Ida Independent is a 48-year-old stay-at-home Mom of two children who is now going through a divorce. Ida and her husband had decided early on in their marriage that it was in the best interest of the family if she did not work outside of the home so that she could spend her time concentrating on the children and the family. As a one income family, with no work experience outside of the home since her marriage, Ida was shocked to learn that their financial status had deteriorated to a level that now would require her to find a paying job as soon as possible. Ida had trusted her husband to protect the family financially, but their lack of communication about money played a significant role in the derailment of their marriage.
Ida, when we first spoke, you said there were so many questions you wished you had asked yourself right from the start of your relationship. Thanks for being so willing to share some of your thoughts, experiences and insights as you take us through the different stages of your divorce. If it is OK with you, let’s start right at the beginning of your relationship before you were even married.
AZ asks: What are some of the things you never thought of and wished you had at the beginning of your marriage?
The first thing I would ask myself is what was I thinking! The truth is that I wasn’t thinking at all. To say I was young and naïve would be an understatement. I always believed in the magic of marriage and sharing the rest of your life with the same person. I thought you got married and lived happily ever after. I never even thought about the possibility that the marriage might not work out and could end in divorce. If I could do it over, I would have been more prepared and have asked myself exactly how I felt about divorce and the possibility of this happening somewhere down the road.
AZ asks: What exactly would you have asked yourself?
Looking back, one of the things that I believe contributed to the divorce was the fact that we really didn’t know each other. If I had stopped and asked myself some questions, in the beginning, it might have given me some insight into what could possibly happen down the road. I would have asked myself…
What do I really love about my partner?
Do we share the same values?
Is this relationship a team effort or does it fall on just one person to make all the effort?
Will we be able to communicate through the difficult times as well as the good ones?
Are we on the same page with how we view and handle our financial responsibilities?
AZ asks: If you had asked yourself some of these questions, do you think things may have turned out differently?
It might not have turned out completely different, but on the other hand, I may not have been as surprised and possibly better prepared as things began to unravel. It’s funny, looking back one of the things I loved about my partner was his free spirit. He was always up for a good time —the life of the party—he would spend money like there was no end in sight. What I eventually came to understand was my partner thought of himself as a team of only one. His life didn’t change very much after we were married. He would come and go and do exactly as he pleased. He spent money that we didn’t have on risky ventures and never even discussed it with me. He jeopardized our family by taking financial risks that I wasn’t even aware of and would have never been comfortable doing myself. These were all behavior patterns that I believe contributed to the divorce.
To be continued…