may have good reasons to do this, the lack of a joint account and complete transparency is a ticking time bomb, as one unfortunate or surprising discovery will create the same type of trust erosion as finding out about secret spending.
Open communication before and after marriage, and transparency in finances will be the best ways to avoid money causing the end of a marriage.
If you have more questions about money and divorce, contact us – we can help.