22 Mar Divorce and Finances
Financial and emotional challenges are common results of divorce. From an emotional standpoint, many counselors believe that surviving a divorce is worse than surviving the death of a spouse. If the deceased spouse died of natural causes, they never chose to leave the surviving spouse alone. Divorce, however, is a choice.
Let’s talk about how divorce really affects a couple from a purely financial standpoint:
- The income that used to support one household is now split in half and must support two households.
- All possessions, money, financial assets, and debt acquired during (and sometimes before) marriage will be divided between former spouses.
- Research analysts estimate that divorcing individuals need more than a 30% increase in income, on average, to maintain the same standard of living they had prior to their divorce.
For women, the financial burden of a divorce is dependent on several factors. One of the biggest variables affecting a woman financially after a divorce is whether or not she has children to support in addition to herself. Then, how much money she contributed to the family income before the divorce will affect how much income she has to replace. Finally, the financial burden of divorce for a woman will be largely dependent on the ability and willingness of her former husband to make support payments.
Some people seem to believe that men are financially better off after a divorce than they were during their marriage. This is a myth. Most men also experience a loss in their standard of living after a divorce. The financial loss for men after a divorce is generally estimated to range from 10% to 40%, depending on their unique circumstances. There are two main factors that contribute to a man’s financial loss after a divorce. First, if his ex-wife contributed a substantial income to the family, he will struggle to make up for this lost second income. Secondly if he has children, he will likely be required to make child-support and other payments on top of having to pay for a separate home or apartment.
What do you think would happen to the divorce rate if we decided to focus on building up and supporting our existing marriages, rather than minimizing the negative consequences of divorce?
If we nurture our marriages and focus our time, energy, and financial resources on improving our relationships with our spouses, we will all be better off both financially and emotionally.
I certainly understand that in some circumstances, such as in an abusive relationship or the occurrence of infidelity, divorce may occur. However, many of us still have the opportunity to nurture our relationships so they remain healthy. When you first enter into marriage, the last thing you are thinking about is divorce. But in life, we will all experience trials that can threaten our relationships. Let’s be proactive rather than reactive, and nurture our marriages in order to maintain strong, healthy relationships that can weather the many storms of life.
Here are some practical ways to build a stronger marriage:
- Experts agree that laughter really is the best medicine. A couple that can laugh together and enjoy one another’s company is much more likely to enjoy being around one another.
- Go on date nights, just the two of you. This helps you remember why you fell in love in the first place.
- Hold hands. Touch one another. Kiss and then see what happens next! This is the glue that holds you together.
- Develop and maintain shared interests. If you participate in regular activities that you both enjoy, don’t stop doing them, especially after you have children.
- If you have children, do not forget to make your marriage a priority. If parents are unhappy in their marriage, the children inevitably lose in the long run.
- Trust one another. Be a person who can be trusted and give the gift of trust to your spouse.
- Surprise one another and be thoughtful. Love notes, unexpected gifts, cards, and flowers are one of life’s greatest joys for couples.
- For many women, unsolicited help around the house is their love language. Men may be surprised to see how happy their wife is if they do a load of laundry, unload the dishwasher, or vacuum the house without ever being asked.
- Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. If your spouse is working hard, acknowledge their time and sacrifice and let them know that you are proud of them. Kind words and affirmation go a long way to helping maintain a strong marriage.
- Practice forgiveness over and over again. Do not hold grudges.
- Avoid comparing your marriage to another couple’s marriage. You never know what actually goes on behind closed doors. Instead, focus on how you can be a better spouse in your own marriage.
- Guilt should not be used to manipulate your spouse. This creates resentment, which can easily build up a wall that prevents healthy communication.
- The blame game is not for married couples. Often times, if you have one finger pointing at your spouse, you actually have three fingers pointing back at yourself!
- Always remember that the only person you can change is yourself.
- Allow your spouse the gift of time alone so they can rest and recharge their batteries. They will be a much better spouse and parent if they’re not emotionally and physically exhausted.
- Most importantly, keep God as the central focus of your marriage. Two people united together with one God will form a very strong bond. These three form a close relationship that is not easily broken.
- Finally, PRAY TOGETHER. A couple that both prays for one another, and prays together on a consistent basis, will rarely be estranged enough that they end up divorcing. Couples who pray together, stay together.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8