To Do or Not To Do? Examining that Question in Your Relationship…
By Dr. Tiger Devore
After sex, money is the issue that couples have the most disagreements about. Do we keep our finances separate or combine them? If separate, how do we contribute fairly on shared bills? If combined, at what point do we have to notify the partner of an expenditure that we intend to make, or have already made? What about saving: how much is reasonable, how much lifestyle do we give up in order to prepare for our future, how do we manage those savings so that they grow optimally?
As individuals pair up and unite their lives, sharing money and considering doing so in support of a family is not something that we learn about in high school, unfortunately. Real trust and commitment that is consistently reinvigorated and reinvested in can lead to a wonderful blending of lives with shared intentions and real clarity about supporting the intimate partner as if you were supporting yourself. That kind of dedication and discipline is something that people not only have to agree to, but also put the work into maintaining long after the relationship has been established. If their concerns are your concerns and that belief is shared by your partner, then honest communication about challenges that come up in life can be taken on by the safety of the relationship. That is what we hope for.
What if the marriage fails and you are considering divorce? People have common feelings about this, depending on their position in the marriage: Is it really okay that one takes away at least half of the money the other made while married? Does one think that giving up a career to support another’s does not entitle that person to half of what was earned as a couple? Oh my, this can get so nasty so quickly.
When we first meet, love and trust is in abundance. All the things that make us believe in a partner are there when we plan to commit our lives to each other; many still believing, “until death do us part.”
People and lives change. Most people consult lawyers when they have a problem. Just as it is best to see a therapist when you are taking on a challenge, rather than after you have failed at it, seeing an attorney at the beginning of the marriage to understand what happens if you do not plan for the possibility of divorce can be key to having a great divorce instead of a tragedy.
Most business partnerships have dissolution agreements in the initial contract. Marriages should have this as well. This can take the form of a prenuptial agreement; such a document does not necessarily have to be about protecting the partner with greater assets, it can also spell out what the couple wants to have happen if a divorce should become necessary. For marriages that have this agreement in place, the people who are engaged in the relationship do not have to have mystery or fear about what will happen if they decide to divorce, since they already know and have already agreed to it in advance. The threat of divorce can be reduced dramatically by taking this simple step early in a marriage.
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